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Sunday, June 15. 2014
During the summer of 1971, after I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, it was time to get ready for the opening of dove Season on September 1. At the time, way out north on Scottsdale Road, there was a trap shooting facility, The Shot Yard, and I carted my shooting age family out to hone our skills for the upcoming bird season.
The proprietor of The Shot Yard happened to be from Houston, and when he was in Houston had been a salesman for another large computer company. We had shared several accounts competitively and I had scored some significant wins against him. He changed professions.
We were a motley crew lining up to shoot with the “pros”, but as we prepared for the upcoming season, it soon became clear to me, my, 12 year old, son, Brad, and my former wife that we had stumbled upon a family sport. We were smoking the clay birds with regularity and the misses, became few and far between.
Our first dove season in Arizona was a resounding success, helped along by our trap shooting practice. Randy, age 8 and Suzanne, age 4, served as “fetchers”, but Suzanne could never learn to pull off the downed dove’s head.
Soon after dove season ended, quail season started, and my love affair with Quail hunting reached passionate heights. The first Gambel quail that I shot is mounted and displayed on the gun cabinet on our old ranch house. It has held up remarkedly well with 2, cross country, and 5 in state moves.
I well remember the shot on the first quail, a long one, in the Salt River bottom, west of Phoenix. One feather came fluttering down, the bird kept flying, and plop, fell to the ground with one shot pellet having entered under its right wing and pierced its heart.
Too soon, quail season ended but in early 1972, The Shot Yard’s proprietor, talked us into entering a competitive trap shoot he was holding. For the family’s first go at trap shooting, we did well and quickly became “hooked”.
My first win at a trap tournament was in May of 1972 in Show Low, Arizona where, to determine the winner, I was involved in a four person, “shoot-off”. Feeling nerves, but taking my station on the line, and turning up my concentration, I was able to hit five straight clay pigeons while my opponents fell out, one by one. One added bonus, my mother, Ruth Bryan, was visiting my family in Arizona and she was able to watch this shoot and watch my win in the “shoot-off”.
Being the last man standing meant victory and as a trophy a very nice Nambe Ware salad bowl set, a winner’s check for $200.00 and over $200.00 more for winning the Calcuttta. Since none of the experienced shooters knew me I “bought” myself for $2.00. As the years went by it became extremely difficult for me to purchase myself in the Calcuttas. If another shooter or spectator bought me he would win eighty percent of the pot and me, the shooter, would only get twenty.
By the fall on 1973, Brad and my ex were state champions in their respective classes and I had moved to the number 2 spot in the statewide rankings of handicap shooters. In handicap shooting, the shooters are classed by yardage from 18 to 27 yards, depending on individual skill and past wins. Small purses were paid for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes, but the “big money” was won in the Calcuttas!
What started as a “tune-up” for dove season, had now become an avocation for my family, but again, my day job interfered with it.
Sometimes a good day job can really interfere with your avocation
Posted by Jon Bryan in Shooting at 16:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, March 10. 2012
Unceremoniously finishing my practice birds, 5 more shooters, then the real shoot would start. Getting to watch some very good shooting, I picked up some useful pointers. Donâ€™t be glued to the middle of the shooting area. Change your position once the colombaire says â€œListoâ€ and he canâ€™t change his. Your initial aim point is the center of the middle rope. Block out the colombaireâ€™s movements and just watch the bird. Keep both eyes open and concentrate on the pigeon. And a truism of all wing shooting, swing through your shot, donâ€™t stop your swing until the bird is hit and always be ready for a second shot!
My turn came up as the lady in front of me finished with the lead having knocked down 7 out of 10 birds thrown. Being nervous, I took a half breath, walked to my position and looked the colombaire in the eye. His lips moved, but with ear protectors on and being hard of hearing from too much shooting without them, I heard nothing. I told him to speak louder and he smiled and said â€œListo.â€ â€œPull,â€ I answered and the bird sailed over the rope and dove to the ground and Pow, Pow, I missed both shots!
After the miss my nerves were gone and I hit 8 straight birds including a long, long shot of over 75 yards with the bird falling just inside of the flags. Concentrating completely, being deaf and having ear protectors on I could only hear the â€œListoesâ€. But Brad told me later that I really had all of the other shooters attention. â€œWho is that guy with the wide shoulders?â€ â€œ I have never seen him shoot before.â€ â€œThat old guy can really shoot!â€ â€œWhat a long shot!â€ The crowd murmured.
