Give Trap Shooting a Shot
Pointing my shotgun downrange and just over the top right corner of the low, dark trap house, I called for the bird from my position on station No. 5. The frigid breeze that had been swirling about all morning had died, and the air was calm and still. Perfect conditions for shooting this game.
The fluorescent-green clay shot out of the house at a hard right angle and lifted skyward.
I managed to track the bird and cover it as it climbed. Then, as the muzzle swung through, my finger hit the trigger. Recoil slammed the gun back into my shoulder, and the clay disappeared into a mist of tiny shards. Shaking my head and exhaling sharply, I ejected the empty shell and reached into my pouch for another.
Last week, five rockfish over 40 inches were weighed in at Angler’s Sport Center. Light-tackle anglers are reporting smaller schoolies around the Bay Bridge. Boats trolling the deeper channels with large baits are encountering the bigger, wintertime fish. Trollers bottom-bouncing with small bucktails off heavy sinkers are getting limits of keepers some days, though the fish are rarely over 24 inches.
Whitetail and sika deer, firearms: thru Dec. 8
The next shooter smashed his target, as did the next and the next. Quickly it came my turn again. This time, though the clay was not nearly as difficult as the first, it flew off untouched toward the horizon. There seemed no reason for the miss. I felt I had pointed the clay correctly. Concentrating harder on my next target as it came my turn again, I followed it carefully in its arc, swung through and shot. Another miss.
Frustration welled up as I silently decried my lack of practice over the past year. Then my personal wing shooting mantra eased back into my head: The next best thing to shooting and hitting ’em is shooting and missing. It’s all a great experience.
Friend Mo Klein and I were competing in a Winter League Trap Shoot at Three Rivers Sportsmen’s Club in Harwood on a late-November Sunday. Located only 15 minutes or so from Annapolis, the club was formed some 65 years ago and has been meeting ever since.
With two trap ranges overlooking a wooded, steeply descending hillside, the targets can get challenging on a windy day. Today we had excellent conditions, still winds, a slight overcast and almost 50-degree temperature. None of it did me any good.
Last year’s mild winter had seduced me into fishing, uninterrupted, virtually the whole of 2011 into 2012. I sorely neglected my wing-shooting skills. Now I was paying the price. Of course I wasn’t the only one. Lots of targets were flying off untouched.
Poor scores were claimed sheepishly but with an edge of amusement by shooters and quickly explained away as just a bad day; next week was sure to be better. High scores were met with all around admiration and a quiet feeling that on any given day, any one of those on hand might attain the same level of perfection.
Trapshooting is a fine recreational sport that the whole family can enjoy. There were a number of women that day as well as a few youngsters whose scores rivaled anyone’s there. It is satisfying, relatively inexpensive (a round of trap with 25 targets costs about $10, including shells) and one of the few things that can still be done casually outdoors, even on a blustery winter’s day.
After completing the 50-target-course, shooters gathered in the warm clubhouse to compare notes and avail themselves of a hot bowl of soup or one of the delicious grilled sandwiches, cakes or pies offered up by the charming cook (and ardent competitor) Carolyn Swann.
Jim Riddle, the current president of the club, together with Gloria McNalley, who has shepherded members’ activities and handled club finances for over 40 years, welcome members and the public to enjoy the benefits of the organization.
Trap practice shooting is regularly held on Thursday evenings 6-10pm with competitive shoots on Sundays and other days as scheduled.
Information: 410-867-1400; Threeriverssportsmen.com includes a virtual shooting link to give you a feel for the sport.