Once the press conference is over in Tuscany, Italy and the pretty girl has held up the shotgun while everyone clamors around with a camera, there’s a much more defining moment. It’s the moment when the gun is in your hands, and the arm of the trap is cocked and loaded with the first clay you’ll shoot with it.
Griffin & Howe clients recently had the chance to hear shooting pointers from one of the world’s top grouse shots, and then to shoot simulated driven grouse under his expert eye. Phil Burtt, who manages the shooting at England’s Belvoir Castle, was in the US with his boss—Her Grace, the Duchess of Rutland—and presented a tutorial at Hudson Farm, Griffin & Howe’s shooting preserve in Andover, New Jersey, on March 19, 2014.
“Really?” “Wow!” “Fantastic!” All of these words were going through my mind while I watched a recent news segment about the rise of women shooting shotguns recreationally. This was not just some local news segment, but actually on the CBS Good Morning America show. What an unexpected pleasure to see, not only a positive side of shooting presented, but featuring just a few of the many, many women who are recognizing the joy of shooting shotguns and embracing it as a new hobby.
Story|Photos by Tom Keer
Say the word “woodcock” in a room full of bird hunters and you are likely to capture most everyone’s attention. Hunters are fascinated with the eclectic, migratory bird for a wide variety of reasons. Dyed-in-the-wool woodcock hunters seem to have camaraderie that knows no bounds. I suspect if you asked any of them if they’ve ever wanted to embark on a five-month journey that follow the flights from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds most would say yes. Most nod in agreement when the phrase “anything done in moderation shows a lack of interest” is quoted.
The drive from Denver had been uneventful, which was good. I listened to a stack of CDs hoping to learn how to say ‘good morning’ in Italian and trying not to spill Diet Pepsi all over the box, while anguishing as the gas gauge plummeted down like weights at the gym. On the rural roads the weathered buildings and farm houses with sharp angled roofs reminded me of my family car trips from Long Island to Miami Beach when my age was written in single digits.
In the James Bond movie “Skyfall,” Agent 007 (Daniel Craig) uses a .500 Nitro Express Double Rifle to kill dangerous game of the two-legged variety from the little-known London gunmaker, Anderson Wheeler.
Wingshooting has been my lifelong passion and the motivation that has resulted in my occupation which runs the whole gambit of wingshooting worldwide. I have worked for several of the top gunmakers in England and Europe as shooting instructor, gun fitter, gunmaker and sporting agent (outfitter).
Superb handcrafted shotguns and rifles from James Purdey & Sons have been venerated by shooting aficionados and royalty alike ever since the company opened its doors at 4 Princes Street, near Leicester Square, London, in 1814.
We showed up on time. Oh dark-30. Parked our car on a pull-off area on a mountain road in Kebler Pass, located in the Crested Butte area. The twins stepped out of their vehicle next to us – dressed in camo, do-rags and running shoes. The reflective tape on their shoes gleamed in the pre-dawn and I thought, “I’m in trouble here.” My hunting boots already felt heavy.
The Invictus is a shotgun, but where did that name come from? Seems like an unusual name for a shotgun. One clue to find out the meaning of Invictus would be to go to the maker — Caesar Guerini. They’re based in Brescia, Italy so that gives us a clue. Digging a little deeper, Invictus has its roots in Latin. You remember Veni, vidi, vici don’t you? Caesar’s “I came, I saw, I conquered!” The translation from Latin to English for Invictus is “unconquerable.”
When I developed the “Hunting With Hank” television series starring my Llewellin Setter Hank, for what was then The Outdoor Life Network, I had confidence that the series would find an audience. But, the amazing success of Hank’s show actually caught me off guard. Along with its popularity, came requests from viewers all across the country to explain how I trained Hank for the work they saw him performing on our upland bird hunts that spanned the country.
I was stunned. Pleasantly stunned. Roberto Ferrata uncased his new titanium Fabbri 12 gauge shotgun and handed it to me. “I want you to use my gun today.” I received the magnificent firearm and held it as gently as if it were a newborn baby. Bringing it to my shoulder, I noted with conflicting emotions and thoughts that it fitted perfectly.
While more than 100 acres of winter wheat blanketed the spring soil not ten yards forward of our position we felt strangely closed in, but it was nice, even intimate. Nothing means more to a young son sitting in the darkness than knowing he’s next to his dad; I can say the same for sitting next to him. We sat, whispered and giggled for nearly an hour before I noticed a silver hue raining down through the treetops over our shoulders. It was just enough to expose the haunting glow of layered fog as it began to roll back its stranglehold on dew-laden wheat. As minutes ticked away so did darkness. The silver hues succumbed to radiant shades of amber and gold as frigid temperatures dropped several more degrees. My son Jacob said I looked like a bull with “smoke” surging from my nostrils.
Here in Colorado Springs, a bright and unseasonably warm February afternoon boasted clear skies and no wind — perfect for a clays-shooting session with USA Shooting team members, skeet whiz Amber English and her trap colleagues Dakotah Richardson and Collin Wietfeldt. We also caught up with team trap shooter Kelsey Zauhar.
Perazzi has engaged select authorized dealers to contribute their expertise in designing and delivering unique, purpose-driven shotguns that most of us rarely see.
In Part I, we met Charlie Mincey, former Georgia moonshine runner who would be our host for evaluating the new Ruger Red Label on sporting clays courses that we visited in a restored 1939 Ford Sedan moonshine car. In Part II, we shot sporting clays with the Ruger Red Label at the Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club as well as Barnsley Gardens — delving deeper into Charlie’s incredible story. Now in our final installment, we stress test the Ruger Red Label at the ravine-intense Etowah Valley Sporting Clays followed by a visit to Dawsonville, which is the heartbeat of the state’s moonshine culture.
Beneath a Texas mesquite tree, I sat on the camo bucket seat with a 20-gauge Zoli Expedition EL resting across my lap, watching skyward for doves.
A sporting clays training session that drew top instructors to South Carolina in mid-June could change how the sport is taught to the majority of shooters using the new “Coordinated Shooting Method.”
The idea of Touch-and-Go actually has its roots in aviation. New pilots use it to learn how to land and take off again. You come down for a landing, touch the runway with your wheels, and then push the throttle forward to take off again.
What does Touch-and-Go have to do with consistently breaking targets in sporting clays? It has to do with how you approach the target, touch it, and then pull ahead for the proper forward allowance — or lead as most people call it.
Story | Photo by Ron Spomer
In the 1960s pheasants were big game birds in South Dakota, the upland equivalent of Canada geese. Tough, durable, armed with spurs and ready to shoulder through a dense swarm of shot. A big ringneck was no bird to fool with. The full-choke 12 gauge was the hands down favorite for taming South Dakota’s feral pheasants.
But I didn’t use one.
There’s nothing like a little controversy to stir things up – reading here about opinions on Winchester’s vaunted Model 21 side by side – along with opinions about a possible up-and-comer in the used gun realm – Browning’s BSS (acronym for Browning Side by Side). The Winchester Model 21 has a long standing favorable reputation among many shotgunners, but especially among those who favor Winchesters of all types, maybe even more especially among Winchester collectors.