Phil Kiner Blog

Trapshooting Hall of Fame enshrine  * 25 time All-American  *  44-time Wyoming State Champion

Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame enshrinee * Trapshooting instructor * Trap & Field columnist of “The Secret”

The first to shoot 400x400, not once, but twice. * Economist * Food connoisseur * Father * Grandpa  Husband * Trapshooter

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November 2, 2013

This blog is one of mixed emotions. My long-time mentor, brother, friend, father-figure John Von Kennel passed September 15.  This blog is not going to eulogize John, but talk about some other things that happened that we “normal” people don’t think about or imagine that exists. I will talk about Big John in a future blog.

I will start at the beginning, so bear with me. John had been failing pretty rapidly so he went from making regular trips to the gun club and his “shops” to pretty much homebound. This was due to severe macular degeneration but also the reoccurrence of kidney cancer that “bloomed.” This all happened in just a few week’s time.

Anyway, myself and long-time friend of both of us Dennis Flynn, were appointed co-personal representatives and were also granted durable power of attorney by John. This was because being a life-long bachelor, John had no children and also no close relatives. Dennis and I and our wives were as close to real family as he had. Dennis and I were taking care of John and when it became apparent that the end was near Dennis went to work and got John admitted to Davis Hospice in Cheyenne. While Dennis was jumping through the hoops to get John admitted I was with John the first day of this story or at least the first as far as Dennis and I are aware.

First some necessary background:

John had accumulated a lot of stuff in his 86 years and was also very organized about it. He has about 1/3 block on the east side of town that is a little isolated. On this property starting from the east end of the block and moving west is:  a double-car garage, a small shed just west of it, then going west 50 yards is another larger shed and just west of this shed is a large pole barn. The pole barn has a concrete floor, side wall skylights, is insulated and heated, with lots of lights and electrical, three large overhead doors with openers and is about 40x100, i.e. a damned good  “man cave.” Then moving further west on the property is a 12x15 shed and then at the far west end of the property is a detached single-car garage. There used to be a house, but it burned down and that is when John bought that lot.

John loved surplus desks, file cabinets and other such things. Anyway the barn was full of tools, power equipment such as radial arm saws, chop saws, air hammers, oxy-acetylene equipment, drawers full of wrenches, screw drivers ( I think the first screwdriver John ever owned was in a drawer there), sockets and socket sets, pliers (any size, shape, style or purpose), electric hand tools, cordless hand tools, vices, air compressors, and about anything else in the tool category you could think of.

Also hanging from the ceiling and on the wall are 10 stuffed geese in various poses, both standing and in flight. The fish are not to be left out with four walleye mounts, a couple of them in the 10-12 pound range. There is also 15 to 20 framed DU auction-type prints. And typical of a man cave there are some calendars with nice looking and well built young ladies hanging on the wall in various places.

There are also two trailers, one the size to haul a golf cart or 4-wheeler and the other large enough for a small tractor. Additionally, there is  a 1999 Honda 4-wheeler that we found (luckily as you will learn later) had some mechanical/electrical issues.

The list could go on forever but I will end it with the 66” tall by 40” wide by 24” deep high quality jewelers safe.

Now, as has been said—“the rest of the story” from my perspective.
As mentioned earlier we knew John was in trouble and failing rapidly. I had made John’s bank deposit for him on Monday. but did not have time to bring back the deposit slip that day. When I got to the house on Tuesday, he had taken a huge turn for the worse. I had to walk backwards with both hands extended for him to hang onto for him to navigate from the living room TV to his desk in the dining area. Note: six days prior he walked from the TV to the desk on his own with no assistance. I was going to leave but he wanted to shower so I helped him shower.  He had weakened so much over night that now I had to hold on to him with both hands for him to even walk and he could not lift his feet over the tub on his own to take his shower. I contacted Dennis, he came over and called a nurse he knew who came and helped with the “nurse” type stuff that Dennis and I are not good at. He then set up the appointment for hospice to come for their evaluation.

I left his house and headed home which takes me within a few blocks of John’s land and buildings. I decided to check inside the pole barn. Strangely the overhead door would only open about 18 inches or so and then would stop. I hit the electric opener several times and it would just not go all the way up. I then rolled under the overhead door and into the barn. The first thing I noticed was how dark it was inside, but being a little shook up over John’s turn for the worse and his rapid deterioration and also being late getting home (as usual), I never took time to think about what I was really seeing. Next, I noticed the reason the overhead door would only come up part way was that there was a tie down strap that went from the east overhead  door, looped around the refrigerator, around the walk in door knob and finally hooked in a slot on the roller channel of the door I was trying to open. I assumed (never assume, you know the ass-u-me analogy) that for some reason John was worried about a break-in and thought this might keep intruders out.

I found the light switch and turned it on and made a quick recon tour of the barn and its contents. All the work benches were as they were the last time I had been there, the two trailers and 4-wheeler were side by side in the middle and everything else looked normal until I got to the east end of the building to the safe. The safe had four crow bars jammed between the door and the safe on the hinge side and the torch and welder were beside it. I called Dennis and asked him what the hell John had been doing to the safe and what could be the reason for screwing with the door. He told me it looked more like it might be an amateur safe cracker than someone fixing the door. We both chuckled about that  and I  left the barn.

While I was rolling under the door to get out, a car drives by slowly and for some reason my suspicions kick in and I try catch the car and see who it is. The car disappeared after turning a corner and I forget about it.

Fast forward to Sunday. John has been in hospice since Wednesday. Hospice staff did in-home Tuesday night, gave him some pain meds to keep him comfortable and then checked him in Wednesday. Dennis and I are stopping at hospice three to four times a day, but it is apparent that he will never come back to his house. Leaving the trap club on Sunday, I visited about 3 pm. As soon as I saw John I called Marsha, Dennis, and long-time friend Maurice Brown and told them if they wanted to see John  alive they needed to come PDQ because the light in his eyes was out. I then leave hospice and being totally stressed out, stop by Town and Country Liquor (Maurice’s place) , buy two bottles of Cabernet and go home and then proceed to drink them with Marsha. Actually she just listened while I talked and drank. Then, the phone rings and it is Dennis. He tells me there has been a break-in at John’s pole barn and the police are there. Marsha drives me (for obvious reasons) to the property and about 2 ½ blocks away from the pole barn is a city police car and a county sheriff’s car stopped in the middle of the street next to a 4-wheeler and 5x10 trailer. They are both John’s (from the barn)  and the trailer is  loaded with a drill press, radial arm saws, air compressors, oxy- acetylene  torch and bottles, etc, etc, etc.

The theft was discovered when a homeowner got suspicious of the 4-wheeler and trailer sitting in front of his house and called the police department. They ran the trailer plates, found out the trailer was  registered to John and then somehow (this is a curious twist) were able to determine that John was in hospice. The police called hospice who gave them Dennis’s phone number. Thus, we all ended up at the scene.

Turns out the 4-wheeler has some kind of mechanical/electrical problem and quit running on the thieves while they were making the get-a-way and were only a short ways from the pole barn. After much cussin’ and discussion the cops decide it is ok to take the 4-wheeler and trailer back to the pole barn. Dennis’s son Stuart is finally able to get it started and in gear, so back to the barn we go.

When we get to the barn we are all shocked at what the interior looks like. All of the desk tops are cleared of the various pieces of power tools that had been setting on them. Much of the better “loose” stuff that was sitting on shelves on the walls was moved to the east end of the barn in front of the east overhead door. Most of the power cords (and there were a lot of them) are gone and all that is left is the ends that have been cut off. Apparently, the cords were used as ropes to tie down some of the bigger pieces of tools/equipment. AND, the safe is sitting there minus its door which is lying on the floor next to it. Of course the safe is empty. We have pretty good reason to believe that the safe was full of target grade .45, 38, & 22 LR ammo and maybe some coins. Further examination shows that the many desk and file cabinet drawers were almost or totally empty. They had gotten away with a lot of “stuff” beyond what was recovered on the 4-wheeler.

While we are looking around someone notices that all the side-wall window sky lights are covered. The thieves had cut up furniture pads and nailed them over the windows so they could work inside at night without anyone being able to see light from the outside. So they had apparently been working on the “job” at night and at least from Monday (remember I was inside on Tuesday afternoon) until they left with the 4-wheeler/trailer and who knows what else on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

When we decide there is nothing else to do at the barn and get  it locked up, I go home and Dennis goes to hospice. Ten minutes after Dennis gets to John’s room, John passes. His graveside service is the following Thursday. But, this is not the end of this story.

 

The following week Dennis takes his two hired hands over to the property to mow it, thinking that it will make it look more occupied and less of a target. When one of the guys gets to the east end close to the double garage, he discovers that the garage has been broken into. The back wall has been busted through with (presumably) a large hammer and probably pry bar. Further inspection of the other buildings shows that the shed just east of the barn has had the padlock/hasp busted off the door and the shed just west of the barn has also been broken into. The sheriff’s office is called and they never responded to this call. Dennis and I discuss the situation and he has Dan (the hired hand) change all the door locks, all the padlocks, screw the shed door shut and we install wireless cell technology burglar alarms and motion detectors inside the buildings. BUT,  that is still not the rest of the story.

So now I decide I need to start checking on the property (as does Dennis) so when either of us were anywhere close we would run by and do a quick door check. Additionally, since I am in one of my phases where I am up between 2 and 4 am I would hop in the pickup and run over there and check things out. Everything was calm until Sept. 25 when I was headed home from the Longhorn Poker league. It was about 9:30 pm and my route home takes me within a few blocks of John’s property. I debated about whether or not I needed to go check, but my internal radar was buzzing so I headed over. When I was about a block east of the pole barn headed west towards it, I noticed a vehicle sitting on the road in front of the barn. I sped up and the other vehicle started up and sped towards me. We met at the intersection but I was in my PU and it was enough taller than their vehicle and I could not read the license plate. I shot a U-turn and about the time I got headed east they turned left (north), so when I got to the corner to turn they were one block ahead and turning right. I put the pedal to the floor and when I hit  the intersection and turned right there was nothing, absolutely nothing to see anywhere. No vehicle speeding away, no tail lights, no nothing, just pitch black night and even the street light was out.

While right after this little chase was going on, I called the Laramie County Sheriff’s office. I told them that I thought these guys were the perpetrators and also, by the way, I told them I was armed with a riot shotgun and two Glock 40s and I was going to deal with them if I could find them! This was a bluff on my part, but it worked.. Believe it or not, they had an officer there in about 10 minutes. The good news was that Officer Murray, the responding officer, actually took the situation serious and actually investigated the crime scene for the first time since everything started. He found hair on a nail where they had crawled through the wall of the double garage and got one good print inside. He also found a “burglar tool” outside stuck in the ground and it had a good print on it. After all this the evening ended at about 11.30.

The auction of all the personal items will occur November 16 & 17 conducted by Al Rose Auctions of Cheyenne. Dennis and I are looking forward to the sale so we can disconnect all the security, cease our drive-byes and also eliminate the Security Company that is also patrolling at random intervals.

There have been no leads on the thieves and probably won’t be. So it goes. BUT,  if you are in a pawn shop and see some good air tools or anything else tool related  with VK written on them in spray enamel let me know.

Now for the lesson contained herein.

Never assume that you are alone in your own little world and no one is paying attention to your comings and goings. In this day and age a person needs to do a better job of paying attention to surroundings and a little less open about bragging about personal things and where they may be. I also learned that it is not unusual for banks and other places to send someone to house-sit on the day of a funeral/wake/visitation since this is a great day for burglars to hit a place. ALL the family is gone and the length of time no one will probably be around is pretty well defined. Also hospital/hospice rolls give thieves another chance at a window of opportunity for places to hit.

A word from Dieter
A word from Dieter

As shooters herald in Spring with the staccato notes of their shotguns, Krieghoff personnel are on the move to bring factory service to a location near you.

 
Krieghoff Factory Trained Gunsmiths

Having manned the Krieghoff Masters, World English Sporting and US Open Sporting Clay championships, the gunsmiths now prepare to make their inaugural journey to the Cardinal Shooting Center in Marengo, OH.

 

Krieghoff is located in Vendor Building 7 and will provide factory service at the Buckeye Classic (June 1 – 5), Ohio State Shoot (June 20 – 26) and the Cardinal Classic (August 17 – 21). 

 

In addition, the KI crew will be in Sparta at the Grand American (August 3 – 13), providing plenty of opportunity for you to have your gun  updated, serviced or checked over for a season of good shooting.

 

Service appointments for all events can be made by calling 610-847-5173 or via e-mail at service@krieghoff.com.  Scheduled appointments receive first priority with the added bonus of knowing when your gun will be ready for you. Walk in appointments are welcome, and will be scheduled in the next available time slot.   Annual services scheduled before 3:00 p.m. can be picked up the next morning in most cases.

 

The mid height rib K-80 ACS model continues to grow in popularity and will be the grand prize in the Krieghoff Challenge on June 17, 2011 at the Pennsylvania State Trap Shoot.  The event expects strong attendance and an exciting shoot off for the K-80 ACS.  Be sure to register early and look for John and Nancy Allem of Allem’s Guncraft, longtime Authorized Krieghoff Dealer and well known figure in Elysburg and the trapshooting community.

 

The KX-5 has ended a successful production life and has been retired from the Krieghoff line. Parts and service for both the KX-5 and its predecessor the KS-5 will continue to be available. Questions have arisen as to what will replace Krieghoff’s single barrel trap gun model……..

 

And with that we will leave you for now but strongly encourage you to check back here regularly for the latest information on Krieghoff products, especially new additions to the firearm line.  Be sure to visit www.krieghoff.com and check out our online store for a great selection of Krieghoff accessories.


 

 
 

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October 15, 2013

Ooops! 

I need to make a correction to my last post. The place I visited in Hackensack, Minnesota was the Birch Haven Resort located on the east shore of beautiful Birch Lake. Check it out at http://www.birchhavenmn.com/

I also need to correct the bartender’s name at the Legion. Her name  is Tammy, not Terry as I previously wrote. And her signature drink is the Tamarita. So with proper credit to Tammy, maybe you’ll be able to visit Hackensack, Minn., one day. And did I mention, the sunsets are spectacular!

See you in Trap & Field in the November issue!

Phil Kiner

 

October 10, 2013

It has been a long time since I posted anything personal on this blog but, now is a good time to start.

First, my life has changed significantly the past year. I officially retired from my “real” job at the Construction Management/General Services Division at the State of Wyoming on May 2,2013. I jokingly tell everyone that I am one of the few people you will ever meet that was on sick leave on my retirement day and was actually sick. In fact, I was in the hospital dealing with a very nasty infection in my left foot.  This infection caused me to miss most of this shooting and clinic season. I fired my first shot since the 2012 Grand on July 4, 2013 at the Wyoming State shoot.

I did manage  to shoot almost all of the Grand American without much score success, but success in the fact that I actually got to shoot. I am surprised at how long it took to gain strength.  I  booked some fall  clinics to keep me occupied. One clinic in particular needs mentioning. On Aug. 23,  the day of Marsha and my 44th wedding anniversary, I flew to Maui for a clinic—WITHOUT Marsha. She had to stay home and take care of her mother. I will pay for that one the rest of my life.
 

My fun activities and vacation week  started on Monday Sept. 23, with a bus trip to Mile High Stadium and Monday night football. Our Friend Maurice Brown has a suite and we will get to go to one or two games a year. What a way to watch a football game—It’s complete with food and refreshment, private bathroom, several big screen TVs to watch replays.  Watching Peyton Manning live is unreal. Television does not do him justice and when you see the pros live, it gives me as a trapshooter a special appreciation of his ability to hit a target.

My ticket to the Bronco's suite and the club level tickets to the Rockies/Red Sox game

The next night friends Buck and Debbie McVeigh, Rich McVeigh, Matt Fermilia, and myself journeyed to Coors Field to watch the Rockies and the Red Sox. The Rockies were out of it, but we got to watch them win a game and got to take in the rare Sox trip to Denver.

Thursday night we (Marsha, Betsy Head and myself) left for an “official” vacation.

We  went   to the Pine Haven Resort, Hackensack Minn.,  with  our friend Betsy Head. The Resort  is owned by Betsy’s long time friend Carol and her significant other Dave. This past weekend was Hackensack’s 9th annual Chainsaw Event which is the reason we decided to pick that weekend. The town closes off the main street for a couple of blocks and food and artsy craftsy vendors set up. They have a closed area where “chainsaw artists” are busy creating their art pieces. The weekend culminates with an auction of all the pieces that the artists completed. The town uses this as their fundraiser to help with a lot of the needed local projects that taxes don’t cover.

 

Here are some of the cabins.

We had a great time. Our cabin was about 50 feet from the shore of Pine Lake. We went  fishing a couple of times with walleye as  our main objective and our guide Dave was the only one to catch one. Marsha did land a small northern which we released. Other than that it was worms and bluegills for some good fun and action on the water as the walleye were slow.

"Mad Max" aka Marsha showing off one of her 15 bluegills that morning. it was cool, but the lake was like a sheet of glass and we had fun. Not shown is a "mama Loon" which kept surfacing close to the boat, but as soon as we tried to get close enough for a pic she would dive. We never got a picture that was close enough to actually see what she was.
 

The chainsaw event was fun. There were several lumberjack contests, many vendors selling everything from handmade wood products to my favorite—food! It climaxed with the Chainsaw Art auction. We picked up some interesting pieces to take home and put in “The Furball”. The Furball is the Cheyenne Animal Shelter’s annual fundraiser dinner and auction.

View of sale items right before auction started

The Archangel Michael Slaying the Dragon of evil. Ethan completed this piece over the weekend and it was amazing to see in "real life"

Can you believe, birch bark lampshades?

