National Skeet Shooting Association
National Skeet Shooting Association



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That’s It. It’s That Simple.

Range safety procedures are posted in the skeet house, and you should familiarize yourself with club rules. If there’s anything you’re not sure of, ask a range officer. There’s always one around when the range is open.

Etiquette on the skeet field is just a matter of common sense. You probably will find yourself squadded with shooters whom you’ve never met before. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, and let them know you’re a new shooter. Skeet is an extremely social sport, so it’s not unusual to hear a lot of talking and joking going on between shooters. However, when any shooter steps on the shooting pad, be respectful by remaining quiet until he’s finished on the station. Always make sure the action on your gun is broken, or open, and when carrying always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Never load a shell until it’s your turn to shoot and you’ve stepped fully on to the shooting pad. If you wish to pick up your empty shells, be courteous and wait until the round is completed. Never pick up shells at station 7, since it’s against club rules, and can be extremely dangerous.

As mentioned earlier, any gun capable of firing two (2) shots can be used for skeet. However, the most popular are semi-automatics, and over-and-unders. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each.

SEMI-AUTOMATICS

The main reason for the auto’s popularity is its cost. At about $500 to $700, it’s within reach of just about everyone. If you buy a good quality gun, it could also be used for tournament shooting, if you decide someday to go that way. It’s not unusual to see guns worth thousands of dollars being used in tournaments for the smaller gauges, but replaced for the cheaper auto’s in the 12 gauge events. This is mainly due to the lower amount of recoil a shooter feels when shooting a semi-automatic. Another advantage is its versatility. By changing barrels, and chokes, your gun can be used for trap, sporting clays, hunting, or anything else you wish to shoot. If you never intend to become a competitive shooter, the semi-automatic in 12 or 20 gauge is probably the only gun you’ll ever need.

If you feel you would enjoy shooting the smaller gauges, then the auto is not your best choice. If you shoot skeet in all four gauges, and you used automatics, you’d need four different guns. There are shooters who do this, but when shooting competitively this leads to other problems. Every gun has its own personality and eccentricities. Some shoot high, some low; some a little to the left or right. Every time you pick up one of your guns, if you don’t remember its various quirks, it’s going to cost you targets and maybe a match. Another problem with auto’s, is they tend to jam frequently. Since you’re only allowed two gun malfunctions a round in a registered tournament, it’s important to clean them often. Also, its lighter weight can hinder your ability to follow through or swing on the target. But, if you’re a reloader like me, the worst part of shooting an automatic, is having to pick up your shells at the end of the round. There are few things in life I hate more than this.

OVER-AND-UNDER SHOTGUNS

Over-and-under shotguns cost two or three times more than semi-auto’s. Mechanically, they’re much stronger, as well as more reliable. They’re usually heavier, aiding in developing a much smoother swing. They have the same versatility as automatics, since interchangeable choke tubes can enable your gun to do all types of shooting. But, by far the most important advantage of the 0/U is its ability to be tubed for the smaller shotgun gauges.

Skeet tubes are long cylinders, inserted into the barrels of your gun, which convert those barrels from one gauge to another. By tubing your 12 gauge you’re converting your one gun into four. You now have eliminated the expense of having to buy four different guns.

Of course, there are disadvantages also. In 12 gauges the recoil in a 0/U can be a lot heavier than in automatics. And should your gun break down, you’ve lost four and not one. However, with today’s modern guns, chances are fairly remote this will ever happen. But probably the most important reason, in my opinion, for owning an O/U, is you don’t have to bend down to pick up your shells at the end of each round, they’re already in your ammunition pouch.

By Barry Greenberg