On my last bird, 9 of 10 should win the shoot for sure, the colombaire stood right in front of me, smiled and said, â€œListoâ€, I moved 2 side shuffles to my left, clearing him, he took 2 spins forward as if to release the bird like a discuss, then of all things, released it behind his back. The bird was flying between the colombaire and me, and Iâ€™m completely faked out, in the wrong position to shoot a hard right bird and Pow, Pow, 2 feeble misses. The colombaire then did something I had not seen him do with the other shooters, he came toward me, held out his hand, and smiled saying, â€œGood Shooting.â€ Everyone was patting me on the back, shaking my hand and congratulating me, but I was worried that one of the last 5 shooters would tie or beat me.
The last 4 shooters had sixes and sevens and, as in all good stories, the last shooter a young man probably in his mid twenties, and sporting an old, beat up, 12 gauge, pump, tied me. He missed his first bird, then shot seven in a row, missed number 9 and hit an easy straight away for 8. We tied and to determine the winner, a shoot off was needed.
Having come to the shoot to support Brad, I found myself in a shoot off for the championship. This wasnâ€™t planned, but I would definitely do my best. The colombaire was primed to make both of us work hard for the victory. While he paced around in the throwing area, he was getting the bird ready, pulling tail feathers out and swinging it around,. We both missed the first 2 birds, our colombaire stepping up the level of his throws. Shooting first, I nailed a low bird right past the rope and my opponent hit a high, climber. I got a discuss type, behind the back bird to my right and dusted it on the first shot, but hit it square on the second and my opponent hits on his second shot also.
Still tied, I moved to the shooters position, and the colombaire was smiling and pulling tail feathers out. Iâ€™ve seen everything he has I thought, so he spun and released the bird with his right hand, a hard left one and I hadnâ€™t seen that! Pow, Pow, I missed. My opponent won the shoot with an easy climber. My young opponent was the best shooter that day. Second place still paid handsomely, but I donated my winnings to Jubalee Junction!
However, second guessing, I think that if I had hit the hard left bird, our colombaire would have pulled one of his tricks on my opponent. Who knows?
Posted by Jon Bryan in Shooting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, March 7. 2012
Right in front of me the colombaire yelled, â€œListoâ€, he was a man around 50 years old, left handed, with all the moves of a baseball pitcher, which professionally he was in his youth. Nervously answering, â€œPullâ€, he overhanded a pigeon right in front of me, it darted low, he hit the ground, and with too much movement in front of me, I shot 2 holes in the sky, completely missing the bird. What an inauspicious start to my first pigeon shoot!
Brad got 3 practice birds and moved into the shooters area, shouldering his shotgun, â€œListo,â€ said the thrower and Brad countered, â€œPullâ€, the bird rocketed over the rope climbing for all it is worth. Pow! The bird folded and Pow, Brad discharged the second shot. Again, a shooter gets two shots to hit the bird and if successful on the first, must discharge the second into the air.
To be continued on March 10th.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Shooting at 17:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, October 31. 2009
During the late summer of 1971, while we were out of town, my trusty Winchester, Model 12, twelve gauge pump with a modified barrel, that I had shot for over twenty years, along with all of my other guns, a new Sony TV that I won in a sales manager's contest and my brand new Buick Electra 225, were stolen.Â What really upset me was that the thieves took my Dadâ€™s Fox, sixteen gauge, side by side.Â Many times I have wished that I had that old one back!
The car was found undamaged the next week, but nothing else was ever recovered.Â The police told me that my guns went to Mexico and that someone in Arizona (probably) got a real good Sony TV!My insurance settlement, received in early fall, was quite generous and I headed to Oshmanâ€™s in Scottsdale to restock my weapons.Â Having become interested in trap shooting, my first purchase was a Remington 870, twelve gauge, with a trap barrel and ventilated rib.Â This shotgun served me very well over the five years that I shot competitive trap and it was also a deadly weapon on ducks and geese!
But, if I had been real smart I would have invested in a Perotzzi trap gun!Â Laughingly, I say that, but I was never a good shot with a trap gun.Â The stocks high comb, and me being blessed with a short neck and arms, precluded me from getting my head satisfactorily down on the stock.Â A simple lengthening of my 870â€™s stock was all it took to give me the correct sight picture for trap shooting.
As soon as we moved to Arizona, we started seeing Gambel quail and our roamings in the foothills and the deserts only showed us more of these remarkable, little runners.Â This led to my second purchase, a Remington 870, twenty gauge, pump with a ventilated rib and skeet barrel that I shot for over thirty-five years.
However, not planning to shoot skeet, this shotgun, shooting â€œheavyâ€ one ounce, reloads of seven and a halfs or eights, chalked up amazing numbers of quail and doves.Â One afternoon in Mexico, using the twenty gauge, pump, I shot one hundred white wings with one hundred twenty-nine shells!Â On the skeet field it was equally impressive, helping me to shoot many twenty-fives European style.Â My Son, Randy, has this gun now.
