But a part of the puzzle that’s missing is the point of view of the rest of us, the average or everyday shooter. There are stories and points of view from this perspective that could fill volumes: What's it like to do something for the first time, how was a problem resolved, how and why a particular product was picked over another, what sorts of mistakes were made? The list is endless.
The purpose of my new column here on Shotgun Life is to present the perspective of the average or everyday shooter. I also hope to make this interactive. Post comments to this column. There are a lot of folks like us and this is a chance for our point of view to be heard.
OK, so who the heck is this guy? My name is Ken Hartshorn. I'm located in Massachusetts and I shoot clay targets whenever I can.
I am a member of the NSCA and I am in class "C." Class C means I occasionally shoot in sporting clays tournaments, but I'm not a pro, and I’m certainly not an instructor, but I do know my way around.
This column is about the people, places and things I encounter while shooting sporting clays, 5-stand, skeet and trap. I’ll also write about the mistakes I make, lessons learned, and the products I find and use.
My First Time
Like most shooters, I belong to a local club. For me it’s the Riverside Gun Club in Hudson, Massachusetts. It’s about four miles from my home. We shoot skeet on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and shoot skeet, trap, and 5-stand on Sundays.
Most of the time it’s the usual group of guys and we spend half of the time shooting and the other half in the skeet/trap shack swapping stories.
Once in a while a new shooter or two will show up and we’ll introduce them to the sport.
Ten years ago I was one of those new shooters. I had always been curious about shooting clay targets. I knew it required a shotgun, you yelled PULL, a target would appear and you’d shoot it. How tough could that be?
The tough part, at least for me, was getting over the inertia associated with jumping in and trying something new. That first Sunday morning when I pulled up to the skeet/trap shack I had no idea what to expect. I thought I’d talk to a few folks, get an idea of what it was all about and perhaps take home a brochure.
When I stepped out of my car, I ran into Dick Marshall (I’m sure he’ll be the topic of other columns in the future), and the exchange went something like this:
“Hi, my name is Ken Hartshorn and I’m interested in learning something about….”
“Hi! I’m Dick Marshall. Did you bring a gun?”
“Okay, here, use my gun. I have a spare vest and some ammo. I’ll show you how it’s done.”
My head was spinning. I had not shot a shotgun in over twenty years. I thought I’d just ease into this: Do a little reading then come back prepared.
Within minutes I was on the field with Dick. He did the usual safety lesson, and then introduced me to the game of skeet. He was patient, friendly, funny and put me at ease. We blew through two boxes of ammo and I had the time of my life.
I later found out that Dick was one of the top-rated skeet shooters in the country. Like the pro he was, he loved to share his experience with new shooters.
When we were done shooting Dick and the other members made me feel at home and genuinely wanted me to return. I came back Tuesday night and have been coming back ever since.
New Englanders have a reputation for being cold and unfriendly. I guess someone forgot to tell that to the folks involved in shotgun sports. My first day experience at Riverside Gun Club is something I have always carried with me. It was a gift, from Dick Marshall and the other club members. It’s a gift that I try to pass on to all new shooters.
Ken is a technical writer and has spent the majority of his career documenting storage hardware and software products for start-up companies. Although start-ups demand long hours, he always finds time to get to the club and break some clays. Ken is not a shooting instructor and he is not a professional shooter. He’s part of the majority of people who love to shoot clays just for the sheer fun of it.