Is Shooting Getting Old? Time to Change Things Up

high school clays team trap skeet

Courtesy Jeff the Griz

Reader Jeff the Griz writes :

Shooting guns and archery since I was five or six, I moved on to a Brazilian manufactured single shot .410 bore and a compound bow at 10. That .410 gave me years of enjoyment with a small spring cock clay pigeon thrower. With some cheap birdshot and a box of clays I could spend the better part of an afternoon launching and shooting.

Years later I got away from shotguns. I was more interested in AR-15’s, tactical stuff and carry guns. I even got some time in with an IDPA group and started shooting steel targets.

After a move towards the big city and away from my little slice of heaven, hunting has become second to the joy of shooting. Although I have become better at putting small groups on paper targets at 25 yards, it has lost its allure for me.

Recent bad experiences at the local indoor range and the fact that static targets are only fun for a certain amount of time have left me wanting a little more challenge.

This spring my daughter joined the Clay Target Club for her high school for the 2019 season. The USA High School Clay Target League has over 800 schools participating in trap and skeet competitions nationwide. Her school and three others shared the local sportsman club’s shotgun trap ranges each Monday and Friday from April through June.

The club members volunteered their time and experience to instructing new shooters, providing tips to improve scores and keep everyone safe. As a parent, it was thrilling to watch these teenagers shoot and progress.

Towards the end of the spring season they had a family fun day. Unfortunately my wife and daughter had other plans, but I was able to attend with another family and try out my new-to-me Benelli (review upcoming) and shoot a few rounds of trap.

It was my first time on an actual shotgun line with other shooters and my first time trying to bust clays in years. All while using a brand new shotgun.

Using tips from club members and a few I’d overheard through the high school season and my own past experience, I managed a 16 out of 25, then a 19 out of 25 in those two rounds. I was hooked.

It’s been a joy to shoot with my daughter. I have also involved a long-term family friend who used to shoot with his son 30 years ago. I’ve also gotten my 17-year-old second cousin involved (who lives in a liberal household and gets minimal range time) and my uncle who has only been shooting a few years himself.

This past weekend marked the 8th straight weekend I was able to participate in shooting moving clay birds. Trap, skeet, 5-stand, and at the local park with my antique clay thrower. I am planning to shoot the local sporting clays course in the next few weeks if weather permits.

It’s been a blast (pun intended) breaking clays and even missing them. Shotgun sports are a lot of fun, very addictive and enjoyed more when you can shoot with family and friends. I am planning on shooting shotgun sports for years to come and hope to make many memories doing so.

I would encourage fellow readers of TTAG, if current shooting has become a rut and you want to escape the tedium, try something new. Long-range shooting, shotgun sports, competition shooting…there’s something for everyone, and occasionally we all need a little change.

If anyone has school-aged kids and wants to start a team, The USA High School Clay Target League has instructions on their website on how to join and start teams.


  1. avatar ROBERT Powell says:

    every one of the school kids today could use a good 5 to 6 years of american history ,civics, home economics ,and ENGLISH. and a good term or two of R.O.T.C. it would do them a world of good.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      So could 90% of the adults.

  2. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

    That’s what hooked me. Paper targets are boring once you’ve seen something “explode” in the air. Another plus….you can talk to the person next to you. Sitting in the clubhouse afterwards and talking about how well (or not) you did is another plus.

  3. avatar Craig in IA says:

    Actually, just picking up a shotgun and participating in a school-sponsored activity where a forbidden tool is the center of activity will do more good- hands on beats theory and drudgery every time. At least at some point a lot of the HS and college participants will actually learn, first hand, what they would be missing should various firearms be banned or more heavily regulated out of the hands of the masses. On the other hand, if you go through most of your life never experiencing the fun that can come from shooting, you will not give a damn if there’s a serious threat to the activity.

  4. avatar Cknarf says:

    I still like regular old target shooting, but it was easier when I had:

    -Disposable income
    -A local range

    I’ve got a wife, a kid, and bills that need paid.
    The nearest range is about 20 minutes out of town, and outdoor ones even farther.

    It’s a chore loading everything up, driving out there, and shooting for an hour or so before heading back.

    That’s when I’m not busy on the weekend with other things that I couldn’t get done because of work during the week.

    I’m interested in other shooting sports, particularly 3 gun, but I don’t see myself ever having the time in the near future.

    1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      Bah humbug! I have a husband, big kids, a dog and bills. My shotgun range is 30 min & indoor range is 35 min out of town. I love packing up the bag. It’s kinda like packing for a vacation. It IS a mini-vacation. I work, sometimes weekends. It’s a choice. I choose to not go to church, me bad.

      1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

        Early Sunday mornings I’m at the range. Usually I am alone that early, range goes hot at first light.

        That’s my time to converse with the Creator and ponder things.