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The carved roses are very lifelike

Ethan of "Wilderness Woodcarvings" with a piece he did out of driftwood. Ethan also sculpted the Archangel slaying the Dragon piece which was the talk of the show


One of the unique pieces that was in the auction

My weekend buddy Hunter son of Michell and JD Ludgren owner of "Insane Concessions" one of their specialities

Additionally, we took an air tour of the area and had a great flight. The leaves were just starting to turn and it is unreal how many lakes there are in that part of the country. John Justad, owner operator of Beaver Air Tours is a great pilot. We did a special private booking and this got a longer tour of the area without the airplane being full. Be sure to check out his website http://beaverairtours.com/ . It is called Beaver Air because he flies a de Havilland DHC-2 aka Beaver as his “go-to plane.”  I also got a T-shirt that says “I rode the Beaver.”


The lake was peaceful

We ended up heading home Wednesday Oct. 2 and driving all night,  pulling a U Haul trailer with all of our purchases, to get home in front of a predicted blizzard. Other than a loss of sleep we got home safe and sound and now the world is back to normal, whatever that is. Now it is time to get some work done around the house and spend the winter getting into shooting shape.

Phil Kiner

Usually I end with a favorite food, but here is Terry, the bartender.


Meet Terry, the head bartender at the Legion which is one of the favorite watering holes of Dave and Carol. Terry’s signature drink is a Terry-ita and the limit is 2 per evening unless you are walking home.

 

 

 

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Analyzing changes and for how long

Trapshooters are always changing “things” in their quest for the extra target, and since none of us ever misses a target due to any mistake on our part—coupled with the fact that in order to get better, one must do some experimentation with either shooting mechanics or gun setup—this leads us to analyzing changes. If you are experimenting or testing stuff, you need to know how to judge it and for how long to continue the test. In many respects, knowing how long to continue a test can be more important than the test itself. In addition, it might be prudent to know when to put something new to the test as opposed to writing it off to a bad day.

The following story illustrates this last point. I went to the Old Pharts Gun & Bad Advice Club to give Zeke Jr. private lessons. At the end of two days of one-on-one, Junior was shooting significantly better even though some of the things he was now doing—and especially the way his gun was now set—were diametrically opposed to the way his local self-appointed D/20-yard/D All-American coaches (AACs) had recommended and espoused as being absolutely perfect. In fact, they were quite perturbed that I had the audacity to change anything on Junior’s gun (Junior was at 20-21 yards and averaging about 92 in the singles, but nothing needed to be changed, especially not by some prima donna from out of town).

After the lessons Junior went to the Grand, had a great time, had a great shoot, and shot some great scores, winning junior champion in one of the handicaps during Grand Week. He came home with two trophies and never had a handicap score below 93 or a singles score below 95 the entire time. During the Grand and a couple of shoots right after, he got two or 2 1/2 yards.

Then he went to the biggest shoot in the area, and after being on the biggest streak in his life, broke a blazing 82 in the main handicap. So what happens now?

The AACs said that they had been trying to tell Junior all along that his gun was not “right”—the meltdown in the big handicap finally proved that his gun needed to be set back to where it had been originally. The specific point of contention was how high his comb was set. (Bob would say to me, “That figures—you have never seen a comb you would not raise.”) So the AACs took 4 1/16˝ worth of spacers out of the comb. As it had been set, the gun was shooting only about 75/25 (which is not all that high for a fast shot), so taking the spacers out brought it down to 50/50 (which is too low for 99.9999% of trapshooters).

Junior then went into a mega slump that lasted through the fall into the spring and continued until the Wyoming State Shoot the next July. There his father approached me and asked if I could watch Junior shooting. The first thing I did was have him mount the gun so I could check how well he was looking down it. His comb was so low that I could not see the pupil of his eye over the rib. When asked why the comb was so low, he told me the above story.

The reasons for retelling the story: First, it is a great example of a shooter having one bad day and blaming the gun. (Side point: this shooter was now on the 23-yard line, which is where many shooters have trouble with their handicap yardage for the first time, as has been covered in previous articles). Next, the gun was changed back to the way it was when he wasn’t shooting well and completely away from what had been working, therefore causing a deep, deep slump. Third, it illustrates waiting too long before changing something back to original when something is obviously not working. Fourth, it is a great example of “friends” having ulterior motives that may or may not include having you break as many targets as you are capable of breaking.

In this case, the AACs were mad because I was on their turf and it was more important to them to prove that I wasn’t needed and that they were right than it was for Junior to shoot well. They were so wrapped up in preconceived notions that they probably had no idea what they had actually done to Junior. Also, they were exhibiting another normal human nature trait: get everyone to do it the way you do, and that makes you “right.” If you are “right,” you do not have to change, and changing is deathly traumatic to a lot of people.

The problem with this situation is you have a young shooter being pressured by the “elders.” Sometimes such pressure is so great that you have to yield to it and shoot worse because the pain of shooting bad isn’t as bad as the pain and the pressure experienced when shooting well.

Enough of the story telling and back to the article. I am going to generally group changes into a couple or three categories. The most major change is changing the entire gun, which has been discussed in a previous article and is beyond the scope of the topic at hand. The next category of change would be something moderate, such as switching stocks on the current gun. The third category would include less major but very significant things such as raising/lowering/shifting the comb, adding a barrel weight or weight/reducer to the buttstock, changing the stock length, changing styles of recoil pad, raising/lowering/twisting the adjustable buttplate, adding/removing a barrel blinder, or even changing the color of the front bead. While these are the most common and easily accomplished changes, such “small” changes can still have a larger impact on performance than many shooters would expect or believe. Never underestimate the impact of even a small change, and always remember, it if makes more smoke or feels better, it is better.

One time I had a student call me up because his doubles had dropped from a 90-to-91 average down to the 70s. I asked him what he had changed, and the answer was “nothing.” After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out what to try, it turned out that he had taken two 1/16˝ spacers out of the comb on his doubles gun. Why had he done that, when he was shooting doubles better than he had ever in his life? Because his AACs had determined his gun was shooting too high and he needed to drop his comb to completely flat. Putting these spacers back in his comb was worth about 15 targets on his doubles average. (Normally, this change would not make that much difference, but his gun was probably too low-shooting to start with, and making it lower put him over the edge.)

One comment before we move on to testing changes: Change only one thing at a time! If you adjust four things and go blind, then you will not know what change it was that made things worse.

Switching stocks is a major event, but unlike switching guns is one that is easy to let go too long (because it goes on ole Betsy) before fine-tuning. If you have 500 to 1,000 rounds through a new stock and are not sure that it is significantly better, then you need to start looking at things to try. Always start with what is different from the old one to get ideas of where to start. This comment applies to most changes: if you have 1,000 rounds through your gun after a change and you are shooting it worse, then the change you made was not a good one, and the odds of it getting better after this point are about 95-to-1 against it.

The next group is easier to deal with. Most of these changes can be determined almost instantly—or at least within the first 100 to 200 shots. If it is worse after a change with anything in this group after 200 shots, then it is worse—period—and you need to go back to where you started. One side note here: Some shooters are so used to seeing a certain sight picture that when they change the comb height, they will push/raise their heads trying to get the view to be the same as it was before. If you do this, you are fighting the change, and you will not be able to accurately judge whether it is better or not.

The good thing about changing things in this group is that you can experiment quickly and easily and not have long-lasting negative effects if the change was not better. For example, let us assume that your gun’s POI is set perfectly, and you decide to test a little higher-shooting gun, so you raise the comb. Normally I suggest moving the comb up/down no more than 1/16˝ at a time. But for this example, let us assume that you raised the comb 3/8˝. This much of a move will make you “go blind” on the line. If you went out and shot the gun that way for 50 or even 100 rounds, shooting horribly, and then you put it back to where it was originally, you will go back to normal after just a few shots (probably less than 25). Most importantly, there will be no long-lasting negative effect from the experiment.

There is another group of things that are not on the gun that can have a significant impact. Some of these are new glasses/prescription, changing lens color or polarization, changing lens light transmission (i.e., lighter/darker), gaining/losing weight, changing to contacts from prescription lenses, adding more or less tape/dot (one-eye shooters), using headphones while shooting, etc.

This last group is interesting in that shooters change these all the time and never think about that being the cause of their shooting getting either better or worse. One example is prescription lenses. If you get a new prescription that is significantly stronger than the old one, you may have to change the comb on your stock. The same goes for going from lenses to contacts. The reason for this is refraction of light. As you add strength to the lenses, you might have to raise the comb. If reducing strength or going to contacts, you might have to lower the comb.

In closing, remember, if you are not getting better, you are getting worse. Therefore, it is prudent to do some experimentation; just don’t try it for the first time at the state championships or the Grand unless there is a very compelling reason to do so.

In addition, in case you did not notice, I never said “right” or “wrong” when talking about changes; it was always “better” or “worse”—and for a reason. Your brain rebels against you when you tell it that it is wrong, so you should stay away from that connotation. You are judging all changes based on how you shoot after the change, and it is just different—not right or wrong.

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Til next time,
Phil Kiner

Those who have questions about shooting technique or equipment for Phil Kiner, please direct them as follows:

c/o Trap & Field
1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax 317-633-2084

e-mail editorial@trapandfield.com
Please include your name, phone number
and/or e-mail address.

 

 

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Thinking about change

From Feb 2010—THE Secret

It is time to think seriously about shooting for this coming year. One thing to consider is changes and changing. Trapshooters are notorious for breaking 100 straight and then trading that gun off. What is less realized but just as true is that many struggling trapshooters have the tendency not to change anything even when a problem lasts for years. So how do you know when it is time to change something, especially when it seems so hard to see the trend when you are in the middle of it?

First, let me give some examples of things I have seen in my career. If you have spent several years shooting at least a few hundred targets per year and have seen no improvement, then you need to think about making some changes. If you’ve been on the 20- or 21-yard line for your entire career, perhaps there is something that needs changing. If you made a change, and three years later your averages are still lower than before, then perhaps something isn’t working and that particular change wasn’t what was needed.

Looking through old Average Books will illustrate what I’m talking about. It doesn’t really matter what year you pick; the numbers are similar. Approximately 75% of women and 45% of men are in C and D classes. Approximately 75% of women and 50% of men are handicapped at 21 yards or less. It has been a few years since these breakdowns were published, but my assumption is that the percentages remain the same or very close. So what is the point?

The reason the numbers remain constant is probably due to either shooter turnover or a large group of shooters who are not improving over time. If you fall into this latter group, then it is time to figure out what to change.

Regularly I run into shooters who will give an example of one shooter who does it “x” way, and from that one single example they assume that they have to do it that way and changing from doing it that way to try something else will not work. Or they continue to do it exactly the way all of the “experts” at their gun clubs claim it should be done, even when the local experts don’t have a better average than they do. Let’s see if a few anecdotal examples remind you of anything.

Zeke won the regional/state/local “big handicap” in 1980 with the lone 98. Since then he has never had a singles or handicap score that high and currently is averaging in the 80s in both disciplines. He can count on both hands the number of times he has been above 90 in the last 30 years. Yet when someone suggests his gun does not fit him correctly or that maybe he needs to do something different, he quickly points to that one great win and says it’s not the gun and everything is great. In this instance, 98+ percent of all the scores he shoots are below 90, yet one lone high score is presumed to prove the gun and everything else is perfect.

Zeke shoots several thousand registered targets each year, and in addition, he is at the club shooting several hundred practice per week. His scores are no better than they were several years ago. He is convinced that practice is the answer, and if he will just shoot enough, some morning he will wake up and magically be fixed.

Zeke shoots a lot of targets and belongs to the “gun-of-the-month club.” He shoots the new perfect gun for as long as it takes to find out that it’s not perfect and then trades it off on the next latest fashion hit. He cannot remember the last time he got 5,000 rounds through a gun before he traded off. He cannot tell you what configuration he actually shot the best. He just knows that the key is to find the perfect gun, and everything will get better.

Zeke was a one-eyed shooter. Then one day, at the urging of the local brain trust, he switched to two. His last full year shooting one eye, he carried a high 93% singles average and was competitive from the 22-yard line. In the three years since he switched, he has averaged between 90 and 91.5% at singles and is now on the 20-yard line. He says if he tries long enough, eventually he will be fully converted, and things will get better.

Zeke is the best singles shot at the club but cannot remember the last time he broke a handicap score that started with a nine. He is on the 23-yard line and always shoots handicap practice from the 27. His practice scores are as bad as or worse than his registered scores, but his solution is to continue practicing and doing everything exactly the same.

One definition of insanity is continuing to do everything the same in the hope that somehow the results will change.

Perhaps a change in the way you analyze things will help you. Instead of thinking about the one (or few) time(s) that everything fell into place, start computing the number of times you have not been successful. For example, if the major percentage of your scores are lower than what you think you are truly capable of, then it is time to try something different. This does not mean a shooter with an 89 average should count everything less than 99 as “bad”; something like 92 or 93 or 94 could be this shooter’s “magic number” for comparison analysis. Also if you have a stretch of more than one year and things are not improving or are getting worse, then think about change.

Successful shooting is about having the gun shoot where you are looking (on trap targets) and looking at the target properly. Cross-firing is the main problem that screws up looking properly. So when you change something one at a time, you should first test point of impact, or where/how you are looking, or one vs. two eyes. From this point, you can then fine-tune.

Til next time

 

 

 

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Tuning your gun, and a little history lesson

This is about gun adjustability and the main component that one needs for an adjustable gun: an adjustable comb. Anyone who thinks they can maintain top-level competition without adjustability is either Superman or kidding himself.

It has been said that the adjustable comb is one of the greatest inventions in the last 25 to 30 years. I may not be exactly correct as to the time, but the first adjustable combs were available on rifles more than 100 years ago. However, more relevant to our discussion is when they first showed up on shotguns, and that is where I found something interesting. He may not have been the first, but the most notable first use of the adjustable comb was by Hall of Famer and inspiration for the institution of the 27-yard line: Arnold Riegger.

Arnold talked about his adjustable comb in his autobiography, which I don’t believe is available anymore. Since I cannot find my copy to get exact quotes, I will rely on my memory for details and apologize in advance for any misstatements. Riegger talks about being different from other shooters and not being able to hit anything with his gun the way it was stocked from the factory. Playing around while trying to hit better, he discovered that if he put on one of the leather lace-on Monte Carlo cheek pieces, he hit all his targets better (and more of them), especially handicap. In fact, without it, he said he was pretty ineffective. Additionally, depending on the day, the weather and the targets, he would use cardboard cut off ammo boxes between the top of the comb and the add-on comb to adjust his gun so that he hit the targets better. Some days he took the boxtops out, and some days he added them back in to fine-tune his gun.

What is amazing to me is that today, if you saw Leo, Harlan, or Ray at the practice trap with an anvil hanging from the end of his barrel, the next day you would see people trying to shoot with anvils, but in Arnold’s time they all said that there was something wrong with him since he could not shoot well with a “properly fitted” trapgun. Now think about that: he was kicking butt, and they thought there was something wrong with him.

Riegger was the first shooter to actually use a higher point of impact, and everyone thought that his winning had nothing to do with the one thing he did that was different from everyone he was consistently beating. That is what I call brain-lock and refusing to look at the facts! The shotgun greats of the early era of trapshooting advocated a 50-50 shotgun; I remember reading one of the early how-to books where the statement was made that the perfect shotgun has a 50-50 pattern, meaning that 50% of the pattern is above/below/left/and right of the aiming point. Things sure have changed, and the old-timers would not believe it if they could see it.

I have been accused of tinkering with my gun too much, but there is usually a method to my madness, and at least I know (or think I know) what I am doing and why. It is my feeling that all shooters should play with the comb enough to know what the POI on their guns feel like when it is too high or too low. Why? Because in this age of setting targets with the angle meter or based on whoever is running the target-setting, you never know what height (or length) target you are going to get. Targets can be anywhere from just under eight feet to over 11 and from 40 to 55 yards—sometimes both ends of this spectrum on traps side by side at a major tournament.

You need to know what it feels like when your gun is set so high that you make a good move on the target and point it well but shoot over it. The only way to understand this feeling is to actually do it. A caveat here: many people think they are shooting over when they are actually shooting under, so do not assume that you are over. Keep raising your comb until you start missing. As a general rule, I will make changes only at handicap and not singles. I set my point of impact (POI) for singles as the baseline and then change it for handicap. For handicap I have my POI set so high that I am running on the ragged edge, but this is the way you will break more big scores from long yardage. I used to use a “West Coast” and an “East Coast” setting, but anymore I have settings for every place I go as noted in my log book.

When your gun is this high, you need to be willing to drop your POI when you get abnormal target-setting. A few years ago, during the preliminary handicap at the Wyoming State Shoot, I was 75 straight. There had been a little bit of wind from the north, and the targets were rising slightly. Then the wind shifted, going from about 10 mph from the northwest to about 15 mph from the south. This shift happened on the first post of the last trap. With the change, I went from smoking targets to barely breaking them, just hitting the top of them. I am not good enough to hold lower on the target when I shoot, so this was a real dilemma for me.

The last thing you generally want to do when you are straight is change something, but after I barely chinked the top of No. 87, I figured I had to do something. So before my 88th shot I called timeout, grabbed my handy Allen wrench, proceeded to lower my comb by taking out one 1/16˝ spacer, and finished the event straight. I am convinced lowering my comb for the last 13 targets saved the 100. Just to clarify: this was an extreme case, and very rarely would I do that in the middle of the event. But with an adjustable comb, at least you have the option.

