The Confessions of a Target Geek

"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door" is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Necessity is the mother of invention" is a phrase that was to become a metaphor about the power of innovation.

During the week of the USA Shootings’ International Trap Championships in June 2011, the typical winds coming off the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs were stronger than normal and were greatly affecting the scores.  I said, "I broke a chip off of one target and I think it landed in Kansas!"  My son works for the National Weather Service; so he got a call from me asking "What is the forecast for winds later in the day?" Scott McGuire responded, "Getting stronger and steady with gusts of up to 45 to 50 miles per hour starting in the next half hour."

DSC009801Mike McGuire

After the day of shooting I was reviewing the scores sheets and just got fed up with the same old, dull and boring black-and-white score sheets, with a lack of information and details about the shooting atmosphere. I publish trade magazines for a living and work very closely with my graphic designer to develop unique and colorful page layouts for my publications. Why not take this capability and apply it to the old customary dull black-and-white score sheets usually printed off on a gun club copying machine and make them a more valuable tool to help shooters improve their scores? I thought. 

That year, I had previously finished writing a book titled Shotguns + Clay Target Sports Trivia Q & A which was used by both the National Sporting Clays Association and the National Skeet Association as gifts for all shooters during their National Championships. The book had several questions about how elevation, winds, temperatures, sunshine, cloudy conditions, humidity and the like affected the shot shell performance and also the shooter’s performance, but nothing like this type of information was ever available on the clay target sports’ score sheets.

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Upon my return to Scottsdale, Arizona, I went to work by studying all the different types of shotgun shooting sports score sheets I could find. At best one of the shotgun manufacturers, a target manufacturer and a shot shell manufacturer, attached their company logo. But there was absolutely no information that might assist shooters in the possibility of improving their scores. I was appalled how some gun clubs just copied sporting-clay sheets and hopefully the course lay-out for the day matched up with the blank white spaces left for scoring. Often there weren’t enough score sheets to go around for all their customers (shooters). Bottom line: these score sheets were not very good at all for the shooters, but it did leave the door of opportunity open for me to use.


5-Stand ScoreSheet7-1Mike McGuire’s "Aim High, Shoot Straight!™" score sheet for 5-Stand featuring the "SHOTGUN WEATHER BAR™". 

Through the fall of 2011 and into early 2012, I worked on designing 17 different score sheets including four training score sheets. With the help of my son, I designed and trademarked  the "SHOTGUN WEATHER BAR™" to detail Humidity %, Barometric Pressure, Temperature in F, Winds (mph), Wind Direction, Weather  Conditions: (Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Cloudy, Rain and High Winds), Visibility: (Clear, Haze, Fog or Other) and finished with Elevation in feet and Latitude/Longitude location. All the weather information is available with a quick click on one or more of the popular weather apps on one’s smart phone or by using a pocket weather meter.

Additional space is left for REMARKS on the score sheets to again assist in helping one to improve their shooting ability by making notes and comments about the round they just finished.  REMARKS could be about the type of ammunition used, or trying out new chokes, what adjustments might have been made to the comb or stock, which color of lens one used in their shooting glasses or weather comments. I suggest saving your score sheets in a three-ring binder for future re-evaluation as your shooting ability changes over time. Now you have some real valuable information to help one improve their scores in the future.

The website address for each shooting organization like the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) or the NSSA-NSCA Organization is on the score sheet for their particular sport. This feature alone allows one to check a rule question almost immediately if one should arise.  The slogan SAFETY FIRST – AND ALWAYS! is printed on each and every score sheet with 15 essential safety tips on the back.  Shooting Shotgun Sports, LLC is proud to say that all score sheets are "Printed in America."

Quick Response QR Codes are now available and will become more prominent in the future as gun companies, ammunition, choke tube manufacturers, clothing companies and the like want to have their own private label brand score sheets for promotional purposes. Or better yet to link to their website or a video to demonstrate a new product. Score sheets will never be the same!

SportingClays ScoreSheet aFThe front of the "Aim High, Shoot Straight!™" score sheet.

SportingClays ScoreSheet FIThe back of the "Aim High, Shoot Straight!™" score sheet.


