Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Last Friday my stepsons and I went with my club Fellowship of Christian Sportsmen, (or as Steph refers to us, "Christians with Guns"), to old San Antone to participate in a sporting clays shoot.
The National Sporting Clays Association is the governing body for sporting clay shoots in the United States, and also certifies shooting instructors. Our role this day was to act as shooting students for the student instructors to demonstrate their coaching skills as part of the certification process. We ranged in skill from beginners to shooters with decades of experience
We arrived at the huge 640 acre national shooting complex a little later than expected, and had to join in after the shooting had already started. There were more students than were expected (which I didn't understand because everyone had to make reservations to participate), so we didn't get to shoot as much as we expected in the morning.
In the afternoon the senior instructors evened the groups out and we did get more shooting in. Though the temperature was nearly 100F, most of the shooting locations were shaded, and we had a nice breeze in the morning, so with proper clothing and hydration (plus my Tilley Endurable hat), it was fairly comfortable.
Each group had at least two student instructors, and one senior instructor, who was evaluating and coaching the student instructors and the shooters as needed. I found the senior instructors to be excellent at what they did...and they seemed to love it.
For those unfamiliar with sporting clays, it is a shotgun sport where clay targets (called "birds" or "clay pigeons") are thrown when the shooter calls "pull", and the shooter tries to break the target.
Sporting Clays is the closest thing to actual field shooting of all shotgun sports. The sport dates back to England in the early 1900s when trap shooting used live pigeons. With the introduction of clay targets, the sport began to take on the popular form known today. But rather than using standardized distances, target angles and target sizes, sporting clays courses are designed to simulate the hunting of ducks, pheasants and even rabbits. Six different sizes of clay targets give the participant the experience of actual hunting conditions, so you can see why the sport is so popular with hunters.
We shot until about 3:00 in the afternoon before heading back north to Austin/Round Rock. We had a great time of shooting and eating barbecue (uh, hello, this IS Texas), and hopefully made some good memories with the boys.
Not all the targets were clay... ;-)