When I first went on the clinic trail, most shooters had a POI that was too low to break big scores consistently. Now I will run into shooters who have their POI set too high because they are trying to emulate the local “big dog” who has his gun shooting a full pattern high or even higher. I totally disagree with this approach since not everyone is wired the same and therefore optimal POI is different for everyone. Previously I have written about optimal POI, but it may be time to revisit it.

One other reason for an adjustable comb is that we change physically from year to year. In the last three years, for my baseline setting, I have had to drop my comb by two spacers and slide it to the right about 3/32˝. I am sure this is because I had gained weight, and added weight means more cheek on the comb (vice versa if you happen to be losing).

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Chuck and Jennifer Badger are noted for their signature brisket and “top secret” sauce to go with it but their greatest creation is their triple-berry pie. This one makes my all-time top 10 great desserts list.

 

 

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 Some ins and outs (or is it ‘ups and downs’?)
of adjustable ribs

There is always confusion about how to adjust shotguns for point of impact (POI) and where the classic “figure 8” the beads-sight-picture theory fits in. The confusion is heightened by the addition of adjustable ribs to the mix.

First, a couple of points about gun adjustments and how they affect your POI. Moving the comb effectively moves the pattern in the direction you moved the comb. Up is up, down is down, left is left, and right is right. Regarding the rib, moving it up at the muzzle—making the front bead higher above the barrel—moves the POI lower. Ribs that bend the barrel work the same, but instead of moving the rib down (to make it shoot higher), the barrel is actually being pulled up. Additionally, because there is pressure on the barrel, sometimes the POI moves can be erratic; i.e., one notch could be one inch one time and six inches the next. So for the ribs, at the front, up is down and down is up. This would also be the same for changeable ribs; i.e., a 90/10 rib will be lower in the front than a 60/40 rib will be. (This assumes that the comb height remains constant.)

Next, let’s talk about the classic “you must see a figure 8” theory. I believe in this statement: “The guy who tells you that you must have a figure 8 to shoot never broke a 100 in the handicap.” This does not mean I believe that the figure 8 is bad, but that we should be worried more about getting our guns shooting where we are looking as opposed to having some preconceived sight picture that we “need” to achieve. The classic figure 8 will not give the same POI among different brands and models, or even among different guns of the same model and brand. One of the advantages of the adjustable/changeable ribs is that if you do have a “view” that you prefer to see, you can tune your gun to shoot where you are looking by adjusting/switching ribs and still get the view you prefer.

Where to start? Assuming you already know where your previous gun was shooting, you would look at the owner’s manual and set the rib so it would approximate your previous POI. With the rib set, then adjust your comb to get a figure 8 sight picture. Why? Because the factory predicted POI settings are based on a figure-8 view. Then you would add or subtract 1/16˝ from the comb until you get to smoking targets with a high percentage of center hits. As mentioned in a previous article, I like to set POI with the trap set to throw straightaway targets from Post 3. Start there and do some fine-tuning, then rotate to the other posts. When you are centering the fixed angles from all posts, then let the trap oscillate normally.

This is where it gets a little tricky. If you have a setting that gives you a full figure 8 or one where you can see some gap between the beads, you are probably good to go. If you are not used to any gap between the beads, then at first your mind may reject this new view. Shoot the gun this way enough to see if you can get used to the new gap look. I like to have at least a full figure 8 or a little gap between the beads because with your head higher, it improves visibility over the gun barrel. If you get the comb flat enough that the beads are in line with each other, you are cutting your vision around the barrel/rib significantly. If you are used to this flat picture, the increased vision you will achieve being higher over the rib is worth converting your brain to accepting this as being normal.

If the gap is too much and your brain cannot handle that much rib between the beads, you will have to adjust the rib so that you get a sight picture your mind will accept. A quick tip for those of you with fixed ribs: have the gunsmith move your middle bead forward to get the sight picture you want, and you are good to go. Moving the middle bead forward will not impact POI; it only changes the way it looks by decreasing the gap between the beads. How to do this will depend on what type of adjustable rib your gun has. If it is one that pivots at the back and the front bead is all that rises/lowers, then first you will lower the comb 1/32˝ at a time while at the same time lowering the front bead enough to get more of the sight picture your brain needs. Lowering the comb lowers the POI, but lowering the front bead raises the POI, so what you are trying to accomplish is getting the sight picture more to what your brain wants to see while keeping the gun shooting where it was. Now you need to shoot the gun again, going through the same process for sighting-in as before. By making the moves incrementally like this, you can “circle the wagons” and get the gun where it needs to be.

If you have a rib that pivots (i.e., the front moves down and the back moves up at the same time, like a teeter-totter), you will go through exactly the same process as above except that the moves are more noticeable. The reason for this is that ribs that move in this manner will generally have notches that determine the amount of each change. These notches will typically equate to a pattern move of 10% or more. With these ribs, it will probably be necessary to move the comb up/down about 1/16˝ after a rib move. The ribs that pivot generally have a screw adjustment that is unlimited in how much or how little you can move it at one time. If you have a gun with changeable ribs, the process will be identical as above, with the exception that you change ribs instead of moving them.

Now for a couple of keys to tuning the variable ribs. First, make your moves relatively small, keep track of where you start, and record all the moves you make. Also, try to get the factory-predicted POI close to where your other gun was shooting; this will shorten the process. If your old gun was shooting about 10 inches high and you start with the new gun in either the highest or lowest impact setting, you are going to have to make a lot of incremental moves to get where you need to be. If you don’t know where your other gun was shooting, instead of starting with the flattest setting (which I see a lot), start with a predicted POI of between six to 10 inches high and then go through the sight-in process outlined. Many shooters have a gun that is shooting flatter than they actually need, and this is a good time to test to see if that applies to you.

The other key is to get the gun close and then go shoot it enough to get a feel for what it is doing. If you are struggling with targets that are slightly flat, you may be a little high or vice versa. Keep track of your scores so that you can actually see your trend. Listen to your brain when it talks to you as it is giving you feedback that you need for the process.

© Copyright 2012 to SerVaas Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

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One reader asks Phil:
What in your opinion is the best way to practice.  Sometimes I feel like I am "practicing without a purpose"! 

 

Phil Kiner:
I tell students in clinic that they should either shoot practice working on "something" or shoot for score. What I mean by work on something is to pick your problem post and go stand on it for the whole round trying different things such as hold point,  look point or perhaps a comb adjustment (up/down).  Play around with something different to see if it will work and this way you will at least try some different things.


If you are not working on something specific, then shoot for score for a specific. Pretend like if you break this 25 you win your state singles championship or play like you are in a shootoff of the championship.  Just play like anything that comes to mind and that will put a little more pressure on you to produce during practice.

Hope this helps-- Phil 

 

 

 

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Seeing and the bird/bead relationship

When talking about looking and seeing, one topic that frequently comes up is the bird/bead relationship: what it should look like, how to see it, and what it has to do with pulling/releasing the trigger.

First, what does the bird/bead relationship look like or what should it look like, and who does or should see it? Before getting into the meat of the discussion, I will make one very important point. I believe everyone sees the bird/bead relationship subconsciously. Not everyone sees it consciously, and there is where it gets tricky.

As I have mentioned before, human nature is to assume that what works for me has to work for you, and what I feel/see is what you should feel/see, etc. The reason I think everyone subconsciously sees or is aware of the bird/bead relationship is has to do with the accuracy and consistency with which many shooters shoot. If there were no visual reference point between the gun and the target, scores would be lower in general and for sure much more inconsistent.

When you are shooting really well, you can tell on a shot that pretty much smokes the target if you were still just a little off in one direction or the other. Your ability to know exactly where you were with each shot when you are shooting extremely well is part of the proof. Your logical self will tell you that it is not possible to see the difference in your pattern’s impact of three or four inches at 30 to 40 yards because the shotgun is not that precise. Yet at the same time, we have all had the experience of knowing exactly where the shot was placed. Even if it was only three or four inches off dead center, you knew it.

Additionally, I know from personal experience and from observing other shooters that if you add or subtract as little as 1/32˝ from the comb height, you can tell the difference in how your gun hits targets (better or worse), everything else being equal. Without a constant reference, those types of changes would not be possible to discern. Another point here is that it is easier to discern a difference with a minor change the closer to perfect (for you) the point of impact is.

Anyway, there are several similar examples that will lead to that same conclusion, but for now let’s just assume that everyone sees the bird/bead relationship subconsciously.

After having spent that much time trying to convince you of this, I will be as adamant that not everyone can or does or ever will see a bird/bead relationship consistently consciously. So what makes the difference? I am convinced it is partly how your visual system functions. It is also in part a function of whether you are a one- or two-eyed shooter. (As said in previous discussions of one- and two-eyed shooters, if you close it, squint it, tape it or dot it, then you are one-eyed for purposes of this discussion.) One-eyed shooters cannot see the bead with the off-eye. They have no binocular vision, and that makes the barrel appear solid as opposed to “ghosty” when you have the gun mounted and are looking down the barrel. Since the barrel appears to be solid to the one-eyed shooter, he/she will probably see the bird/bead relationship more often than will the two-eyed shooter, to whom the barrel looks more transparent. Having said that, there are both one- and two-eyed shooters who don’t regularly see any bird/bead relationship and those who do.

Now for part of the point of this discussion which relates back to earlier articles on how and where to look and focus. If you normally don’t see a bird/bead relationship and and then make the attempt to see this relationship when you shoot, the result will be that you focus on the bead more than the bird. That will normally result in a miss. You can see more than one thing at a time, but you can focus on only one object at one distance. If you focus between two objects, such as the target and the bead, it is easier to see them both. But now you are not focused totally on the target. Anything else you see is from your secondary vision. Seeing something in your secondary vision is not focusing on it. If you are not focused on it, you will not hit it (at least not consistently).

Sometimes shooters think they have to see the bird/bead relationship because their personality profile tends to the control side, and for them it is more difficult to differentiate between when they are really focused on the target and when they are not. This is especially true for one-eyed shooters. My theory in these instances is that the shooter is shifting his/her vision back to the bead at the instant the trigger is pulled. This action causes the shot to be based more on timing than vision. When you look at the bead, you have less muzzle control than when you are focused on the target.

I use an exercise to illustrate this loss of control when focused on your bead. The exercise is more dramatic with your shotgun, but you can also do it with your finger, and it goes as follows. Pick two spots or objects 15 to 20 feet from you that are at least six feet apart. Next, while focusing on the tip of your finger and pointing at spot No. 1, swing your arm/hand/finger (like a shotgun barrel) as rapidly as possible to the second spot. If you are focused on the tip of your finger, you will swing past the second spot and then have to come back to it.

Next, change the point of focus and do the same thing, but this time focus on the first spot and then shift your eyes to the second spot and let your finger follow your eyes. You will be much more in control when you’re focusing on the distant spots. Repeat the exercise, starting out again focused on the end of your finger, then do it focused on the distant object. When you have done this, stop and think about how things looked as you were swinging from the first spot to the second. When you were focused on the end of your finger, the whole picture was a blur and in rapid motion. It felt fast and out of control. In the second, when you focused first on spot No. 1 and then the second, the picture stayed calm. You can remember seeing everything as you went by; additionally, it felt slower and more in control.

One important point to remember is that when you focus on the end of your finger (which is the equivalent of the bead), you invariably swing past the target object with little or no control. Focusing on the bead is one of the reasons you see shooters stop the gun—they swing past the target then stop and wait for the target to catch up. (This is contrary to common “wisdom” that they never got to the target since the gun stopped.) Since the gun is stopped, everything is less precise and less controlled. And if you hit the target, it is luck.

 

 

 

Analyzing changes and for how long

Trapshooters are always changing “things” in their quest for the extra target, and since none of us ever misses a target due to any mistake on our part—coupled with the fact that in order to get better, one must do some experimentation with either shooting mechanics or gun setup—this leads us to analyzing changes. If you are experimenting or testing stuff, you need to know how to judge it and for how long to continue the test. In many respects, knowing how long to continue a test can be more important than the test itself. In addition, it might be prudent to know when to put something new to the test as opposed to writing it off to a bad day.

The following story illustrates this last point. I went to the Old Pharts Gun & Bad Advice Club to give Zeke Jr. private lessons. At the end of two days of one-on-one, Junior was shooting significantly better even though some of the things he was now doing—and especially the way his gun was now set—were diametrically opposed to the way his local self-appointed D/20-yard/D All-American coaches (AACs) had recommended and espoused as being absolutely perfect. In fact, they were quite perturbed that I had the audacity to change anything on Junior’s gun (Junior was at 20-21 yards and averaging about 92 in the singles, but nothing needed to be changed, especially not by some prima donna from out of town).

After the lessons Junior went to the Grand, had a great time, had a great shoot, and shot some great scores, winning junior champion in one of the handicaps during Grand Week. He came home with two trophies and never had a handicap score below 93 or a singles score below 95 the entire time. During the Grand and a couple of shoots right after, he got two or 2 1/2 yards.

Then he went to the biggest shoot in the area, and after being on the biggest streak in his life, broke a blazing 82 in the main handicap. So what happens now?

The AACs said that they had been trying to tell Junior all along that his gun was not “right”—the meltdown in the big handicap finally proved that his gun needed to be set back to where it had been originally. The specific point of contention was how high his comb was set. (Bob would say to me, “That figures—you have never seen a comb you would not raise.”) So the AACs took 4 1/16˝ worth of spacers out of the comb. As it had been set, the gun was shooting only about 75/25 (which is not all that high for a fast shot), so taking the spacers out brought it down to 50/50 (which is too low for 99.9999% of trapshooters).

Junior then went into a mega slump that lasted through the fall into the spring and continued until the Wyoming State Shoot the next July. There his father approached me and asked if I could watch Junior shooting. The first thing I did was have him mount the gun so I could check how well he was looking down it. His comb was so low that I could not see the pupil of his eye over the rib. When asked why the comb was so low, he told me the above story.

The reasons for retelling the story: First, it is a great example of a shooter having one bad day and blaming the gun. (Side point: this shooter was now on the 23-yard line, which is where many shooters have trouble with their handicap yardage for the first time, as has been covered in previous articles). Next, the gun was changed back to the way it was when he wasn’t shooting well and completely away from what had been working, therefore causing a deep, deep slump. Third, it illustrates waiting too long before changing something back to original when something is obviously not working. Fourth, it is a great example of “friends” having ulterior motives that may or may not include having you break as many targets as you are capable of breaking.

In this case, the AACs were mad because I was on their turf and it was more important to them to prove that I wasn’t needed and that they were right than it was for Junior to shoot well. They were so wrapped up in preconceived notions that they probably had no idea what they had actually done to Junior. Also, they were exhibiting another normal human nature trait: get everyone to do it the way you do, and that makes you “right.” If you are “right,” you do not have to change, and changing is deathly traumatic to a lot of people.

The problem with this situation is you have a young shooter being pressured by the “elders.” Sometimes such pressure is so great that you have to yield to it and shoot worse because the pain of shooting bad isn’t as bad as the pain and the pressure experienced when shooting well.

Enough of the story telling and back to the article. I am going to generally group changes into a couple or three categories. The most major change is changing the entire gun, which has been discussed in a previous article and is beyond the scope of the topic at hand. The next category of change would be something moderate, such as switching stocks on the current gun. The third category would include less major but very significant things such as raising/lowering/shifting the comb, adding a barrel weight or weight/reducer to the buttstock, changing the stock length, changing styles of recoil pad, raising/lowering/twisting the adjustable buttplate, adding/removing a barrel blinder, or even changing the color of the front bead. While these are the most common and easily accomplished changes, such “small” changes can still have a larger impact on performance than many shooters would expect or believe. Never underestimate the impact of even a small change, and always remember, it if makes more smoke or feels better, it is better.

One time I had a student call me up because his doubles had dropped from a 90-to-91 average down to the 70s. I asked him what he had changed, and the answer was “nothing.” After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out what to try, it turned out that he had taken two 1/16˝ spacers out of the comb on his doubles gun. Why had he done that, when he was shooting doubles better than he had ever in his life? Because his AACs had determined his gun was shooting too high and he needed to drop his comb to completely flat. Putting these spacers back in his comb was worth about 15 targets on his doubles average. (Normally, this change would not make that much difference, but his gun was probably too low-shooting to start with, and making it lower put him over the edge.)

One comment before we move on to testing changes: Change only one thing at a time! If you adjust four things and go blind, then you will not know what change it was that made things worse.

Switching stocks is a major event, but unlike switching guns is one that is easy to let go too long (because it goes on ole Betsy) before fine-tuning. If you have 500 to 1,000 rounds through a new stock and are not sure that it is significantly better, then you need to start looking at things to try. Always start with what is different from the old one to get ideas of where to start. This comment applies to most changes: if you have 1,000 rounds through your gun after a change and you are shooting it worse, then the change you made was not a good one, and the odds of it getting better after this point are about 95-to-1 against it.

The next group is easier to deal with. Most of these changes can be determined almost instantly—or at least within the first 100 to 200 shots. If it is worse after a change with anything in this group after 200 shots, then it is worse—period—and you need to go back to where you started. One side note here: Some shooters are so used to seeing a certain sight picture that when they change the comb height, they will push/raise their heads trying to get the view to be the same as it was before. If you do this, you are fighting the change, and you will not be able to accurately judge whether it is better or not.

The good thing about changing things in this group is that you can experiment quickly and easily and not have long-lasting negative effects if the change was not better. For example, let us assume that your gun’s POI is set perfectly, and you decide to test a little higher-shooting gun, so you raise the comb. Normally I suggest moving the comb up/down no more than 1/16˝ at a time. But for this example, let us assume that you raised the comb 3/8˝. This much of a move will make you “go blind” on the line. If you went out and shot the gun that way for 50 or even 100 rounds, shooting horribly, and then you put it back to where it was originally, you will go back to normal after just a few shots (probably less than 25). Most importantly, there will be no long-lasting negative effect from the experiment.