One favorite feature I like about the score sheets is the fact that they are printed on a better quality of paper (a dozen different sheets were tested for pencil and pen use to make the score sheets "smear-proof") — much better than just plain white 20# cheap copy paper.  "Aim High, Shoot Straight!™" score sheets are printed in four-color by professional printers. Therefore, when a new or young shooter in a program like the SCTP shoots his first perfect score of 25 he can have a nice score sheet framed fairly inexpensively and display it. 

There are four score sheets designed specifically for practicing. The McGuire Post-Angle Lost Bird Review form is one that can be used for both ATA Singles and Handicap targets. I used it for several years and still refer back to it when I have an "off" day. By using the system, you will shortly learn which targets will require additional attention, training and practice to shoot that perfect score of 25. A second practice sheet handles ATA Doubles and again is based on recording your missed birds. The third trap practice sheet is for International Trap which allows one to record the angles and elevations of the targets along with notes in regards to the second shot.  A second sheet for recording the results while practicing for International Doubles Trap is in the works and will be available in the near future. Finally, there is a practice sheet for American Skeet which again will help one determine which target(s) one needs to work on more for that perfect round.

At present there are 17 total score and practice sheets available in pads of 50 sheets each. They include the three ATA trap sports, International Trap, American & International Skeet, Sporting Clays, 5-Stand, FITASC, Wobble Trap and two fun games of "SCRAP" and Wobble Trap-SLIDE. I call it R&D and will continue to add more score sheets as the demand requires.

I am continuing design work on a unique pattern sheet which will include the "Shotgun Weather Bar ™" along with providing more information for the shooter than any other pattern sheet on the market today. The final plans are in the prototype stage for a shooting stand to hold the pattern sheets which will measure 35 inches by 45 inches.  A handy "Pattern Gauge" was recently developed to help the shooter better evaluate their shot shell performance with 20-inch and 30-inch circles when reading their pattern sheet. These pattern sheets will be printed on white paper and not on brown paper or be like the "meat wrapping" paper shooters use today.

It amazes me how one can spend several thousands of dollars on a shotgun and not know where it shoots. The pattern board should be the first place one shoots his or hers new shotgun. It should also be the place where one shoots patterns whenever they change chokes, ammunition or make adjustments to the comb, stock or rib. To shoot better scores, you have to know your Point of Impact (POI) so you are not just making holes in the air with your shot string.
Because of our high volume of printing (last order was over 150,000 score sheets) and with a 30-year-plus relationship with my printer, I am able to pass along savings on our retail score sheets and keep the cost less than that of one single shotgun shell or even one clay target.

Look for and ask for the brand "Aim High, Shoot Straight!™" score sheets and practice sheets from Shooting Shotgun Sports, LLC the next time you are at your favorite gun store, gun club or using the internet to purchase on-line.

Mike McGuire is an NRA, USA Shooting Team and NSCA certified shotgun instructor. He is a Life Member in the ATA, NSCA and the Arizona Sporting Clays Association. Other current and past affiliations include the Ohio State Trapshooting Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation Member, the Ohio State University Trap Club and the Arizona State University Clay Target Program. He is a Contributing Writer to Trapshooting USA and Sporting Clays magazines. The web site for "Aim High, Shoot Straight©" Shotgun Clay Target Sports Score Sheets is under construction but you can contact Mike at 480-488-3500 or mmcguire@shootingshotgunsports.com.

Last modified on Friday, 11 April 2014 23:31
Mike McGuire

Mike McGuire is an NRA, USA Shooting Team and NSCA certified shotgun instructor. He is a Life Member in the ATA, NSCA and the Arizona Sporting Clays Association. Other current and past affiliations include the Ohio State Trapshooting Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation Member, the Ohio State University Trap Club and the Arizona State University Clay Target Program. He is a Contributing Writer to Trapshooting USA and Sporting Clays magazines. The web site for “Aim High, Shoot Straight©” Shotgun Clay Target Sports Score Sheets is under construction but you can contact Mike at 480-488-3500 or mmcguire@shootingshotgunsports.com.

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