I donâ€™t think that I was a â€œnaturalâ€ shooter although in the Army I shot Expert with the M-1 Garand and M-2 Carbine.Â Probably friendly pasters!Â But I did learn early on that if youâ€™re going to be a good, competitive shooter, you had to practice regularly.Â This practice carries over into the field, helps in judging shot distances and reinforces correct shooting techniques â€“ see the proper sight picture whether you track, lead or swing on the target, keep your head down on the stock, keep swinging after you shoot and pretty soon the hits will really start to add up whether youâ€™re shooting clay or real birds.
In 1975 returning to Arizona on a business trip, I found out what befell the thieves that broke into my house and stole my stuff and how they were finally apprehended.Â Their â€œbusinessâ€ was so good they had opened a used furniture store on Indian School Road in east Phoenix and of course much of the stock was stolen goods.
They had just committed another home robbery taking a TV and some guns. Of all things, the latest victim showed up in their used furniture store looking for a TV to replace the one these guys had just stolen.Â Spotting one just like his, he looked a little closer and saw his Social Security number that he had engraved on the back. He left the store without a purchase, went to the police and thus ended the careers of a vicious gang of thieves.
Their store closed too, but they had a get your stuff sale, not a going out of business sale!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Shooting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, October 11. 2009
My last trap shoot was in 1975, at the Moccasin Bend Trap Club, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and we decided to make a family weekend out of it. The family piled into our camper and we took the leisurely two hour, drive from Sandy Springs, Georgia to Chattanooga and checked into the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, a real neat hotel converted from a bunch of old sleeper cars, complete with a dining car. The kids still talk about it.
We visited â€œSee Ruby Fallsâ€, as advertised on barn tops along the freeway and I hated the elevator ride down to the falls; the Incline Railway, Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Chickamauga, the site of the largest battle fought in the western theatre during our Civil War.
Sunday morning found us on the way to the gun club and I was going to surprise the â€œgood â€˜ole boysâ€ in Tennessee. Being a real â€œhotâ€ shooter out west, but not known east of the Mississippi, I â€œboughtâ€ myself in the Calcutta for the minimum amount, a whopping $3.00.
The featured event was the handicap shoot and I was placed with the long yardage shooters.Â As is said in trap shooting circles, â€œI was smokinâ€™ â€˜em.â€Â Walking to the last station and leading the shoot with only two misses out of ninety-five clay birds, the thought of my potential winnings, Over $1,000.00 flashed through my mind.Â Quickly pushing the errant thought out, my concentration returned. And I barked, â€œPull!â€
The clay pigeon wobbled out of the trap machine, an easy, hard right bird, that I swung on, led and pulled the trigger; no bam, no ignition of the shell, nothing but a fluttering clay bird floating to the ground. The puller/ scorekeeper called out â€œlost birdâ€ with me just looking funny at my trusty trap model shotgun.
A quick inspection told me that the trigger mechanism had failed.Â I had five minutes to fix the trigger, or get another gun, otherwise I would be disqualified and my only option was to get my ex-wifeâ€™s automatic, with a shortened stock.
Missing three out of the last five clays and finishing second, which paid $200.00, plus another $150.00 from the Calcutta, I thought, so much for a big â€œhitâ€!Â Â At least we paid for our weekend!
After this shoot, with my day job requiring so much of my time, and my kids being active in sports, at a very young age I retired myself from competitive shooting.Â As I have mentioned before, â€œSometimes a good day job can really interfere with your avocation.â€
Posted by Jon Bryan in Shooting at 07:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, February 19. 2009
I was reading â€œThe Best Of Nash Buckinghamâ€, by George Bird Evans and came across Nash and his friends using 10 gauge, W & C Scott And Sons, shotguns on ducks and geese in Mississippi and Arkansas.Â Around the turn of the 20th century, when he was a boy, if the owner of one of these prized guns wasnâ€™t using it, Nash laid claim to it.Â The adult members of their exclusive shooting club, Beaver Dam Duck Club, preferred the large charges, 4 drams of powder and 1-Â¼ ounces of number 4 shot, that these big bore, 10â€™s propelled at their quarry.
Now for the rest of the story!
When I was a mere lad in high school, I traded a throwing knife to one of my friends for an old shotgun, a Damascus barrel, 10, gauge with a gold shield inlaid into theÂ comb of the stock.Â The gun was in good condition except that it had a severely broken stock right where the action joined. My friend said that he thought someone had been hit with it.Â Into the closet at my Momâ€™ and Dadâ€™s it went for 20 years until I moved to Arizona.