There is another group of things that are not on the gun that can have a significant impact. Some of these are new glasses/prescription, changing lens color or polarization, changing lens light transmission (i.e., lighter/darker), gaining/losing weight, changing to contacts from prescription lenses, adding more or less tape/dot (one-eye shooters), using headphones while shooting, etc.

This last group is interesting in that shooters change these all the time and never think about that being the cause of their shooting getting either better or worse. One example is prescription lenses. If you get a new prescription that is significantly stronger than the old one, you may have to change the comb on your stock. The same goes for going from lenses to contacts. The reason for this is refraction of light. As you add strength to the lenses, you might have to raise the comb. If reducing strength or going to contacts, you might have to lower the comb.

In closing, remember, if you are not getting better, you are getting worse. Therefore, it is prudent to do some experimentation; just don’t try it for the first time at the state championships or the Grand unless there is a very compelling reason to do so.

In addition, in case you did not notice, I never said “right” or “wrong” when talking about changes; it was always “better” or “worse”—and for a reason. Your brain rebels against you when you tell it that it is wrong, so you should stay away from that connotation. You are judging all changes based on how you shoot after the change, and it is just different—not right or wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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01/17/12
Staying in the present

By Phil Kiner

 

 

It has been a great day. The targets are big pumpkins hanging on a string, and you've been turning them into nothin' but smoke with regular precision. You're 60 or 70 some straight, it's your shot, and you are thinking, "All I have to do is break the last trap and I have the 100," when you hear the puller call "Lost."

 

 

Watching the last target fall lazily to earth untouched and totally intact, you think, "What a stupid X!?*&%#@ thing to do." After snapping back to reality, you center right back up, finish that trap, and then are halfway through the last trap with no further mistakes when you start thinking to yourself, "Dummy, if you had just paid attention on the last trap and broke that one target, you'd finally have the chance for a 100 today." As you think these thoughts, again you hear the puller call "Lost."

 

 

This is a specific example, but if you vary the scenario slightly, it probably sounds familiar. We have all had one of these experiences thinking about our score in the future or wondering what we did in the past, when we heard the puller call "Lost."

 

 

In general discussions, the conclusion is usually that trapshooting is more mental than physical. Yet how always to be mentally prepared has to be one of the more elusive trapshooting "secrets." There are too many "mental game" areas to cover in one article, so I will focus on one which may be a little different than general concentration discussion. (I would like to add that if I knew the secret to being properly prepared every time I fire a shot, I would probably be bottling and selling it to other pro sports for big bucks.)

 

 

My assumption: concentration is not a thing you do but, rather, is a result of other things you have done or are doing. Therefore you should always remember what you did or were doing when you were concentrating properly and, consequently, shot well. There are thousands of mental traps and tricks, but one I will talk about and one that can work consistently is what I call "staying in the present." In the earlier illustration, a loss occurred both when we were in the future and again when we were in the past. You cannot change the past, and the only way you can affect the future in the manner you wish is to stay in the present and focus on the project at hand-which is to break this target.

 

 

Concentration is not a thing you do but, rather, is a result of other things you have done or are doing.

 

 

Your mind does not like pressure, and when you shoot a trap event, you're doing exactly that: exerting tremendous additional pressure. Your mind is constantly trying to reduce pressure because it does not want this pressure to harm you. One way that pressure is reduced immediately is when you miss. The "pain" of a miss is immediately known, but the future is not. Your mind will bound from the past to the future in an attempt to distract you from breaking this target. Anytime you are thinking about what happened with the last trap, the last target, yesterday at work, etc., or when you're wondering if you can break this 100 or run this trap or win this shootoff, you are either in the past or the future at the moment you're calling "Pull." If you are not in the present when you call for the target, there is a good chance that you will miss this target. If this happens, you have been tricked by your mind into missing the target to reduce the pressure.

 

 

I will take a little detour and discuss knowing "where you are" in the event as it relates to being in the future and being able to stay in the present. And by knowing where you are, I mean if you are 24, 50, 75, 98, 175 straight or whatever the case may be and you are conscious of just how many you've hit and thus how many you have left. I have heard for years that when you're shooting well, you should not know where you are in an event until it's over. I maintain that this is pure rubbish.

 

 

It doesn't matter how many 100s, 200s or 25s you have broken in your lifetime, anytime you're straight or shooting well, you know it. You know exactly how many straight or how many down you are at that particular moment.

 

 

The human mind is one of the best computers in the world, and it is always computing. Instead of wasting valuable mental energy trying not to know where you are in the event, use that energy to stay in the present and break this target. The only way you break a 100 or a 25 is to break this target. If you don't break this target, you cannot break the 100. Rather than trying not to know where you are currently, you are better off acknowledging the fact-"Yeah, this is where I'm at, but it's no big deal."

 

 

When you are shooting well, accept and acknowledge the fact and then focus your energy to staying in the present and break this next target by watching it. When you do this, you're not as aware of where you are and will worry about the future less. The same theory applies when you have just missed. If you say, "I've got to break the rest for a 99," it will be more difficult to finish well. When I advise you to stay in the present, I'm not suggesting that you go into "La La Land" or the Twilight Zone for the entire duration of the event. That requires an extreme amount of mental energy. You are better off properly using a few seconds per shot and thus expending overall, only a few minutes of concentrated mental energy per event.

 

 

You cannot change the past, and the only way you can affect the future in the manner you wish is to stay in the present and focus on the project at hand which is to break this target.

 

 

For example, six seconds times 100 shots divided by 60 seconds per minute equals 10 minutes of total concentration time. By being selective rather than trying to "concentrate hard" the entire 45 to 75 minutes per 100, you will save six hours of prime concentration during a 1,000-target tournament. To do this, be aware of what is occurring, then when it is your shot, make sure that you are focusing on seeing and breaking the target. When thoughts pop into your head about work, previous hits or misses or the future score or whatever the different thoughts may be, stop, recycle yourself, get back into the present, and you will enjoy the future more.

 

 

As a P.S. to this article, one exercise that can help you stay in the present is visualization. There are many good books written on the subject. I recommend going to the library or your favorite bookstore and acquiring one. A book will go into much more depth than I can in this short article. This should assist you in the "how to" area.

 

 

I will give a short "quick and dirty" here.

 

 

Two ways that you can visualize:

 

 

1) During the event, before it's your time to shoot, by mentally seeing a target appear and seeing it break. This is a good time to mentally break a target that has been a problem for you lately.

 

 

2) When you are not shooting, you can visualize breaking 100 or 200 straight or whatever your particular goal happens to be. When you visualize breaking 100, you need to do it exactly like a real event. Start on your usual post and see each target appear and break exactly as it appears to you when you shoot it correctly. When you finish the five on the first post, switch stations and continue seeing each target until you finish the first trap. Change traps and continue in this fashion until you complete the 100 targets one at a time.

 

 

Once you have visualized yourself breaking 100 straight, your mind does not know the difference between that mental exercise and the actual, real-life occurrence. By visually breaking 100 straight one target at a time, you program yourself to accept the fact mentally. Then when you have the good score going, your mind is not as afraid of the future and will be more inclined to let you stay in the present-and be successful.

 

 

I hope this helps someone. Good luck and good shooting.

 

 

 

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December 2, 2011

Phil Kiner weighs in on Lee Ann Martin’s $200,000 Lewis Challenge at the 2011 Grand American. Thanks to Bill and Lee Ann for all you do for the sport.

Lee Ann’s Lewis

There was a lot of discussion going into this year’s Grand about whether Lee Ann Martin’s Lewis (LAL) would have any significant impact on attendance and then whether it would be worth it for the “regular guy” or would just be another way to “line the ‘big dogs’ pockets.”

First let’s talk about whether there was any impact on Grand participation. The last Grand at Vandalia was 2005, and although the total number of shooters then was higher than this year’s total, it was because of the last three handicaps. Grand Week’s total entries decreased over the next three years then gained some in 2009 and ’10. This year total entries during Grand Week increased slightly over 19%. (When figuring that 19%, I excluded any events that were not part of the 1,000-target High-Over-All.) The accompanying tables show there is no doubt that this year’s LAL had an impact on the Grand. You can play with the individual events and try slicing and dicing the numbers in different ways, but long story short, this year’s Grand was definitely up. Given the state of the economy and the fact that most shoots are still down, the only logical conclusion is that the LAL did in fact generate interest that translated to action on the part of trapshooters.

Now for the payoffs. The daily Lewis had 37 shooters that received over $400 at one pay in one event. (I picked $400 as an example because this was double the $200 entry fee for the whole week.) Additionally, there were another 160 shooters who received between $200 and $400 in one event.

In the HOA, the top three payments were amounts that are unheard of in this day and age. For someone to win $26,000+ in the HOA is simply amazing. No doubt the top three made out like gangbusters, but what about the rest? A total of 194 shooters received checks, and every one of them made more than their $200 entry fee. Fifteen shooters (including the top three) received checks for $3,000 or more. Sixty-eight shooters received HOA checks for more than $1,000 and less than $3,000.

Was this experiment a success? I think without a doubt it was successful from the ATA’s point of view (participation increased), and it was successful from the shooters’ point of view (we got the opportunity to shoot at some really big prize money, and so many people actually received decent checks).

The good news is that it is going to occur next year, and in closing, I would like to say thanks, Lee Ann (oh, and you too, Bill).

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If you are ever in Plymouth, Mass., be sure to take check out The Plymouth House of Pizza (www.plymouthpizza.com). It is a great little restaurant that also delivers. In addition to pizza, they have a full Italian menu. Trapshooter Jacob Pappas is the owner, and not only does he serve great food, but he is also a great guy.

Those who have questions about shooting technique or equipment for Phil Kiner, please direct them as follows:

c/o Trap & Field

1100 Waterway Blvd.

Indianapolis, IN 46202

fax 317-633-2084

e-mail editorial@trapandfield.com

Please include your name, phone number and/or e-mail address.

 

 

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June 14, 2010

I want to say thanks again to everyone at Vernal: Bill and Lee Ann Martin, Pete and Lori Martin, Craig and Sharon Hart, Sean and Stacy Hawley and all the others who worked hard to put this together. The hospitality at the Vernal Rod & Gun Club has been fantastic.  I’m sure all who attended had a great time. Here are a few photos I took.

On Saturday the temperature dropped to 40 and rain was steady, but, hey, weather is a part of the trapshooting game. In the handicap Jimmy Heller and Joe Sudbury broke 99s.  Ray Stafford won the final handicap with 99. Leo won the all-around and HOA.  The shoot was great, the food was delicious. Thanks, Vernal!  Now it’s time for me to go back to the phone booth and change out of my trapshooting suit and back to that of economist.

Remember to look for my July column in Trap & Field, your official trapshooting magazine of the ATA. It’s a game plan to compete in the $100,000 Grand American Challenge.  You won’t want to miss that. See you at the Grand!

Phil Kiner


+Enjoy at Vernal
 
Hospitality Plus

Windy, but the shoot must go on 
 
Rain on Saturday

 

 

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June 11, 2010

  

I’m here at Vernal R&GC in Utah. It’s one of the best shoots in the country. The hospitality is unsurpassed thanks to Pete and Lee Ann Martin, Sean and Stacy Hawley and all the others who work hard to put this together.  The food has been great. Check out Elissa’s blog (http://www.trapandfield.com/elissa'snotebook.html) for more of what’s going on here.

We’ve had 10 Miss and Out games so far, and Stu Welton has won 5 of them! Let me tell you, he’s back on his saddle with his Krieghoff—and he is lighting them up. On top of those wins, he broke 100 in yesterday’s handicap as well. Maybe we’ll call this “The Stu Welton Benefit Shoot.” It’s just trapshooting humor. There’s a lot of fun going on here.

Look for my July column in Trap & Field, your official trapshooting magazine of the ATA. I give you a game plan to compete in the $100,000 Grand American Challenge.  You won’t want to miss that. Gotta go, I’m on deck.  See you at the Grand.

Phil Kiner

 

 

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February 26, 2010

  

Hi, everyone,

There was a great response to get in the drawing for the free Trapshooting DVDs for Kids. The DVDs have been mailed out. There were more than 50 requests. Listed below are the winners. I’m glad to see the interest in AIM and ATA shooting. Good luck, teams!
 

Williams County Gun Club AIM team
Montpelior, Ohio
Coach Joe Nester


Howell Gun Club Coach
Howell, Mich.
Coach Mike Wilson
 

Scobey Haymakers
Scobey, Mont. 59263
Coach Richard Hawbaker
 

Brushcreek Crushers
Butlerville, Ind.
Coaches Mike Cumberworth and Jeff Cumberworth

 

Alexandria Youth Trap League
Alexandria, Minn.
Coach David Gebhardt

 

Orleans Clay Crushers
Barre Sportsmen’s Club
Barre, Mass.
Head Coach Christopher Rice

 

Bobwhite Club and Kenton Co. G&F
Alexandria, Ky.
Head Coach and Ky State Director Dennis Menning
Asst. Coach Tim Felty

 

Missouri Dept. of Conservation, Jay Henges Shooting Range
High Ridge, Mo.
Coach Jan G. Morris

 

5 Rivers Trap Club
Five Rivers, Ark.
Coaches Tony and Rebecca Brown

 

St. Joseph County Straight Shooters AIM
St. Joseph County Conservation & Sportsman Club
Sturgis, Mich.

Coach Leslie J. York

 

 

Spartans I II & III

St. Charles Sportsmen's Club Illinois
Coach William L. Hardt

 

 

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February 3, 2010  

 

 

10 Free Trapshooting DVDs for Kids

 

On February 19, I will randomly select 10 ATA AIM program teams to receive my DVD.

 

All you have to do is have your coach send his or her name, the name of your team, and the name of your school or club via e-mail to me at pkiner@philkiner.com, with the promise that the DVD will be shared with the team.

 

Also include a mailing address.

 

 

 

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January 11, 2010  

Not sure if you caught my column in Trap & Field’s December issue, but I wanted to post it as a blog also and pay tribute to Sandy Tidwell and her contribution to our sport. I think you’ll enjoy this.

An amazing 30 years promoting our sport

This month’s article will vary slightly from the norm and recognize Sandy Tidwell. Sandy just celebrated her 30th anniversary with Trap & Field, and both Editor-in-Chief Terry Heeg and I felt this milestone needed recognition.

Think about this: 30 years covering and writing about this great sport, and she has never shot a round of competition (although she tells me that when she was new at the magazine, she shot some targets from a hand trap with her dad’s field gun, and later she broke a few practice-trap targets during some downtime at the Western Grand). This just goes to show that much like spouses and moms/dads that follow their special shooter down the line, you don’t have to be a shooter to understand and love the sport. But it also takes a special person to do what she has done: spend her entire working life covering and writing about trapshooting.

I first got to know Sandy via Joan Davis, when Joan was senior editor and Sandy was “Joan in training.” They were both at the Grand, and I was a younger upstart shooter who got ink only about once a year or so. For me when Joan introduced me to Sandy, it felt like we were friends immediately and that I had known her forever. Since then Sandy covered several of the major shoots that I attended, and with Sandy being the one that has edited my column for almost 15 years, I have come to know her even better. Right now not only is Sandy a walking encyclopedia of modern trapshooting history, she understands and loves the game as much as any of us real shooters.

I asked Sandy to put some stuff together and also gave her some questions that I thought would be of interest, and the following is in her words.

*    *    *
From the time I’ve been able to be, I’ve always been an avid reader. I don’t recall generating much writing of my own, except maybe letters to friends and family, until high school. I enjoyed going over my school papers, then written on notebook paper double-spaced, and looking to make changes where I hadn’t used quite the best word or had written the same word twice in close proximity. Even then, I was more an editor than a writer, I guess—and perhaps in early training for T&F (trophy, award, prize; honors, laurels, recognition; lead, pace, top; win, earn, capture, land, net, collect, etc.)

In 1974 I started working on my journalism degree at Indiana University (alma mater of WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle, for whom the J-school building is named). The program was bursting at the seams because, in addition to students like me who would have been drawn to it anyway, there were the would-be crusaders attracted to the industry because of the government news scandals of the era, Watergate mainly. The field had grown and had plenty of entry-level opportunities for the class ahead of me; a year later, I was one of many struggling to find a job in the area I’d studied. For a little over a year I worked a number of service/retail jobs before I found my place at T&F in August 1979. The magazine’s staff writers, two brothers who were going to go into business together, left at the same time, and I and another recent college graduate were hired. The masthead didn’t reflect this until several months later; in those days, all type was sent out to be set and pages were artboards created from the typeset copy printed out on glossy paper and pasted up in the design provided by the layout artist at T&F. Any standing heading was just used over and over, and the editors wouldn’t pay to change the staff list type until someone had demonstrated that they would stay awhile.

While “staff writer” was my original title, “editorial assistant” would have been more descriptive. Mostly I input Gun Club Scores listings, did proofreading and some copyediting, cropped photos, and kept logs of copy and photos to and from the typesetter and engraver. All copy was generated on typewriters and then proofread and fact-checked before it was sent to the typesetter, who then rekeyed all the copy and returned it to be proofread. Again!

While to us now, this may sound like the Stone Age, at least our typewriters were electric, and most did have the numeral “1” on them—Joan Davis’ machine being one of the exceptions. Later, even after years of using computer keyboards, Joan would still occasionally, unconsciously type a lowercase letter “l” instead of a numeral “1.” I was somewhat used to the number 1 being on the top line because, while the old manual I taught myself to type on didn’t have a number 1, the manual Smith-Corona I lugged to college was one of the newfangled machines with the number 1 and an exclamation point on it. Such progress!

