My view of shotguns has long been the same as a golfer of his clubs. The linkster carries a whole bag of clubs, each with a very specific purpose. I believe shotguns are much the same.
Why would you take a short-barreled, extended-magazine, red-dot-sighted tactical/defense type shotgun to a sporting clays tournament and hope to win a trophy? A specifically designed target gun is going to boost your odds significantly for that purpose.
Yet the start of the local trap league in which I shoot snuck up on me this year. I’d cashed in on a half-dozen cases of light 8s on sale at the close of the season last September, but hadn't given it another thought until the team sponsor called up a few weeks back and said, “You been practicing? League starts next week!”
Arghhhh! I hate that. I’m the guy who plans, practices and prepares for everything hunting and shooting related usually months and months ahead of time. I just don’t understand how this could have happened, and it gnaws at me that I let it; yet it seems to happen more and more the older I get.
So, here was the situation: Through all of the 2010-2011 hunting season I shot one 12 gauge more than any other in the safe. In fact, going back to the 2009-2010 fall and spring seasons, when I was shooting a 12-gauge scattergun, it was always the Beretta A400 Xplor Unico. I was running the “endurance test” that was ultimately published in North American Hunter magazine.
When we headed to Georgia in March of this year to tape "NAH-TV" tip segments that would require a good bit of skeet and sporting clays shooting on camera, I grabbed that gun. On the recent Argentina dove hunt the guns we rented from the lodge were very similar, but in 20 gauge.
The surprise news that trap league was about to start left me wondering. I have several purpose-built target guns in the safe. They’ve done me very well in clay seasons past. There’s also a beautiful target gun in the safe that’s new to me that I just haven’t had the time to put through its paces. And there’s the Beretta Xplor I’ve shot ten times more than any other shotgun in the safe these last 2 years … and it’s shot danged well both on the range and in the field.
On the short-notice opening night I grabbed …. the Xplor.
Upon meeting the team at the clubhouse we went to sign up for our first league round, only to learn that because we’d done so well the previous year, our handicap had been increased to the 25-yard line! Now I was really nervous. Here I am, stuck with a flat-shooting field gun and customized target guns set up for handicap shooting back home in the safe! No use crying–the only thing to do was shoot.
First round: I shot a 22. Not bad. Second round: I shot a 23. Better.
The next week I went back to shoot. I looked at the guns in the safe pretty hard, but not quite as long as the week before. Again, I grabbed the Xplor.
First round week 2: 23. Alright! Second round week 2: a 20! Arghhh!
I can’t blame the gun for that poor second round. When I’d stopped at home after work to grab my gear I walked into a wet basement! The sump pump had quit. So, by the time I shot half way through that second 25, in my mind I was already in the basement bailing water and replacing the pump. It's tough to concentrate on installing a sump pump and breaking targets at the same time!
You can be pretty sure the Xplor will get the call again next week after the basement’s dry!