Having a real good job and some extra money, before I left I took the stock to a local gun shop that specialized in repairing antique fire arms. And, for safekeeping, I took the shotgun, sans stock, to my brother-in-law, Jim.Â Â With the owner mentioning what a pretty piece of wood it was, I left it with him and told him that I would call in about a month. Â
That month turned into 5 and when I went back to Houston, I stopped by the shop and was greeted by a vacant building.Â One call to another gun shop and I found out that the proprietor had died and creditors claimed the inventory. Â
For the next 35 years the old, shotgun slipped my mind, until Jim died and his wife asked me if I knew anything about the old shotgun without a stock?Â The memories of the original trade, leaving the gun, taking the stock to be fixed and the shop being vacated, flooded through my mind.Â â€œYes, I certainly remember my old gun!â€
Brad, who is an excellent gunsmith, picked up the gun for me and said he could get another stock for it and fix the trigger sear.Â Over the years the trigger sear had been broken, probably from the original wallop.Â Brad, really doing a great job, added a newÂ stock and he alsoÂ machined a new sear and then theÂ old gun went up on my ranch house, wall.
We knew the gun was a 10 gauge, W.& C. Scott And Sons, shotgun and the mention of one like it in the book, spurred me to get it down and take a closer look.
Sure enough, the underside of the barrel shows that the gun is a 10 gauge and can safely handle 4 drams of powder and throw out 1-1/4 ounces of shot, just like Nash mentioned.
The serial number is 6492 and the gun, a very low serial number one, since the numbers ran into the 60,000's, was a Premier Model, probably built around 1890 and it has over 50 percent of the â€œbrownâ€ still on it.Â Back then guns werenâ€™t blued.
Except for the barrels and stock, the gun is covered with beautiful engraving.Â The receiver frame, trigger guard, hammers, sight ramp and even the release mechanism on the fore end are covered with the etchings.Â This along with the â€œflowerlyâ€ shapes of the wrapped steel, better known as, Damascus, barrels give the old shotgun loads of appeal.
The W & C Scott And Sons, 10 gauge, graces the wall in my ranch house eagerly awaiting a call to service that will never come, the twist steel barrels are just too risky to chance, but it is a great conversation piece â€“ Almost A Relic!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Shooting at 08:05 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, October 22. 2008
October 15, 1973, was on a Wednesday and around 11:00 AM, I stopped by Bradâ€™s school, Cocopah Middle/Elementary School and told the Principal that Brad had a doctors appointment that afternoon and he wouldnâ€™t be back.Â It was an easy OK for the principal, one less kid to worry about.Â At the time, Cocopah, besides being an open school and unbelievably noisy, was the largest school of its type in the U.S., with over 3,000 students.
Bradâ€™s doctorâ€™s appointment was really a Quail hunt on the southern slopes of Sombrero Peak, two hours northeast of our home.Â Jake Schroder and Candy and Ned, his Brittanies, accompanied us.Â The week before, during one of our quests for Indian artifacts, we had scouted this place and knew it would really pay off!
It was hot, well over 100, as we parked our 4WD truck, unloaded Candy, Ned and Rooster (my Brittany), on a road that overlooked a mile long sloping hill that ran toward the upper part of Tonto Basin and within a hundred yards the dogs were down on a hard point.Â The three of us walked in, up came the Gambels and our guns erupted, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam and 5 birds fell. Â
We held our ground as the dogs ran down the cripples, and then moved ahead for the next covey. This scenario was repeated 6 times and by sundown we had 3 limits of Gambel Quail.Â The coveys were huge, 50 to 100 birds each, and even after chasing the singles and taking 45 birds out, there were still over 400 left for later!Â Â The dogs and all 3 of us were worn out, but what a great hunt!
On the way home, Brad told me, â€œDad, this was a lot more â€˜funnerâ€™ than school!â€
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, September 14. 2008
By mid September, the Katy Prairie had dried out from the summerâ€™s deluge and opening day of the south zone, Dove season found Bob Baugh and I, on the Katy Prairie, sweating and squatting down under 2 mesquite trees, by a feed pen, waiting for the afternoon flight of birds.Â Our wait was a short one and soon we were covered up with darting, diving Doves.
Dove hunting on the Katy Prairie was spotty at the best.Â The birds donâ€™t hold to one spot very well.Â Hunting pressure quickly forces them to other food and water spots on the immense prairie. But the birds stuck around for that afternoonâ€™s hunt! Â
We continued sweating in the 90 plus temperature and continued shooting, until our gun barrels were hot.Â Since the prairie was well policed by wardens, we stopped shooting 10 minutes early.
By quitting time we each had near limits and cleaning the Doves, we remarked that this was going to be a good lease, especially since it was only 20 minutes from each of our houses!
Bob and I are cleaning everyoneâ€™s doves!Â Donâ€™t we look happy?
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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