T&F moved into the computer age in the ’80s, when we were all assigned to terminals on the company’s mainframe. Now we were setting our own type and also imbedding codes in it so that it would come back from the typesetter formatted to look like text in T&F should look. Later the physical pasteup was brought in house, complete with light table, waxer and T-square. We followed the trend to individual PCs, changed over to Macs for a while, then returned for the most part to PCs (networked). Pagemaking is now all done on the computer. No need to check to see if things are straight . . . I thought, until I saw a slanting line rule come through on a page the other day. Our art director said it was a quirk in the latest version of the software. I guess no matter how sophisticated and helpful our programs become, we humans still need to stare at the results to make sure everything’s as it should be.

 

When did you decide to stay at T&F?

Probably when I first started feeling vested in the magazine and valued on that “next level.” This would have been in the early to mid 1980s, after a new editor was hired. Betty Ann Foxworthy was retiring—she had been in semi-retirement at the time I was hired, and she had returned as editor and publisher in 1981—and her administrative assistant was leaving to start a family. In late 1983, Bonnie Nash joined T&F as editor. Bonnie was experienced in the magazine business but unfamiliar with trapshooting and how to write about it. I should say here that that has been the norm for all of us writers and editorial staff in the “modern era” at the magazine. It is a well-established tradition at T&F for the ones who have learned about the sport—how it’s shot, how awards are given, how to cover a shoot, and how to translate it all into print—to handle the task of passing on the knowledge to the new writers and editorial staff, who mostly have a background in some communications field—journalism, English, etc. I guess the reasoning behind this approach is that as long as the basic skills of writing, observing and reporting are there, the specific knowledge needed to write about the sport can be taught and learned. I think this approach has served the magazine and our readers well over the years. Our jobs and T&F’s mission have always been to promote the sport, write about shooters, and report trapshooting news, not to be a part of the news ourselves. [Sandy was reluctant to be the subject of this column—you could say she kicked and screamed some along the way—but the Editor-in-Chief insisted.—Ed.]

I was hired a couple weeks after the 1979 Grand American, and on the cover of the first magazine I worked on was that year’s Grand American Handicap champion, Dean Shanahan, sitting with his gun on the Jeep he won. The story read, “Yes, he can drive”—Dean was 16—and I got my first lesson in trapshooting perspective: on any given day, a shooter of any age could be the top dog. But most of the time, the winners were going to be male shooters older than juniors and younger than veterans.

Joan Davis, associate editor when I came on board (she had a degree in education), gave me a thorough schooling in the basics particular to T&F as well as much of the practical knowledge I have about how a magazine is put together. Betty Ann, a brilliant person and strong force at the helm for many years, added much seasoning and perspective, which of course I also gained from just doing and observing and forging my own path and making mistakes and doing some more. Over the years I’ve been involved in a lot of training as well, and I’ve tried to be faithful in passing along what I have been given and learned.

 

What are the great things about the job? What do you hate?

I’ve always liked that, as part of a small staff, there is a chance to do a lot of different tasks and have a hand in most everything that goes on. There is an up-close, personal sense of accomplishment from seeing each issue from beginning to end. I think that each month there are probably many readers who share in that. By its nature, the ATA’s official magazine covering the entire registered trapshooting community, T&F has always relied on shoot reporters and other contributors to bring in the news from all over. The closeness and friendliness of the trap world is a huge plus.

What I hate is the lack of time to devote to some of the aspects of the job which are important but often have to be put on the back burner just so the magazine can get out on time. Right now, as a result of the economic downturn, we are operating with the smallest editorial/writing staff we’ve had in all the time I’ve been here. The workload hasn’t lessened; if anything, it’s increased, although various means of doing the work have improved efficiency. We’re constantly looking for ways to do a better job with less, and that gets old sometimes.

 

I still remember when you came to Gillette, Wyoming, and everyone was tickled you were there.

Funny you should bring that up; that remains one of my favorite trips for the magazine. The weather was so mild for July (except for those 70-mph winds that one day—ha!), and in my downtime I got to see a little scenery. I was raised watching Western films and enjoyed my first peek at the Bighorn Mountains as well as Devil’s Tower.

I think the 1986 Wyoming State Shoot was about the third one I covered completely on my own. The 1985 Midwestern Grand (El Reno, Okla.) was my first airplane trip anywhere, and I remember being surprised that Western garb was everyday attire for quite a few. Back then airfare was pretty reasonable, there were fewer major tournaments (there were only three Satellite Grands in existence at that time, although three more would be added before the decade was out), and Bonnie spearheaded our effort to get around to some varied venues. Since then I’ve been to Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas and New Jersey state shoots; the Great Lakes, Northeastern, Western (in Salt Lake City, Utah) and Dixie (in Savannah, Ga.) Grand Americans several times; the first Autumn Grand in Tucson; and the Golden West Grand in Reno, as well as the Grand American most years.

The gun club in Fortville, Ind., has been a training ground for new T&F staffers over the years, and I was one of those. My first in-person look at trapshooting was at the 1980 Indiana State Shoot, and I was generously granted a shared byline for the article. I wrote three paragraphs of it. (Back then the articles were a lot longer. T&F had just started using “trophy lists” to tell some of the story.) It was fun to see some of the faces whose names I’d been typing and whose photos I’d been cropping for months. It was almost like celebrity-spotting! One of the fun things about being on the T&F staff is surprising shooters you haven’t met before by greeting them by name.

Two years later I got a solo byline for the Indiana state shoot story (although I’m sure Joanie was there to help and to visit with her many friends), but I didn’t remember that without looking back at the printed report. What I do remember about that shoot was the all-ATA singles squad record of 998 being tied, and in dramatic fashion. Frank Little, Brad Dysinger, Joe Powell, Bob Little and John Moster broke 500x500 in the morning half of the Singles Championship, and they were down two out of 975 when Brad’s gun broke. The rest of the squad finished without a miss, but Brad had to complete the event on the practice trap in front of a crowd. He ran them and received many, many expressions of congratulations—including a big kiss on the cheek from Frank. That last bit was in my original story but was removed by one of the editors, who must have thought this was unseemly—or maybe that T&F writing about it was. It’s true that the tone of speech or action doesn’t always translate when rendered in print, and this is something we all try to keep in mind, although I’m sure we don’t always accomplish that goal 100%.

But other than the Grand American, the shoot I went to most often has to be the Midwestern Grand. (This one moved to San Antonio in 1998 and was renamed the Southwestern Grand the following year.) I was there 11 times between 1985 and 1997. One notable exception was the 1995 tournament, which took place right after the bombing of the Murrah building in downtown Oklahoma City (I’d always stayed on the western edge of the city for the shoot). For some reason, Bonnie decided she would go to El Reno that year. It was an exceptionally tough one for weather reasons as well, and as I recall, good ol’ Oklahoma native son Phil Kiner won the singles, doubles and all-around in the cold and wind.

The travel and opportunities to meet shooters from all over and see the country have been some of the greatest gifts I’ve received while I’ve been with T&F.

 

What are your thoughts about the magazine today and into the future?

As I see it, the magazine is an unusual blend of past, present and future. In our role as ATA official magazine, much of our space has always been devoted to a chronicle of what the ATA’s shooters are doing and accomplishing while they are enjoying this sport. Who are they? What scores are they breaking? What are they winning? What records are they setting? That’s all basic. It’s what we’ve been in the past, back into the decades of Sportsmen’s Review, which was established in 1890. I hope this will always be our core identity.

Each of the editors I’ve worked for has brought various additions and improvements to the table, but I think Terry Heeg takes the trophy for the most innovative and well-rounded approach. Her business experience is extensive and varied, and she has a knack for both searching out talent and encouraging and allowing her staff’s talents to flourish. She’s an insightful interviewer and gifted editor as well. On her watch, T&F has retained its solid news-and-scores focus while branching out with more feature material, columnists, guest writers, colorful layouts, etc. We’ve definitely had a chance to have fun with the magazine in recent years, thanks to her.

Some of what we’ve been doing is just good business and probably is at least partially in response to exponential changes within the communications industry. These days the print media are challenged, to say the least. It seems that “niche publications” may have a better chance of survival than more general-interest ones. I hope that there will continue to be a demand for our specialized magazine’s material, both in print and on our website.

*    *    *

Terry Heeg added this: “One of many talents Sandy has is that of the greatest editing. She is one of the best fact-checkers, and if there is a typo in T&F, it’s likely Sandy didn’t see that page. About three years ago, when the ATA started their special recognition awards, the ‘Sidelines’ award was created and given to Sandy. Sometimes her summaries of shoots and records over the years have been signed ‘Sidelines Sandy’ (as she does not shoot, but is always on the sidelines), and her blog on the T&F website is From the Sidelines. She was very surprised as we kept it a secret until the announcement at the Grand. Sandy was handed an engraved tray. When she walked back and sat down beside me and looked at the award, she turned to me and said, ‘You should have let me proofread this award also.’ (She had proofed the text for all the other special recognition awards for the ATA.) Her tray read: “Sidlines Award.” We both sat in the bleachers and couldn’t stop laughing. I think the typo made it mean even more to Sandy. She is so key to our operation.”

In conclusion, Sandy is one of those that many people may never realize what she means to the sport, but those of us who are involved with this part of the game understand just what she means to it. Thanks, Sandy—we luv ya, and we hope T&F will be around for another century plus!

*    *    *

For the food feature spot, Sandy told me, “I don’t cook very often for pitch-ins, but I am semi-known locally for my homemade snack mix. The tricks are Crispix cereal, corn oil, dry-roasted nuts, and never measuring the seasonings.”

 

Those who have questions about shooting technique or equipment for Phil Kiner, please direct them as follows:

c/o Trap & Field
1100 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax 317-633-2084
e-mail editorial@trapandfield.com
Please include your name, phone number and/or e-mail address.

 

A word from Dieter
A word from Dieter

As the temperature hovers around Zero Degrees here in Ottsville, we find it difficult to imagine that the shoot season will soon be in full swing. But as we know, the Dixie Grand signals the beginning of another trap season as our shooters head out on the circuit.  We hear the brisk weather has greeted shooters in Florida and send our warm wishes to all for a good shoot!

Congratulations to the 2009 ATA All-American Team!!  We proudly congratulate K-80 Shooters Harlan Campbell, Jr. – Five Time Men’s Team Captain, Kay Ohye Veteran Team Captain and Debbie Ohye-Neilson who continues her reign as Lady Team Captain!!  Krieghoff wishes all shooters the best of luck in their All-American quest as the New Year begins.

For those of you who like to vary your sport, Krieghoff offers a full line of competition shotguns and hunting firearms to suit your individual style.

The success of the K-80 Trap Special, including the new Pro Rib model, has inspired Krieghoff to introduce the K-80 Pro Sporter for Sporting Clays and Skeet shooters.  Designed with a higher rib and coordinating stock, the K-80 Pro Sporter offers shooters a wider field of vision for quicker target acquisition.  The “head up” design reduces perceived recoil and helps lessen fatigue.  The Pro Sporter can be configured with 30” or 32” inch choke tube barrels and the choice of #3 Sporting adjustable or #6 Monte Carlo adjustable stocks.  The Pro Sporter’s point-of-impact can be adjusted to 50/50 or 60/40 through interchangeable adjustment wedges which fit under the barrel rib.   

For the hunter, Krieghoff has designed a revolutionary new In-line Repeating rifle. The Krieghoff Semprio’s precision engineering and design allow for quick caliber changes in a few simple movements.  The ergonomic design incorporates kinetics to dissipate recoil and keeps the Semprio firmly seated against your shoulder throughout the firing sequence.  Already well received in Europe, the Semprio will be available in the United States later this year.

To paraphrase a popular saying, when something new comes in, it generally means something old goes out.  After enjoying over a decade of success as a Trap Handicap and Singles competitor, the Krieghoff KX-5 program has reached its maturity and production will come to an end later this year.  Now is the perfect time to add this single barrel – dedicated competition shotgun to your collection with the assurance service will continue to be available for the KX-5.

Krieghoff’s new Certified Pre-Owned Firearm Program has received great interest since being announced.  Shooters are realizing the great value of purchasing a pre-owned Krieghoff backed by a One Year Limited Warranty.  Contact your dealer today to find out more about this new program.

The Grand American seems so far away to us on this chilly day, but before long we will see you once again in Sparta for another memorable event.  Until then, keep an eye on our website for the latest Krieghoff information and to follow our shooters success as they head out on the circuit. We wish all of you a successful 2009 full of good shooting!


Krieghoff Custom Stocks

The Perfect Finishing Touch

 

 


 

 
 

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September 22, 2009  

 

The following is the body of an email I received from Mrs. Carla Bloesl, a shooter needing assistance. After you read her letter stop, think about it, and see if you can guess what the cause of her flinching was.

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Dear Mr. Kiner,

 

I would like to ask your help with a problem I'm having with trapshooting.  I'm flinching.

 

I am a female, 57 years old, I have watched my husband and sons shoot trap for the past 12 years, and about four years ago I decided to give it a try.  Starting out I shot a BT99. I now shoot a Kolar.  The shells are 1 oz. or 1 1/8 oz.  I do not get any recoil.  When I first started shooting everything was fine.  I didn't know what a flinch was.  Then last year it started for me.  It wasn't too bad at the beginning of this year, but has gotten worse as the year goes on.  Yesterday I shot 200 targets and had about 15 flinches.  It isn't any fun.

 

I practice twice a week.  I've shot the Wisconsin state shoot and the Grand American the past two years.  I flinched my way through both of them.

 

Is target fear and flinching one and the same?  I know the target is going to come out, but sometimes I cannot pull the trigger.

 

I've made new friends trapshooting and I want to start shooting on a new league, but these people will not want to shoot with me if I'm always flinching.

 

The articles you've written in Trap &Field have been very beneficial.  The recent one, "Are you out-thinking" was an excellent one for me.  Your ability to explain the reasons things happen make a lot of sense.  Thank you for taking the time to write them.  We also have your video, Trapshooting Clinic, which I have been watching.

 

I'll try any suggestions you may have.  I think my scores could improve if I can stop flinching.

 

Respectfully,

 

Carla Bloesl

 

Now for the rest of the story:

I called Carla to ask questions and see if I could gather enough data to figure out some things for her to try. As we were talking and after having asked a lot of questions none of which gave me any “clues” as to what was causing the problem, I asked her if she was shooting with one or two eyes. Her answer: Well, two of course. That is what I was told to do by a many-time All American (man).  Point here is that us men do not really always understand women.

 

I suggested as a test that the next time she went to the gun club, try a test of one-eyed shooting.  For simplicity I had her just close her left eye instead of trying to get tape or dots placed correctly.  Carla called me after her trip to the gun club with these results.  She shot four rounds of 25 targets with two 20s and two 21s and ZERO flinches. Additionally, prior to the experiment her average per 25 was way below 20. Since then she has been to the club twice with scores of 22, 23, and 17 and 22, 23, and 24 on the second trip and still ZERO flinches.

At this point Carla is still wondering if the flinch will return (not me). She is also experimenting to see whether or not it works better for her to have the left lens taped or to close the left eye, and she is also working with her gun to make sure it is properly set up for her.  

I felt posting this might help other shooters figure out a problem sooner and easier than they would have normally. This is especially true since the form of the flinch had me fooled as it is the first time I have had a shooter that could not pull the trigger when they were cross-firing. A lot of shooters will have a front-hand flinch when they cross-fire and a release trigger will typically not cure this problem.

 

 

 

 

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June 18, 2009

Uintah Basin, Vernal, Utah: fun shoot or money shoot?

Actually, both.

This great shoot ended Sunday and culminated another successful, well run, well thought-out and well put-together program. This blog report is slightly different from what you would see in a typical shoot report. There were some great scores by some of the great names in trapshooting today, but these phenomenal performances would not have been possible without a lot of blood, sweat and tears from a lot of dedicated individuals.

Before getting into the shoot, it is necessary to understand the only way to start the day is with breakfast at Betty's Café in downtown Vernal. Betty's could not function without the capable hustle of Dave Everett and perky weekend warrior (if you have met her, you will understand) Gayle Foy.

The Uintah Basin Cartel—headed by Bill Martin, Craig Hart and Pete Martin plus their lovely wives Lee Ann, Sharon and Lorihave banded together a phenomenal amount of support from regional businesses and business people. This group provides the greatest support that you will see at any trapshoot/club anywhere in this country. Bill, Craig and Pete would be great consultants for ATA promotional activities.

The shoot started with fun events Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon sponsored by Bill and Lee Ann. For a nominal fee, shooters had the opportunity to compete for $25,000 spread over five miss-and-outs shot from the 27-yard line. The fifth and final event had a prize pool of $10,000 (paid four places). The opportunity to contend for such prize money is practically unheard of in this day and age. Additionally, the huge spectator crowd (who said shooting was not a spectator sport?) thoroughly enjoyed watching and rooting for their favorites. Steve Smith and Stu Welton were the last two fighting it out in the fifth and final championship round, which was shot on 75-yard wobble targets from the 27. Steve finally prevailed after both of them had made some phenomenal shots on unbelievably tough targets. Great performances turned in by a lot of top shots in these fun events.

The official shoot program started Thursday with the preliminary doubles, the championship doubles and 100 handicap targets. Friday was the first hundred of the 200-bird singles championship and 100 handicap targets. Saturday was the second hundred of the singles championship and the preliminary handicap. Sunday ended the shoot with the 100-target handicap championship.

