Since we are talking about wingshooting, let’s talk about guns. At driven shoots most all people take their own guns, and many people do take guns to South America. My opinion is this…why? I can understand wanting to take your matched set on a Spanish driven shoot or the Grouse Moors. That’s a given. After all, who wouldn’t want to shoot a matched set of Purdeys or Holland and Hollands? That’s a bucket list accomplishment for many. But why take your own Beretta to shoot 5000 rounds in Argentina? Besides the obvious wear and tear there are other reasons I recommend not taking your shotguns to South America.
Some airline baggage handlers might express their bias against hunting by the way they convey your shotgun.
There are risks involved in traveling with guns. Not every airline or their employees think highly of hunters and shooters, not to mention the chance that any customs agent can decide at any time that you should miss your connection, or that they just don’t like you. It happens, believe me.
When working with clients I try to reduce as much risk as possible that something might go wrong. Taking your own gun increases risk, while manageable, it’s a risk I don’t deem worth the hassle (at least not to South America). Most South American lodges rent Berettas and Benellis, the venerable 390 and 391 are staples of the Cordoba lodges, with a few A400’s and Benellis starting to appear here and there. Why not have a stock maker fit you with a custom stock, most outfitters have a list of their guns that they will be glad to share. Get a fitted stock and the odds are that the stock can then be used at several lodges. Your percentages will go up. Plus no fees or forms to fill out and you’re shooting what is essentially a fitted gun. Long-armed shooters would do well to bring a slip over recoil pad if the fitted stock is out of the question.
High-volume wingshooting exerts wear and tear on your shotgun. You may want to consider renting one from the lodge instead of transporting your own.
Bring your own hearing and eye protection. Almost all outfitters have disposable ear plugs and maybe safety glasses, but who wants to look like they’re getting ready to weed eat instead of shoot? Besides the looks, functionality of the things you are familiar and comfortable with, will help you hit more as the day goes on. For the recoil sensitive I would recommend a PAST pad or one of the integrated padded shirts.
A PAST Pad can dramatically increase the comfort of your high-volume wingshooting experience.
Go shoot beforehand. Go to your local clays range and shoot several rounds of sporting clays before you leave on your adventure. Of course the shots won’t be like true wingshooting, but a couple rounds at the course will do wonders for your confidence alone. Not to mention helping you remember what lead and recoil are like. Better yet, get in the habit of shooting often. Join the National Sporting Clays Association and get into the sport, because your wingshooting will definitely benefit. There are very few purely instinctive and truly talented shotgunners in the world, the rest of us must practice.
To ensure maximum safety and performance, bring your own eye and ear protection.
Get an instructor. The excuse, “I’ve been shooting my whole life, I don’t need instruction” doesn’t fly with me. I’ve been shooting my whole life as well and the two best things I ever did for my shooting was to shoot a fitted gun and get instruction. In that order. A good instructor will understand that he is not coaching for clays. Explain to him or her where you’re going and more than likely he’ll have been to South America and can help set-up scenarios. You pay a good amount of money to go on different adventures, why not spend a little beforehand to increase your percentages? Shells are very rarely included (in South America at least) and are never cheap, so why not do everything you can before your trip to maximize your success? The National Sporting Clays Association has a list of shooting instructors by state.
To really get the most enjoyment and value from your wingshooting adventure consider taking shooting lessons beforehand from a qualified instructor.
Be sure to pay attention to the pack list provided by the outfitter, many of the suggestions are from years of experience. If they say bring bug spray there is a reason for it. Still, pack wisely, you don’t need to carry everything and the kitchen sink. And almost all decent lodges have next- day laundry. Many of my clients take only carry-on bags, for a three/four day shoot, then have laundry done at the lodge. Taking a carry-on bag speeds up going through customs and is another way to reduce risks. A lost bag is never fun, and it’s hard to lose something that you’re always carrying.
Just a few suggestions from an outside-the-box perspective. If you have any questions or are looking for the wingshooting adventure of a life time please feel free to contact me.