The sport of Sporting Clays involves a variety of size and color clay targets thrown in high arcs, low fast passes, rolled along the ground, and in pairs overhead, which are good simulations of real animal movements. Besides being a good way to tune reflexes, it’s a lot of fun. This is a sport that translates well to both survival hunting and defensive shooting against surprise, moving targets.
I shot trap a couple of times about 20 years ago. Since then, all my shooting has been rifle, pistol or riotgun at pop up or fixed targets. This was effectively a new skill set for me.
Before the class, I received an instructional book and DVD. Both were clear, easy to understand and easy to pay attention to. There is a drill for learning the proper movements with a shotgun, and it was very useful. Upon reaching the course, I already had the basic movement ingrained.
OSP is run by Gil and Vicki Ash, with lots of hands on. Classes are kept small, so there is typically one instructor for each five students or less. By the time I’d finished one station of shooting and gotten ready for the next, I had a coach at my elbow.
Gil gave us background on both the sport, and on the related human reflexes, kinetics, neurology and optics. It was a down to earth discussion, but Gil has consulted with researchers on the science behind these. How to learn is as important as the learning itself. We had a long discussion over muscle memory, coordination, dominant eyes and hands, and related matters.
The premise of their method—and they are both amazing shooters with a lot of competition credentials—is that 3-5 seconds of target travel time is more than enough to locate, point, mount the shotgun and shoot. Think of merging with traffic from an on ramp. The car has to be placed precisely between two others moving at a high rate of speed, but if approached in a relaxed fashion, rather than gassing and braking, it’s a fairly simple task. In this case, one sights and moves with the target, mounts the gun, and shoots. This should be an instinctive, natural movement, without a lot of analysis of point of aim, lead, etc.
The coaching was cheerful, conversational and full of humor and sarcasm, but very precise and insightful. We determined my stock was too short, choke too tight, and that my familiarity with high-sighted military rifles was hindering my shotgun mounting. It took a good part of the day to tweak the new movements, but I noticeably improved, and more importantly, learned the skills I needed for further improvement, and gained an understanding of how to analyze my own shooting. I did indeed find that 3 seconds was plenty of time to spot, mount, shoot, and repeat for the second clay of a double.
Gil and Vicki love shooting, love teaching, and their classes are a lot of fun, as well as being packed with learning. Their rates are very reasonable, available singly or for groups, and they offer excellent rates for groups at your location. – SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson, author of the new science fiction novel Do Unto Others.