Stu Welton, Joe Roach and Zack Nannini all broke 100 from the 27 to tie for the final handicap championship, and Stu won the shootoff. Zack is to be congratulated on his first 100 from the back fence and completing his Grand Slam. Joe is to be congratulated for still being able to see them that far at his age (that's a joke, Joe). BTW, after years as Utah ATA Delegate or alternate, Joe is retiring this year. Great job, Joe.

Check the Vernal website (scroll down to “31st Annual Uintah Basin”) as well as the upcoming August issue of TRAP & FIELD Magazine for the complete winners’ list.

Thursday night shooters were treated to a fantastic fresh Gulf Coast shrimp supper prepared by (Bubba Gump) Jim Pearson. After supper, shooters were entertained with the great music of The Western Underground (Chris LeDoux’s band). Friday night shooters enjoyed one of the best barbecued pork rib meals you will ever taste. Chief cook was Aaron Howard, assisted by wife Misty along with Tom and Deb Puckett and the rest of their friends and family. Entertainment this evening was opened by Asleep at the Wheel, followed by country star Pat Green. The performers were brought in compliments of Bill and Lee Ann Martin. Saturday night shooters and their families were again treated to a great supper, this time more 1 inch-thick ribeye steaks than you have ever seen all together in your life. The three cooks spearheading this effort were Larry Dotter, Mike Lewis and Trent Pope, assisted by hard-working wives Shawna Dotter and Sherry Lewis. Saturday evening saw a special event that exceeded 100K, and winners were drawn for the Bowen and the Infinity trap guns. Every evening shooters and their guests were treated to a complimentary bar stocked with nothing but  the best brands and served by some of Vernal's finest young ladies.

Percentagewise there were more women, both shooting and enjoying the country, than you will see at shoots many times larger. I suspect it is due to the amount of fun that this shoot is for the average Jane and Joe. Two of my friends from back East, Bill and Steve Ohrt, both said that this was as much fun as they had had in a long time, and next year they were coming back and bringing their wives (from Michigan and Florida) with them.

Sean and Stacy Hawley worked from daylight till dark making this shoot a success. Sean does a great job running a shoot (as long as he does what Stacy tells him J). Stacy manages the office and Sean keeps things on track all day, navigating from one end of the line to the other in his four-wheeler. Pete Martin keeps vigil outside the clubhouse and does whatever it takes to help Sean out. The great Vernal trap help are all well-trained and as good a bunch as you will find anywhere.

Long story short: shoots like this do not happen accidentally. They happen because a lot of dedicated people give 120% to the cause to make sure they happen. They are the true winners in this world.

 


There was $25,000 awarded over five fun miss-and-outs Tuesday and Wednesday, courtesy of Lee Ann and Bill Martin (third and second from right). Steve Smith (far right) won the last two, including the finale of 75-yard wobble targets from the 27.


In his four-wheeler, club manager Sean Hawley keeps things on track all day.


Carole (left) and Carl (right) Jackson are office help for ramrod Stacy Hawley.


Lee Ann Martin, Craig Hart, Lori Martin and Pete Martin.


The U-shaped trapline, not long after the rain quit on Friday.


Larry Dotter, Mike Lewis and Trent Pope, after cooking about a thousand ribeye steaks Saturday night.


Evening meal helpers Shawna Dotter and Sherry Lewis.


Entertainment ticket taker and “gate guard” Christy Young.


The club’s giant grill, donated by Craig Hart and built by Joe Sudbury.


Gayle Foy and Dave Everett of Betty’s Café in downtown Vernal, the only way to start your day when you’re at the shoot.


 

 
 

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May 29, 2009

Read “Debunking the myth of the shotstring” in the June issue of Trap & Field, in the mail now!
(please give the photos below time to load)


Photo 1: A target as it is just starting to break.


Photo 2: The same target, fully smoked. The shot is pretty well centered all around the target; you can also see It just past the target.


Photo 3: The shot just before it gets to the target.


Photo 4: The same target after it has been hit. The shot was low right, so the target pieces are moving up and mostly to the left.


Photo 5: View of a shot as seen when videotaping at a clinic.


Photo 6: Shot from a 1 1/8 oz., 8 shell, dumped on a white piece of paper and measured at approximately 20 inches. Logic tells us that this same amount of shot distributed over the mythical eight- to 12-foot shotstring would have virtually no breaking power.

 


 

 
 

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January 29, 2009

The world of trapshooting is simply amazing—the cross-section of people from all walks of life, and where else will you make so many friends who are actually willing to come to your aid when you need it?

One such example from my life involves friend, student, trapshooter, and great orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jim Rector, Colorado. As you may or may not be aware, I have had ankle and knee problems for the past 30+ years. In 1985 and 1986 my left ankle was fused then re-fused. As a result, the joint below the ankle joint (the subtalar) had degenerated. This is because this joint is now taking all the use and abuse that the ankle normally would. I was to the point of not being able to walk, even with a cane and my leg brace.

Now back to Dr. Jim. Other than pain pills, I was not able to get any medical help, and no one really wanted to deal with my situation in any but the most draconian of methods, so knowing that he is an orthopedic surgeon, I called him for advice. Dr. Jim specializes in things from the knee up, but one of his friends, Dr. Robert Leland, is a well known foot/ankle specialist. So after a referral and visit, Dr. Leland recommended to me a subtalar fusion with some foot realignment to correct some turning-under of the foot. This realignment consisted of (in my terms) sawing an outside foot bone in half, removing a wedge-shaped piece, and then twisting the foot and screwing the bone back together again. This process was then repeated on the inside long bone of my foot. Now my foot is flatter when on the floor and hopefully will help me walk better. My left foot now has two large screws and I think nine small screws and two alignment brackets which will remain there permanently.

I was originally going to wait until after this season for surgery, but a misstep off a curb with a resulting twist put everything in hurry-up mode. I had the surgery the first week of December and just got the news that I can start putting some weight on the left foot with both crutches and the walking boot cast on. On February 11 I can throw the crutches away, February 27 I get to discard the cast, and March 5 I am headed for Florida.

I am excited to try a season with no ankle pain, and Dr. Leland jokingly told me if I pick up any targets this season, I owe him a bottle of good red wine, I hope I have to buy him a case. I know this is kind of a bizarre post for my blog, but since it is what has occupied my mind for the past two months, I thought I might as well write about it.

Time to get to practicing for the upcoming season.

Photo 1 (the sideview): the two large screws (6mm thread, 4mm shaft) are the ones that hold the subtalar together. The realignment brackets are visible, but the scan lightened up enough that it did not show the bracket for the longer foot bone.

 

Photo 2 shows both realignment brackets. The bone on the left side was sawed in two, a wedge-shaped piece was completely removed so that the foot could be twisted back to straight, and then it was screwed back together in this position. The marrow from the removed piece of bone was spread on the fusion points of the joint to stimulate the bones (that were previously not grown together) into growing together. The bracket on the right side performed the same task as the one on the left. (In both photos there are some round spots visible. These are actually size 6 shot from a .410 shotgun. In 1963, when I was a freshman in high school, my younger brother had a problem with his single-shot hammer shotgun as he unloaded it, and the subsequent accidental discharge hit me in the left foot. We were at one of the neighbors' duck pond about a mile and half from home. The shot was left in as it would have caused more damage to try to dig it out than just to leave it. In all these years, there has never been a single pellet work its way out.)

 


 

 
 

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November 26, 2008

We are getting to that time of the year when the serious targets are either in the past or in the future, depending on your point of view. Last week we had the best weather in the history of winter turkey shoots in Cheyenne—65 degrees, blue skies, and absolutely dead calm. Here we get days with two out of three, but the dead calm is pretty rare anytime of year.

 

What was really neat about this shoot was the rookie class shooters who shot all day. One of the events that was fun was a backer-upper, where a rookie was paired with a “pro.” Unfortunately one of the rookies was paired with me, and we finished fifth out of five teams. Regardless, it was great to see a group of new shooters having a great time shooting targets.

 

Lately I have been going a few miles south of the border to Nunn, Colo. Nunn has a watertower with the slogan “Watch Nunn Grow” painted on it. Over the years the local kids have on a couple of occasions added weeds to the bottom line of the watertower title. I am sure the city fathers are not happy about it, but it probably kept the kids out of the bars while they were painting.

 

I’ve been traveling to Nunn to visit my good friend Jess Rodriguez’s place and shoot ZZs. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this game, ZZs or helice are the socially acceptable versions of target shooting closest to pigeon shooting but without the PETA problem. Jess has set up his ZZ range to try to build a group of ZZ shooters around this area so this version of target shooting will be available for those of us who are interested.

 

Otherwise it is just time to get ready for turkey day and try to stay on a diet for a change. Have a Great Thanksgiving Day, and if you have to travel, travel safe.

 

 

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October 9, 2008  

   It has been several weeks since I updated, partially due to laziness and partially due to my disposition. I was waiting to relax a little before I wrote about some subjects.

 Although it is old news now, I would like to comment on the declaring of co-champions in the Clay Target Championship at this year’s Grand American. I have heard comments like “What were they thinking?” or “Why would you do that?” — to which I would like to say, if you think it was a bad decision, you needed to be there to understand. I do not think there was anyone in the crowd that did not think that it was a great call. This was truly one of those times when no one deserved to lose. By showing the co-champs in the Grand American program, it will forever highlight the longest shootoff in the history of the game and the fact that it happened in THE world-championship singles event.

 So better late than never: congrats again to Leo Harrison III and Foster Bartholow; 900 straight in shootoff is simply astounding, and when you consider the fact that the pressure was even higher that it would have been since it was for the Clay Target Championship makes it almost unbelievable. I am really glad I was there to see it unfold.

 As you may remember, I was pushing for some handicap rule changes and at least got a hearing. I am concerned that the one rule change that did occur may not be successful if shooters are reluctant to take reductions. I had suggested that all shooters start at the 18-yard line, and the rule change is still to start at the 20 but be able to move forward to the 18. One of the reasons that many shooters petitioned to get off the 17- and 18-yard line years ago was the fact that it caused so many squadding problems. As a result, movement in front of the 19 was totally eliminated.

 A rule change that made sense but never saw the light of day was the elimination of the handicap loads going back to 1200 fps. The discussion against change basically centered on the “fact” that you could not police this rule. What is crazy is that the rule is not policed now (the only policing that occurs is the manufacturers and their integrity of manufacture). The point of the suggested change was completely missed with this line of thought. The intent was to make it a little tougher on the proficient 27-yard shooters, most of whom all shoot factory loads and most of whom DO shoot the handicap load in their favorite brand. One or two great shots do not shoot the handicap loads but the rest do and when that many great shooters “agree” on something,there is probably a reason.

 The other line of discussion was that this change would not make any difference. Where is the data that supports that line of thought, and why not make the change so the data can be tested? As I said in my previous blog, one way politicians kill an agenda item is to dispute or discredit the data.

 Enough of that. The fall handicap shoot at the Vernal Gun Club was a great time and a fun shoot for me. Like a lot of shoots around it was down some, but as usual Sean and Stacy did a great job of managing the shoot. (Although I personally love the format, the “regular” short-yardage shooter may not like a 500 handicap program, especially as dominant as the 27 yarders seem to be at this club.)

 The weather was great, the winds were mostly calm, and the sun was generally bright, which all help the long-yardage shooters. Three 99s tied for the final handicap, with Ray Stafford (27) winning the shootoff over runnerup Jess Rodriguez (21) and third Brent Epperson (27). The targets were set well as is always the case when Sean is in charge—you know the targets are very going to be consistent from trap to trap.

 The “Uintah Basin Cartel” headed by Craig and Pete (Bill was hunting elk) once again did a great job of feeding everyone. Friday night was a catfish supper, and then Saturday night for the special-event supper we were treated to buffalo ribeye steaks. You never leave Vernal hungry. It was a fun shoot, and it is great that Bill, Craig and Pete have taken such an interest in the club.

 

 

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August 14, 2008

Greetings from the greatest trapshoot in the world. I have had a decent shoot so far but really need a target or two more to make it a good shoot. I guess I am now officially an old fart, since I shoot a release trigger and have hit singles better than anything else this week. I broke the first 700 singles then missed the 18th target of the Clay Target Championship to end with 199. My shootoff performance has been pretty dismal so far. Sunday night we shot off the 200-bird NRA singles race, which also included all the carryover from the first three 100-target singles races. I went 25-24, which took me out of the 200 bird race but let me in for runnerup in the Richard Shrode (Wednesday) and Leo Harrison III (Thursday) singles and third in the Embracing the Past (Friday) singles. Monday in the Class Singles I again went 200x200 and then 25-24 in the shootoff. I had a great week at singles, going 899x900, but missing one in the CTC is not what I had in mind. As they say, the difference between a champ and a chump is one target.

There were six of us who broke the first 500 on the program: Foster Bartholow, Evan Fine, Randy Miller, Kay Ohye, Tim Varble and myself. Evan and Tim are both junior shooters. I suspect this is the first time a junior has broken all the prelim-week singles at the Grand. I have always maintained that younger shooters are not “smart enough” to know how tough it is supposed to be to break big scores, and the “problem” is that when they break these scores when they are juniors, they are then past the psychological number barriers so when they get old enough to know better, they have “been there/done that” so it is not that big a deal to them to break the big-number scores. We are raising some juniors who will set scoring records five, 10 or 15 years from now that will scare guys like me and probably everyone else also.

My squad for the Grand is the same as it has been for about 10 years: Post 1, Bob Munson; Post 2, Ray Stafford; Post 3, Tom Wilkinson; Post 4, Dan Campbell; and Post 5, myself. Performance-wise Ray is having the best Grand on our squad, having been in several shootoffs and hanging very tough in the NRA and Class Singles shootoffs. Ray broke 200 under the lights Sunday night along with Gentleman Gerry Williams. Ray and Gerry finished one-two in that event. Ray then broke another 150 under the lights Monday night before carrying to the Clay Target, where he missed in the first 25. Between the two 200-target events and the 350 night shootoff targets, Ray had an unofficial run of 750 singles. Until you have been under the lights at the Grand, you can never truly understand just how phenomenal this and many of the other shootoff performances are. In Tuesday’s Pres. Neil Winston Handicap Bob, Ray and myself all broke 98. The shootoff for 27-yard champion was really hard on me as I broke only 22, but Bob and Ray both broke 24 to end third and fourth, respectively. It really hurts to have Bob beat me in a handicap event. Bob is always thumping me in the singles and doubles, but I usually get him in the ’caps, so he really knocked my ego down a notch or two with that win.

Along other lines, I met with the Executive Committee and delivered my handicap proposal in person. I have had several Delegates tell me that they discussed it in their Zone meetings and there may be some momentum for shorter yardage, but the 1,200 fps and 29-yard line concepts have absolutely no support. The reason being given is that these changes would not make any difference. This drives me crazy; how do they know they will not make any difference? Since the advent and subsequent refinement and perfection of handicap loads by all the manufacturers, 27-yard handicap dominance has increased. Shell speed is by no means the only reason, but it has to be a contributing factor. What not phase it in in January 2010 and test it? It will not cost anyone anything, and then at least we would know. Also the same for the 29—it is generally maintained that it would not do any good and would unduly harm some small clubs. I have always maintained that the 28 would do more than people think, so why not test it? There is already a 28-yard line at Sparta on the fields that were designed for trap/skeet combo fields. The long-yardage shooters would have to be squadded on those fields, but maybe a side benefit would be that since the top shooters would be more concentrated in one spot, other shooters would find it easier to go watch some of the “pro’s” shoot handicap. People are always scared of change, but if we don’t, we don’t evolve—and we all know what happened to the dinosaurs.

 

 

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     July 8, 2008   

   The following is a copy of a letter and article that I gave to ATA President Neil Winston during the Wyoming State Shoot. Hopefully, it will generate some discussion and even some action that will help our sport.

Dear Neil,

 I am delivering to you the attached article on “Let’s Talk Membership Retention.” I have discussed the concepts with several knowledgeable shooters and think that I have put forth some ideas that are worth serious consideration. I am going to mail the CCs Monday, July 7. It will then posted on my blog at www.trapandfield.com.

 The ATA needs desperately to do a better job of retaining new shooters and figuring out what needs to be done to keep some of the older (in terms of longevity in the sport, not age) shooters that have not been able to progress in their abilities. I think the attached recommendation (s), although not a total solution, will at least take a significant first step. The longest trip is always started with the first step.

 I have put forth concepts and did not go into the details necessary for implementation. I would urge you to consider the suggestions, and if anything has merit in the eyes of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, to implement something as quickly as possible and not get mired down in the details of implementation and minutia, allowing minor points of contention to result in inaction.

 

Thank you for your time.

 Respectfully submitted,

 

Phil Kiner

 CC:      Executive Committee

Central Handicap Committee

Board of Directors

 

Let’s Talk Membership Retention

By Phil Kiner

 

Before I get into this piece, a little intro may be in order. Previously when I have written articles on the handicap system, many have accused me of trying to line my pockets with larger purses as a result of these recommendations. Let me assure you that I believe the days of large purses are history and will probably never be back. Additionally, if larger purses or a pro tour were the result, the ones this would benefit are the current group of younger (less than 50 years of age) top guns and the group of “young guns to be” whose names we have not even heard.

 

My motivation is very simple—I love this game and would like to see it survive. My grandson is starting to shoot and enjoys it. When I retire in a couple of years, I intend to take him to major shoots with me. Assuming he takes to the game, I would like to think there would be a game left to play when I am gone and he is my age.

