CZ’s Dave Miller Goes for Clays Record to Benefit Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Kids Programs

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Imagine shooting a clay target every 1.2 seconds with a goal of shattering more than 3,000 within 60 minutes and suddenly you’re in Dave Miller’s boots as he attempts to set a new high in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Behind-the-scene logistics for the endeavor involve a dedicated group of about 30 supporters. Mr. Miller, Project Manager for CZ-USA, has engineered an elaborate configuration of trap machines and controllers for the effort. Armed with an arsenal of modified CZ 712 and 912 semi-automatics, a team of crackerjack loaders helps keep him on schedule.

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The CZ 912 semi-automatic shotgun.

Although the 41-year-old Mr. Miller has an eye on the record books, the primary purpose of the shoot is to raise money for youth shooting programs including Pheasants Forever’s and Quail Forever’s No Child Left Indoors® and as well as Clays for Kids — organizations that serve as pipelines for generations of conservationists and wing and clays enthusiasts. Pheasants Forever works with about 70,000 youth each year nationwide ranging from junior-high to college students.

Scheduled for May 16th at the Heartland Trap & Wobble Skeet club in Harrisonville, Missouri, supporters and boosters in attendance will see first-hand the incredible clays-breaking creation specifically assembled for one of the most exciting 60 minutes in the sport. The event will showcase Mr. Miller’s Master Class clays prowess and years of innovation gleaned from his career as an electrical technician.

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Dave Miller

Mr. Miller, along with officials from the Guinness Book of World Records and Brett Moyes, who is Director of the National Sporting Clays Association, collaborated over three months to determine whether or not a current record existed and in turn the number of clays that can be realistically broken in an hour to set that record.

After the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that no other records stood, a series of conversations fixed on 3,000 targets in an hour as a “realistic number that’s attainable” explained Mr. Miller. Bottom line is 1.2 seconds per target shooting the shotguns from his hip. His personal goal is to break 3,200 targets.

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CZ’s 712 semi-automatic shotgun.

In accordance with the Guinness Book of World Records, the clays thrown would be shoulder-high out-goers flying at 30 miles per hour, which must be broken beyond 10 meters (32.8 feet). Simultaneous breaks would count as a single target. The final agreement was signed January 26, 2014 between Guinness and CZ-USA of Kansas City, Kansas. Eight officiates will count the breaks and the average number among them will equal the grand total. A representative from the Guinness Book of World Records’ New York office will monitor the proceedings.

In preparation for the big event, Mr. Miller and his team held three practice sessions at Heartland between December 20, 2014 and March 28, 2015 to refine his specialized skillset and debug the custom clays-throwing system.

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A magazine extension by Nordic Components.

The 30 CZ semi-automatics have a magazine extension manufactured by Nordic Components of Hutchinson, Minnesota. The Nordic add-on increases shell capacity to 16 over the factory’s five. Mr. Miller has been practicing his quick-change, gun-swap method from the line of shotguns on a 60-foot row of tables that also include open boxes of 12-gauge shells. Matt Hopkins, who is a CZ-USA championship pistol shooter, hands Mr. Miller a fresh gun after it’s reloaded by the pit crew. The targets fly at an angle and elevation for rapid-fire hip shots from the 30-inch barrel. Cylinder chokes ensure a wide shot pattern. A standard CZ 712 retails for approximately $780 while the CZ 912 has an MSRP of $544 with a 28-inch barrel.

Mr. Miller has been practicing “building muscle memory, moving in rhythm with the trap machines,” he said.

And that would be 16 Clay Trap Machines from sponsor MEC Shooting Sports in Maysville, Wisconsin. Training his mind and body was one thing, but synchronizing the machines proved to be a Herculean effort of trial-and-error refinement.

First the team had to resolve the optimal number of machines. The first run-through used 12 traps hurling clays at about 42 miles per hour. A succession of experimental trap controllers led to a wireless button console equipped with ear buds connected to a metronome. Each tick signaled the trapper to throw a target. Unfortunately, human fatigue and anemic bandwidth couldn’t sustain the brisk pace.

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The final version of the controller designed by Dave Miller used on 16 trap machines.

Back at the drawing board, Mr. Miller ultimately designed a controller that married a mechanical switch with a rheostat to adjust the speed of the clays. Connected to 16 trap machines, it was debugged during the second practice. The precision timing controller depended on a clock-like interface to release targets in uniform intervals. The switch was housed in a two-foot-square wood box mounted on a platform made of fence posts.

But erratic throws persisted. The problem was traced to the machines’ power supply. Trap machines run on DC auto and marine batteries. As energy drained, the machines decelerated. A trickle charger fluctuated performance as power spiked and ebbed. The entire bank of trap machines was finally converted to a steady 120-volt power source that plugged into the wall for the ideal balance of speed and accuracy — proving itself over 6,200 targets during the second trial of December 20th.

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Dave Miller with a CZ semi-auto after one of the record-attempt practice sessions.

Now with the final rehearsal behind him, Mr. Miller is ready to go for it.

You can participate by contributing $20 per clay toward Mr. Miller’s record attempt. You can submit your contribution online at http://www.pheasantsforever.org/record or contact Pheasant Forever’s John Lindquist via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters or donors that contribute from $350 up to $5,000 will automatically receive one or more CZ-USA shotguns earmarked for fundraising.

You can watch the promotional video at http://goo.gl/eEcTXe .

Irwin Greentstein is the Publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Useful resources:

The web site for CZ-USA

Pheasant Forever’s web site

Quail Forever’s web site

The web site for Heartland Trap & Wobble Skeet

The MEC page for clay trap machines

The web site for Nordic Components

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 April 2015 09:31
Irwin Greenstein

Irwin Greenstein is Publisher of Shotgun Life. Please send your comments to letters@shotgunlife.com.

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