        No distractions.

        you no bad

        1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:


      2. avatar Michael Stilinovich says:

        Re: Victoria Illinois

        Reminds me of a story from a similar perspective.
        I find it better to go out in nature and hunt and think about God than to go to church and think about hunting.


      3. avatar STSG2466 says:

        If you really want to do something, you can make time for it, not excuses. We’re all busy people I’m sure.

    2. avatar strych9 says:

      Examine your time allocation. People hate to hear it but it’s usually true: you put your resources where you want them.

      Maybe you don’t really want to get into 3gun. It’s perfectly OK to admit that you don’t consider the upfront or maintenance costs to be worth it.

    3. avatar Southern Cross says:

      I shoot in service rifle competition because every week is a different distance and course. At 100m we stand, 200 we sit, and 300 we go prone. Also for further variety there are rim fire matches and telescopic sight matches (prone at 200, 300, and 400m). In addition there are themed matches for ANZAC day, Remembrance day, and SMLE Centenary (+ a few years).

      For this I travel about an hour each way. Others have much longer distances but this does not dampen their enthusiasm.

      1. avatar Dani in WA says:

        Ooooh, I have a 1943 Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk 1* and a couple charger clips. It was sporterized a bit before it fell into my hands so less of the classic furniture and a rubber bumper on the end of the stock. I really should get into reloading as .303 British is not cheap.

        1. avatar Southern Cross says:

          The cost of .303 ammunition and reloading components is why I had a rusty barrel No4 converted to .223, and bought another parts bin gun already converted. Running costs are a lot less.

  5. avatar Fully Involved says:

    I wish outdoor ranges utilized targets that move at 8.6 mph, it would certainly come in handy when training to get off the x and return fire.
    Im thinking of fabbing some cheap contraption up myself and donating it to my local gun club. If anyone has any schematics or products to recommend then please post below.

  6. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I love shotgunning. It is fun and a hoot to shoot my old guns.

    Good practice for moving target and how to follow a target.

    Fun to get some guns out and bust some Clay’s. Get to shoot more than the average quail hunt.

  7. avatar Stuart says:

    ive been shooting Trap for a few years now-it is addicting-and I wish I had more time for it. Fortunately the course is just a few miles from me and it has kept my attention as I only just go to the indoor range for Pistol practice and long Outdoor Range to tune my Rifle skills. Unfortunately out of the group that I started with, Im the only one who is still active but some still come out occasionally and there is usually an interesting exchange of ideas between rounds with new and long time shooters Good scores are always fun but on occasional bad days its almost funny when you have to wonder what was I doin out there-Shooting at a moving target with a constant change of direction, wind and weather conditions always keeps it interesting and challenging.-

  8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    My favorite part of the article was how the author is involving new shooters. That’s how we win. Not preaching to the choir. Which is what we mostly do here.

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      New shooters, especially teens/pre-teens are part of our 2A future. My nephew, 13 yr old has been shooting indoor only, it will be fun and challenging to have him start shooting long range and ring steel this year.

  9. avatar Felixd says:

    You now run the danger of being identified as a Fudd. But, when you’re having fun who cares what people with limited imagination say. Shoot the crap of of clays targets, bring the kids, enjoy life, be yourself. Oh! The other danger is you may end up spending money. You will need 8 or 9 new guns over the next couple of years and a flat car of shells.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      So far bought a Browning for the daughter and a Benelli for me. Wife is on the fence, trying to stay semi-auto 20 guage but those pretty O/Us are calling my name. I’m just not looking forward to the “big money” that’s required for a reliable O/U. Flats of shells for $51 after tax at Gander Outdoors (buying one a week). It’s like feeding a second child.

      I’ll not take offense to being called a FUDD. Because I know where my 2nd amendment donations go(hint not the NRA) and how I vote.

    2. avatar Timothy says:

      Liking shotguns does not make a person a Fudd. Saying “I’m cool with banning everything except my shotgun and bolt action” is what makes a person a Fudd.

  10. avatar Ing says:

    Shooting isn’t getting old, but I am. I only wish I could go out shooting enough for any part of it to start getting old.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      And I would love to do some shotgunning. Sounds hella fun.

  11. avatar IT Shabake says:

    Shooting is always joyful.. it never gets old

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Curious if you read the article or just the title?

  12. avatar Bill Berger says:

    I shoot silly wets with a group every Friday. We alternate scoped and open sight rifles.. We use 22lr to keep it affordable using larger targets for open sights. The first Friday of each month we shoot pistols at reactive targets, some purchased and others home made to add variety. It good to shoot with group, lots of joking and we solve all the world’s problems.

  13. avatar Green Beastie says:

    The USA Clay Target League is over 1000 schools now, and they’re getting a collge program going. Something like 30,000 students participated last year

    There’s NOTHING out there introducing the next generation of kids to shooting sports out there like these guys. Tens of thousands of kids each year! TTAG and every group out there should be backing them 1000% because it’s these parents and kids that are going to keep America’s traditions alive.

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