 

I have also opened this with some of “Kiner’s philosophy” on political theory which I thought would help with understanding how we get where we are and what we have to do to make progress. My intent is not to insult anyone, but rather to lay things out simply and, as is my style, probably too bluntly for some people. With that said, on with the thoughts.

 

It seems to me that there are two opposite approaches to making rules/laws. The first is to make them so stringent that the number of those who will take advantage of the system is reduced to the absolute minimum—regardless of how many non-cheaters it impacts negatively. The other approach is to make the rules liberal enough so that, while it is assumed that some cheaters will be able to play the system, the majority of the general population will remain relatively unhindered/unpunished in their pursuits within the system.

 

I also think that politicians will often embrace the status quo rather than advocate change because people (members) might not like the change, and doing nothing is “safer” (when it comes to reelection time) than doing something. This is true even when doing nothing is not actually in the long-term best interests of the majority of the population (members).

In my experience working in various departments in Wyoming state government over the years, I’ve observed that the best ways to kill/delay any initiative that is “scary” or controversial have been to commission a study or attack the data utilized to make the recommendations. The key to delaying action is to maintain that the current available data is flawed, meaning further study is required (and the time it takes for that study to happen is enough for all the paint on the Great Wall of China to dry) before decisions can be made. By the time the study is completed, you can bet that the real issues will have been forgotten, or they are left for future generations to deal with. Further, if there is any chance that the data could gore a sacred cow or tarnish a golden ox of those in power, the study will be vigorously attacked and then forever stamped as invalid.
 

My hypothesis is that the trapshooting powers that be, both now and in the past, have either consciously or unconsciously chosen to go down the “stringent” path with regards to the ATA handicap system. Now relax; I am not going to fall on my sword again and suggest a total revamp of the handicap system. Instead, I am going to suggest a couple of significant changes.

 

My basic assumptions: over half of the total membership is not competitive at its current yardage of 20 to 21 yards. This has been the case for many years, and unless something changes, the situation will only get worse. It will only get worse because the best are getting better and the rest are staying the same. Have you heard the definition of insanity is the continual repetition of the same action/approach in the hopes that the results will change? Perhaps it is time to try some changes.

 

There is a change in shooting technique/ability that needs to happen between the shortest yard-markers and the 20-yard line. I have some empirical data based on moving shooters to the 19 or 18 in clinics, and I can tell you that most 20- to 21-yard shooters will break more targets at the 19 than they will at 20 or 21. As far as I know, no one from the ATA has ever analyzed the difference between scores at the 18-19 vs. the 20-21. Also, I’m not sure if there is any intention of doing so in any of our lifetimes.

 

We’ve all heard the grumblings from the general membership that they are fed up with the domination of the “pros.” Since there is no good way to define “pro,” no pro tour available to ship the “pros” on, and no empirically apparent, observable, or direct benefit to the ATA arising from a televised pro tour, there is no incentive for the powers that be to institute a pro tour or embrace the concept. In fact there is some “disincentive” since some might feel that “feeding the pros” is not in the general best interests of the organization, i.e., using the organization’s funds to benefit a very small sector of the group.

 

Please note that a pro tour not benefiting the ATA and its sister organizations is not my assumption, but rather what I assume is the assumption of the respective governing bodies. I believe it is better to try something and fix it if it doesn’t work than to do nothing. It’s said that Thomas Edison built more than 1,000 versions of the light bulb before he got one to work, and he is generally considered a success. His result was well worth the effort. Perhaps we can afford a mistake or two while attempting something new.

 

It is time to make one significant change, and that is to start all new members at the 18-yard line (ladies, juniors and sub-juniors at the 17). At the same time, let those currently on the 19, 20, and 21 have the option of moving up two yards to the 18/19. Leave this option open for the first six months of the new rule. This would allow some of the current members to observe the change and decide if they want to take advantage of the closer yardage. By making it the new starting point, very soon there would be enough shooters on the “ultra-short” yardages to solve most squadding problems.

 

I’ve heard it said by one of those in power that a lot of handicap shooters would not be competitive even at the 16, so why move them at all? To this I would reply, why not put them where they have a better chance of being competitive and will break more targets? I know for a fact that the more targets you break, the better chance you have of getting better (success breeds more success). I also know for a fact that someone who is not competitive at the 16 will still hit a lot more targets at the 18 than he/she will at the 20. If you don’t believe this, go find several struggling 20-yarders and move them to the 17 or 18 and note the difference in number of targets broken. I bet the improvement will surprise you.

 

In this day and age of computers, the known (and soon to be) sandbaggers could be dealt with relatively easily. We would not have to let any of the current ones start at the new yardage, and we would not have to let them move forward when the current short yardage shooters were moved. If some sandbaggers did slip through the system, they will be quickly identifiable and could be dealt with as they occur. Would they have stolen a big pot or two? Sure, but remember, which is more important: a small group, or 6,000 new shooters a year every year ad infinitum?

 

This one change can be accomplished with no additional expense, since no new concrete is involved. If it turned out to be a true fiasco (which I think is unlikely), it could be fixed fairly simply after a couple of years.

 

New-shooter turnover is extremely high. According to ATA officials, every year we gain about 6,000 new shooters; unfortunately, we also lose about the same number. Making the current situation even more critical is the beating that the shotgun sports are taking due to escalating costs of lead, components and fuel. So why not try something new that might actually encourage newer shooters to shoot more and/or stay longer?

 

After you have decided to work on the above then perhaps it is time to get really brave and try this.

 

My additional recommendations (thanks to Steve Carmichael for his review and additional input here): change the maximum handicap from 27 to 29 yards (some clubs might have only one or two banks where the 29 could be implemented, but it could be accomplished). Also, to help address separation problems between traps, move straight back instead of extending the “fan pattern.” The 29 would not cause as many squadding problems as you might think, since the ones that make the 29 would still be able to shoot with other 27-yarders. It is also consistent with the “two yard move closer” and is an acknowledgement of our history, the max from 25 to 27 being a two-yard change. The two yard change from the 25 to the 27 had a much more significant effect than anyone ever expected. I have felt for a long time that “only” moving to the 28 would have a bigger impact that anyone thinks, so why not to the 29? Also, make anyone that gets a punch to the 28/29 subject to mandatory reductions, as well as new members.

 

Last but not least, go back to the old 1,200-fps rule for ammunition, effective Dec 31, 2010. This one is more significant that most realize and needs to happen if nothing else does. This would help strengthen/lengthen the effect on shooters’ 27- or 28-yard handicap and would simplify a lot of ammo production and buying decisions. Setting D-Day in 2010 would give sufficient time for all the excess “hot” ammo to move through the system without being wasted. Long-yardage handicap scores went up significantly when companies started building handicap loads. Analysis of averages since the inception of the handicap loads will show that averages have risen, and although target settings and many other things have probably had an impact, I think there is little doubt that the handicap loads have in effect shortened the 27-yard line.

 

These three changes require very little paperwork and not much concrete, and their purpose is to address the problem (or make a start) of those 6,000 who leave our ranks every year. According to the 2004 Average Book (the most recent year the data was published), generally speaking, more than 75% of the women and nearly 50% of the men are at 21 yards or closer. That 75% registered nearly 62% of the total handicap targets shot by all women, while the 50% registered roughly 30% of the total handicap targets shot by all men. This means that there is a lot of room for growth in this tier of shooters, and with some encouragement, we might realize some of that growth.

 

Instead of summarily dismissing these ideas and saying “it will not work,” why not give something new a try? I did not go into the specifics of implementation. This could be figured out once the decision to make some changes was actually made. I think the key is to act quickly and keep it simple.

 

 

 

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June 25, 2008

Have been meaning to write this for a month, so I better get busy.

 The 2008 Great Lakes Grand  is history, and once again they did a great job of running the shoot. The trap personnel were well trained and the weather was the best I have ever seen in Mason over Memorial Day weekend. Once again they drew for bank assignments, which is really the only fair way to do it both at Michigan and many other places. I think going to a random draw for all major points shoots is a great idea.

 My one complaint is that the ghost of “Rocket Roy” paid a visit to the Great Lakes Grand this year. Rick and Dave went nuts trying to keep the Pat-Traps’ speed down to the 50-yard line. By about the third day of the shoot, the traps were speeding up from two to eight yards, which  is part of the problem; i.e., the speed-up is not consistent trap to trap. Additionally, they were the only two trap-setters for most of the shoot—how can two people be expected to keep up with 40 traps that need constant attention?

 The latest vintage of Pat-Trap rubber bands is prone to speeding up significantly, even more than past versions. In the Doubles Championship, we had pairs reaching the uncut grass (about the 52-yard line, which would be about 54-yard doubles) with a 20- to 30-mph tail wind. What is interesting about this problem with the Pat-Trap rubber bands  is that the longer the shoot goes on, the worse the speed-up problem gets. At the 2007 Southern Grand, there were two traps that were speeding up 10 to 15 yards past the 50-yard stake—and these two traps did it consistently every day.

 Leo was dominant at the Great Lakes Grand this year, and his performance was  simply phenomenal. The targets in Michigan are always tough, and he simply outshot everyone. This further illustrates that when we throw them longer, the cream will rise to the top and win by a larger margin.

 Kudos to Bill Martin, Craig Hart, Pete Martin (a.k.a. MHM)—
and you too, Sean!

 I just got home from Vernal, Utah’s big money shoot (Uintah Basin), and it was simply fantastic.

 For those of you who do not know about this, MHM have formed a large cartel of about 60 of the businesses in the Uintah Basin, and this group has dug deeply into their pockets to put tons of money and effort into this shoot.

 It started with the Bill and LeAnn Martin miss-and-outs on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Tuesday they added $1,000 to each of the miss-and-outs. Wednesday they added $2,000 to the first three and then $4,000 to the last one. You had to pay the gigantic sum of $35 to get into each one. I broke the first 25 in the second and fourth (yes, the big one) and then crashed and burned in the shootoff. In the last one Thursday, I broke the 25 and then in the shootoff with seven others proceeded to follow a lost-lost-lost with my own lost to look around and see only two shooters left (two pays, $2,400/1,600). The difference between a champ and a chump is one target.

 The first day was 100 doubles/100 handicap/50 handicap, and I shot like a toad. I had my worst doubles score in about five years, breaking a 91. The reason I mention this is to pass on a lesson to everyone. I had been breaking a lot of my left lenses on the left side, and Al Lehman changed the base curve on a set of lenses to see if that would help the problem. He warned me to test them first in case they changed how/where the target appeared in space. Since I looked through them and everything seemed normal, I shot them for the first 70 of doubles. What was driving me nuts was that it didn’t feel like I was making a mistake, but and the second target would not break, and when it did there was rarely any smoke. In desperation, since I had no other lenses with me, I took them out of the frames and shot with nothing in the frames (yes, I know that was a rules violation). With no lenses and even with my astigmatism making me see two targets, I broke the last 30 targets. So those lenses are history.

 Thursday and Friday both had 50-bird handicaps to end the day. Last year they were 100-target races, and Sean cut them to 50 hoping not to run out of daylight. He told me that next year they will either do away with them altogether or make the P/O so high that only the wolves will enter. I suggested a non-registered 50 set to 55 yards on the bottom nine traps (the late light is not as unfair that way) as an alternative.

 Thursday night they had a Beach Boys tribute group from Denver entertain shooters and all enjoyed the music and free pulled-pork meal compliments of MHM and the Cartel. (This group may be better than the original Beach Boys!) Then Friday night Neal McCoy put on a phenomenal show to a packed clubhouse crowd. That night shooters and one guest each were treated to great ribeye steaks with all the trimmings. And finally, Saturday night we had some great smoked ribs prior to the special event, which totaled about $200K. Every night there was a free bar, and only when MHM and the Cartel is involved will Crown Royal be the bar whiskey.

 Scores were high, and they had 100s in the handicap both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday the two 100s came from my squad but neither were by me. Jim Butler and Stu Welton broke them on Saturday and then Sunday Frank Hoppe, Lee Kastle and Bruce Taylor each broke 100. They paid their buyers about $20K each. I had 98-97 the last two handicaps and will have to go back to see if I can redeem myself there next year.

 This shoot was loads of fun, and Sean and his wife Stacy did a great job of managing it. The next time you see any of the MHM Cartel, tell them thanks for their support of trapshooting.

 

 

 

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May 13, 2008

It has been a while, and I had several things I was going to talk about, but I am short on time (as usual) and will instead make this one pretty quick.

 

Congratulations and big kudos to Jim Heller!

 

Jim was pretty much the lone trapshooter competing in the “World All-Around Shotgun Championship.” It took a lot of guts to fork out $5,000 of his personal cold hard cash to knowingly “get into a card game with the deck stacked against him (trapshooter).” The shoot could more accurately be called the “World Combination Sporting Clays Championship Featuring a Couple of Minor Preliminary Diversions from Other Disciplines.”

 

The good news is that he represented our sport well, winning the trap competition, coming in second in the flyers, and tying for second in the combined flyer/helice calcutta. His strong showing in these three venues covered his financial outlay for the whole shoot. Great job, Jim!

 

For those who think I am just being a whiny trapshooter, think about this: 17.1% of the targets shot were trap, and only 50 of those were from the 27. The other 100 targets were 50 singles and 50 doubles. If they want to test skill, then at least have 150 targets from the 27 so that a trapshooter has some chance to gain some targets in his/her field of specialty. Lots of shooters can score reasonably high in singles, but the true test is the 27-yard line.

 

Almost one-third (31.4%) of the targets were sporting clays in one form or another, and the skeet games (17.1% of the targets) are closer to sporting than they are to trap. Additionally, the 150 NSSA skeet targets were 75 any gauge and 75 doubles. This doesn’t give the “skeetie” guys much of a chance to build any cushion in their area of main expertise. Seventy-five of the 150 targets being any gauge also reduces a significant piece of the skeet experts’ advantage. The tough skeet game is .410, and if that is too difficult because of gun issues, at least drop to 28 gauge (the small gauge that is most common).

 

Just to let you know that I don’t just take shots in the dark, I do intend to speak to Scott and relay my thoughts. I don’t know if I have the time to try to shoot this myself because of limited vacation days, but who knows?

 

One last thought: Scott Robertson (Elm Fork Gun Club and nationally known sporting clays shooter) is to be commended for dreaming this competition up. A format like this has a chance to make it on television, and the more positive P.R. the shotgun games get, the better off we all are. Like everything that happens in this world, it is not whether the first attempt was perfect, but rather whether an attempt was made and then if it undergoes constant attempts at improvement.

 

I have said forever that we should be focusing on a way to get trapshooting on television. The problem is that being on TV would benefit not only the game but also some of the “pros” (from the additional exposure). It is time to quit worrying whether the road to improving the game’s future will incidentally help some of the current “young guns,” and instead set a goal of helping the game. That way some of our really young guns will still have the opportunity to try it when they are old enough.

 

 

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April 18, 2008

Well, I hit the lobby at 4:32 this morning. I intended to start on my shoot notes but will first talk about an incident at the gun club yesterday. Mike was standing by the car at the gun club when Phil Wright came up to him and said, “Look at that red dot on your rear bumper.” Sure enough, there was a small red dot (about three-quarters of an inch in diameter, a standard label dot from the office supply store) stuck about six inches from the far left side.

He explained that was how thieves were marking cars and then checking motel and restaurant lots later for cars to break into. When we got back to our room (which was advertised with a shoot special in the program), there were four other cars in the lot with the red dots on the bumpers. We notified motel security, and they patrolled all night.

Was going to work on my shoot notes, but Dick Fisher was here again this morning, and instead I have been talking to him. I met him yesterday morning, and we had a great chat. He noticed my T-shirt and wanted to know if I was here for the trapshoot. As soon as we figured out that we were both shooters, we were friends.

Dick is from Peninsula, Ohio, and shoots at the Copley Gun Club. He shoots a K-80 Special combo that he bought from Pat McCarthy. He is 73 years old and did not start shooting till he was 70. He said it is tough in the senior vet category when you are a “rookie.” He is in San Antonio with his girlfriend who likes to sleep in, and so like me he is patrolling the motel lobby in the early hours.

We have discussed trapshooting, business, the stock market and women. He is about as perverted as I am, so we really hit it off. Dick owns Fisher’s Cafe and Pub, and his son runs it while Dick is off having fun. They have been named as having the “Best Hamburger in NE Ohio” by Channel 8 in Cleveland and interviewed Dick’s son on TV. Dick said his son is a ham. I am talking to Dick as I type this and he has no idea what I am writing about, so it will be funny if he finally reads this someday.

Time to get back to thinking about shooting. The targets have been sporting so far this week, but it is due to the weather and the worn-out handset traps. The target-setting committee is doing as good as possible. The guys that have the top scores each day are really paying attention. There is not much margin for error with the wind. Next year will be better here as they will have all-new automatic traps.

Later. pk

 

 

 

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April 16, 2008

It is Wednesday, and I am in my motel lobby in San Antonio, Texas. It is 5 a.m. and I am in the lobby instead of the room so that my traveling partner Mike Storeim doesn’t get awakened by my early morning antics. It seems as if my sleep automatically ends between 3.30 and 5.00 a.m. every morning, and if I turn the lights on it wakes Mike up.

 I arrived in San Antonio for the Southwestern Grand American Satellite yesterday afternoon via United airlines. I don’t have time to drive to the distant shoots anymore because of work and limited leave time. Speaking of work, which I had avoided mentioning on this blog because I thought it might not be appropriate, but have decided that some reference is probably okay. Anyway, it is great to get away from the office. The month at work since the Southern Grand has been intense. One of the projects I am in charge of is what we call the “joint labs.” We flew to Stillwater, Oklahoma last week to look at the old animal lab and the design for the new animal lab. Talk about the way to go, we took the State plane which is a Citation and we got to Stillwater from Cheyenne in one hour and 11 minutes. Normally I don’t have enough “stroke” to justify the plane, but with the head of the Ag College as one of the six passengers, it upped our “stroke factor” considerably. Some background: I’m from Oklahoma and went to college at Oklahoma State University (OSU). My youngest brother, Wayne, met me, and I rode to town with him while the rest of the group was chauffeured by the head of the OSU lab.  Wayne is the head of the Ag Engineering lab at OSU. He then met us for lunch and after lunch he gave me a quick tour of the OSU campus which has really changed since I left there in 1971.

 One of the tour stops was “The Hideaway” pizza parlor.  We stopped in the hopes of running into Richard Dermer the founder and owner and one great guy. Dermer hired me in 1969 because one of my cousins had worked there and gave me a good reference. It was a great part-time job. I worked there the last two years I was at OSU. Boy, did we have some memorable times—it was like a brotherhood working there. When I started I was the only “non city” person there having come to OSU from Aline, Oklahoma.  Population: 326. Aline High School’s enrollment was 32, and no, not in the senior class, but in ALL four grades. My senior class had a strong six members (four guys and two gals).

 Tom Horschler of Faxon, OK is an old running mate and may be at the SW Grand again this year. He came last year, and it was the first time I had seen him since 1971. He had also worked at the Hideaway via his contact with me. We were known as “redneck one” and “redneck two.” It was kind of interesting (looking back) that one of the other guys at the Hideaway was a trapshooter. And, because of my quail hunting, Dermer was always telling me he thought I would make a good trapshooter.  Of course there was no way I was going to try trapshooting at that period in my life as I was way too serious a student (or maybe it was because Marsha and I were broke). I have not talked to Dermer since 1971, and I guess I need to put that on my “Bucket List.”

 Well enough for now—if I shoot good I will post here later in the week. And if not, I will not mention San Antone again.     PK

 

 

 

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April 7, 2008  

Well, the Cowgirls lost to Pitt and then Pitt lost, so I guess I need to take “how about them Cowgirls” off my cell as the ringback song. In other basketball news, Cowboys coach Heath Schoyer didn’t renew the scholarships of two players for next season. Normally that would not be big news but one of the two was one of the most highly recruited kids from Wyoming in a long time. Looks like a huge political gamble to me. Time will tell.

 

Finally, it was great to see someone from west of the Mississippi get to the Championship game. Unfortunately, Memphis will not be as cocky and nonchalant as NC was, and I predict it will be Memphis by 12 tonight.

 

Time to brag—went to Gene and Kelli “Mountains” C. for their weekly Hold’em tourney and split first with Dave Ayers. He has a great bunch, and I really enjoyed taking out “Huggy Bear” and “Cowboy,” both of whom will claim that I sucked out on the river, but that is just sour grapes. Marv (“I never saw two cards that are not playable”) Applequist from the Cheyenne club also went. Cheyenne hosted their last poker tourney of the winter, and Dave “7/4” Bilstad made a great comeback to win. I did not make the final table, but that is only because as the Poker Commissioner of the trap club, I was distracted by trying to run the tourney (that’s a joke).

 

It is time to get serious about shooting, if only the weather will cooperate. Last week Pat Stanosheck and I went out one day at noon, and it was actually calm. We shot 60-yard targets, and I shot the first 25 singles calling “pull” with my eyes closed. I then shot a round of handicap from the 30 and finished with 48x50 from the 27 to end the day. Then we had four straight days with winds that at one time or another had 50+ mph gusts. This has been one of the windiest stretches in Wyoming for a long time. Hopefully we can get a good day or two of practice in before San Antone.

 

I have had some interesting vision training e-mails and will try to quit procrastinating long enough to get some results posted. I’ll get on that tomorrow.

PK

 

 

 

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Seven

 

March 21, 2008

The Cowgirls don’t play till Saturday, so I guess I will have to ’fess up and give a poker report.

 

First, this league would not be possible without “Zabby” and Sean, particularly Sean. “Zabby THE Commish” rules with an iron fist and keeps this bunch in line, although as the group will tell you, he takes plenty of liberties with the rules of poker and his refusal to accept “chip and a chair.” Sean simply makes the league go—the tables are set up, the chips are ready, and the munchies are set out every week. She is the ultimate hostess.

 

Now for the results. First, even though I got the most chips going in, I made a bad call when Zabby hit the nut straight. Until that point I was about second in chips, but I never recovered and ended 16th (the last place in the $$).

 

The tourney and the big bucks went to Kathy “TN” Krieger (subbing for Brenda), who did a great job of playing her cards the final night. I know all you “old fart” trapshooters will find this hard to believe, but the women in our league strike fear in the hearts of this bunch of rednecks.

 

Particularly Gwen “BB” Perdue, Amy “LRB” Bishop, Brenda “HG” Creel—who could not make the finals due to chasing Jim around a beach somewhere south of the border—and last but not least, Ronda “Spiker” Munger  These ladies are all great, tough players, with Amy finishing 3rd, Gwen finishing 6th and Ronda 8th the final night.

 

One last piece of trivia: Gwen and Brenda always bring a bottle of their favorite wine each week—the brand name Ménage à Trois (that is the truth; that is a brand-name wine).

Seven

 

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Seven

 

March 19, 2008  

It was hectic getting home from the Southern Grand (SG) Sunday night and arriving about midnight. Amazing how your priorities change depending on the circumstances. Normally one is unhappy to get home an hour or two late especially when it is approaching the midnight hour. However, when the other alternative is to spend the night in the airport or have the wife drive to Denver (two-plus hours on the bad roads), getting home a little late on the last flight of the day is great.

 

I was generally not happy with my shooting at the SG. I did have a couple of decent handicap scores and won the prelim handicap on Friday. But I felt like I gave away a golden opportunity in the main handicap because 98s were high and I finished with a 97. I started slow in this event and finished strong. I have several notes from this shoot to go home and work on. It is time to start shooting 60-yard practice for the next eight weeks. More on my practice habits if I can catch a day to shoot.

 

The really great news came Monday evening when my Cowgirls were announced as a number 11 seed in the Spokane regional for the NCAAW Tourney.

 

It was mighty tense for awhile as the Spokane regional was the last one announced and Utah was screwed with a number 8 seed. This made it look like we were out given the fact that they should have been a 4 or 5 seed. I hate the Eastern bias every March Madness. Believe me when you have more antelope than people, some things are huge to both  the morale and pride of the entire state.

 

Last but not least, it is with some trepidation that I mention this final item. Tonight is the year-end playoff for the Longhorn Poker League hosted by Keith Zabka and his lovely wife Sean at their “poker barn” in north Cheyenne. We have played since last September and after 17 regular season-ending sessions, guess who is leading the pack? You got it.  Handicap shooting and poker playing—little ole me. Hope I have not jinxed my chances by mentioning the finals tonight. We have 40 players in the league, and tonight will be an exciting test of skill and determination. I hope the Goddess of Pocket AA is smiling on me. I have played better this winter than in the past, and I must give some credit to “Big Bob” from somewhere out east, Pennsylvania I think. He recommended a couple of books that he likes and they did help elevate my game. Of course there was lots of room to go up.

 

Time to start thinking about vision for next time, and the next report when the Cowgirls go to the “Sweet Sixteen.”

 

PK

Seven

 

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Seven

 

March 13, 2008  

Well it was a dark day to be a Cowboy fan yesterday. The Cowboys went to Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference post-season tournament and forgot to get there, losing to the 0-16 in-conference Sheep.

Then to add insult to injury the Cowgirls also never arrived at Vegas either. They lost to the 6th seed Lady Aztec’s. Then to compound the problems even further the number 1 Tourney-seed Lady Utes also never got to Vegas and lost to the Sheepette’s in their first game. So in a span of about 12 hours the Cowgirls went from being NCAA Tourney bound to the WNIT again. I hate having to say wait till next year every damned year.

The only good news in the basketball arena came from good Ole Cheyenne last week. Good friend and fellow Cheyenne Trap-shooter Ron Cook’s Granddaughter Chelsey Lybeck led the Cheyenne Central Lady Indians to the Wyoming 4-A State Championship. Not only is she a great ballplayer and fierce competitor -she is also a great young lady.

Along trapshooting lines the Southern Grand is progressing. So far the shoot seems to be very well run this year and the targets have been consistent on both sides of the road. I have had a couple of OK scores but nothing to brag about yet. Ray Stafford has had 3 good handicap scores on our squad bagging 98-97-97 in the first 3 handicaps. Hopefully today (Thursday)  I will get my game-face on.

That is all the shoot report I am going to give at this time since there is no way I can compete with the literary skills of the “THE Prez” of Minnesota Dog Squad fame. However, I do have a little gossip for the TV show “As the Trap Turns”. I can report there is significant dissention brewing on the Dog-squad. While sitting with these guys yesterday I learned that “THE Prez” has a habit of not reporting all the facts when he is out-retrieved the first event of the day.  The rest of the squad, The Piddler, The Schnauzer and Almost Hairless are about to lift their legs around the Big Black Bus if things do not change. I did notice that after their complaints “THE Prez” did do a better job of reporting Wednesday’s events. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

Finally, I have to plug my home—everyone is always asking why live in Wyoming if you are a trapshooter?? I think this helps answer that question.
http://logan.geoconsulting.us

Seven

 

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Seven

 

 March 9, 2008

 

It is already March 9, 2008 and it has been a month since the last update. I had a new update about two weeks ago and never got it finished. It was a good one, but unfortunately it is in the hard drive of my desk top back in Wyoming, and I am sitting in Crystal River, Florida.  So I will start again.

 

First to the important things in life—the Cowboys and Cowgirls. The Cowgirls pretty much screwed their national rankings when they went to Utah and forgot to get show-up points, losing badly to the lady Utes. One must give the Lady Utes credit as they are a great team: 27-3 and 16-0. The girls then had their way with BYU in our last home game of the season (in Wyoming we call BYU the evil empire) to finish out the regular season at 24-5 and 12-4 in conference. We are seeded third in the Mountain West Conference Tourney. TCU is the second seed winning some obscure tie breaker to gain the number two ranking. The only automatic bid to the dance (Men’s or Women’s) from the Mountain West Conference is the tournament Champion so the girls really need to win and gain back some respect.

 

http://wyomingathletics.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/wyo/sports/w-baskbl/auto_pdf/2008MWCWomensBracket.

 

The cowboys are a whole ‘nother thing altogether. First year head coach Heath Schroyer had a lot of fans expecting more than 12-17 and 5-11 conference. They went to the Evil Empire for the last game of the season and got totally manhandled. This puts us in the play-in game against our other arch rival—the dreaded Sheep (CSU Rams). The winner of that game then gets to face number 1 seed BYU. 

 

http://wyomingathletics.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/wyo/sports/m-baskbl/auto_pdf/2008MWCMensHoopsBracket

 

Coach Schroyer actually was plotting some very sneaky strategy by getting beaten so bad at BYU 78-61. We saved all the top secret stuff from the play book and will unleash it against them when we meet in the tourney. (That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!)

 

Hopefully I have got some of you to actually cheer for us. Being a graduate of both Okie State and then Wyoming, “my hero’s have always been Cowboys.”

 

I will finished my first clinic on the road today with a great bunch of guys at Robinson Ranch (Dunnellon, FL) and then I’m headed to the Southern Grand starts. Being a typical trapshooter if I do any good shooting I will update from here. And if not, you won’t hear me mention Florida again ‘till next year.

 

The last thing I want to mention is that someone wanted to know my take on the presidential race in Wyoming. It doesn’t matter here who is the Democratic contender as no matter who it is they will lose to any Republican by something in the neighborhood of 70-30 come general election time. I am not making a statement regarding any candidate, I'm just telling you that is the way it is in Wyoming. PK

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  February 8, 2008

   Being a numbers guy I thought it would be good luck to update my blog on a date that was as numerically interesting like 02/08/08. Speaking of luck I was wondering how many of you are superstitious. In the spirit of honesty I will admit that I have t-shirts that are for handicap, others that are for singles, others that are for doubles, and then some that are for the first day of the shoot.  And I have other shirts that will never go to another trapshoot and are relegated to the “Y” for noon work-outs. I am not the only shooter with idiosyncrasies: one shooter is a well known singles specialist from Minnesota who also has “special” t- shirts as does a perennial All-American from Colorado.

 

   I know it has just been a day or so since the last blog, but I have several things to talk about and I decided to get the vision question out there on its own without a lot of clutter.

 

   Last week was pretty tricky for UW basketball fans. The Cowgirls lost two in a row. The first was a heartbreaker on a three pointer at the buzzer to lose to the Utah, and then they went into a funk and lost at BYU. The Marriot Center in Provo is a tough place to play. However, that is no excuse, they simply choked. They have now slipped to #22 in the rankings.  The Cowboys beat Utah and lost to BYU. The Cowboys are now 8-12 and the Cowgirls are 18-3.

 

   Several of you asked about my shoulder and how the rehab is going and how it affects the shooting. I got to shoot for the first time three weekends ago. The first time my shoulder was pretty tender for the first 10 shots and then was ok. I shot 50 singles and quit just to make sure I didn’t overdo it. It felt fine the next day, so the following weekend I shot 25 singles, 50 handicap and 100 doubles. The shoulder caused no major problem, but I could tell I had not lifted the gun in awhile. It is great to be started again and hopefully the wind will die down by Sunday. Today 02/08/08 we had sustained winds of 35to 50mph regular and a peak gust of 70mph.

 

   The shoulder surgery last fall was the rotator cuff (right shoulder). I think it is in pretty good shape now but, having significant experience with surgeries, I can tell you that one major key to making any orthopedic procedure a success is to do the therapy.

 

   Time to close and once again if you have something you would like to hear about let me know.  PK

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February 6, 2008

   It must be time to update my blog having received several thousand requests to do so (lol). That is supposed to be a joke, but if I can convince the BBE (Big Bad Editor- Terry Heeg) that I am that popular maybe she will raise my pay so I can quit my day job (also a joke). Anyway I have actually heard from a few shooters telling me they had read the blog and that it was time to put something new on it, or even some suggestions regarding possible discussion items. So if you have any suggestions let me know, pkiner@philkiner.com is my e-mail address.

 

   The other evening I spent  an hour or so on the phone with long time friend and 2004 Texas Trapshooting Hall of Famer. Jim Borum. Like many of us Jim is getting a little longer in the tooth and as such was asking about eyes. (How do you like the transition for teeth to eyes?) His specific concern was that he had noticed he was seeing significantly slower than he had not that many years ago. So the big question is: can you do anything to “speed up” your eyes/eye-hand coordination to get it back to younger or at minimum slow down the process?

 

   I personally am an advocate of eye exercises as is my eye “doc” Dr. Sue Lowe. I will talk to her and see if I can get her to weigh in on this issue either here or in an article. Jim did mention that there was an eye exercise program for one of the hand-held games, and we both wondered if anyone had any experience with any of these.

 

   I decided to throw the question out to the blog readers to find out what things other shooters have done that helped.

 

   C. J. Box has a new book. This one is a mystery but is not in the Joe Pickett “game warden” series. Blue Heaven is a story about two kids on the run in the woods of northern Idaho, pursued by four men (ex-cops from L.A.) who they have just seen commit murder. The killers know who the kids are and how to manipulate the system. The kids’ only hope for survival turns out to be a destitute, old-time rancher.
 

   C. J. has also agreed to let the Cheyenne Animal Shelter auction off “getting your name mentioned as a character” in his next Joe Pickett book, due out next year. This will happen at the shelter’s annual fundraiser April 5, and I would be glad to deliver your bid that night. Just let me know.

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   December 11th, 2007  

 

Hi, everyone,

 

   This is my first blog, so bear with me as I figure out what to write here.

 

   As I have been thinking about articles to write and the new year looming, I have been trying to actually assess what I need to do for next year. I haven’t fired a shot since the Grand and it is getting to me. I had shoulder surgery in September. The doc said I couldn’t shoot for a while, and October was perfect shooting weather here in Cheyenne. Finally, the doc told me I could shoot again, and we haven’t had a Sunday with less than 30 mph winds combined with the cold.

 

   I have been going to Laramie to watch both the University of Wyoming Cowboys and Cowgirls basketball teams play. My wife and I have been season ticket holders for years and recently we added a third for my Grandson Paige. The boys are pretty weak this year but they have a new coach and a new direction so I keep hoping. The girls are coming off last season as the WNIT Champions, and everyone that counted is back. They are currently ranked 21 or 22 depending on the poll, so I hope they keep on their winning ways when we get to the conference races and then March Madness.

 

   I know those of you that are in Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC, and Big East country hardly even realize that we have basketball out here, but we do. Last season I converted Paul Quattlebaum, aka Arkansas Paul, to being a Cowboy fan. Paul went to all but one of the home games with Paige and me last winter. He used Marsha’s (my wife) ticket since she refused to attend as long as our “old” coach was still there. Paul is working in PA so he will be missed at the ballgames and the trap club at Cheyenne this winter. His ticket will once again be used by Marsha since we have a new coach.

 

   It is 17 degrees and snowing as I write this so it is not looking good to test the shotgun on the new shoulder. We play tournament hold ‘em every Wednesday and Sunday during the winter so I guess I will practice shuffling once again instead of shooting.

 

   I remembered that Dec. 7 was my Great Grandpa’s birthday. His name was Marshall McCully, and the place I was raised on was homesteaded by him in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893.

 

   Let me know if you have any specifics that you want to hear about. Talk with you later. E-mail me at pkiner@philkiner.com

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