Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sorcery & "The Wand"..

If I had a nickle for every time I heard a diminutive, lightweight birdgun referred to as a "wand", and invested those many thousands of accumulated nickles with Bernie Madoff, today I'd have about 3 cents...

Whenever I hear a shotgun described by it's owner as "a wand in his (or her) hands,", the first thought that comes to mind is that it is too light for said owner to shoot effectively. And while this is not true in all cases, I find it to be the rule in most.
Like Glynda, the wand can be used for good, but I find it more like Merlin's magic wand, wielded as a tool by the Antichrist... Now, this is not to assume that those few talented folks who can weild these wands with precision have made a pact with the devil, but I sometimes wonder what entity has imparted the discipline to these tortured souls that I so sorely lack...

I've had the pleasure of witnessing Andrew of The Regal Vizsla crush targets with his sub 6 lb. birdgun with authority, and I've got a buddy that can run straights on the Skeet field with his pretty little Model 42 Field gun, lacking the bulbous Cutts compensator that added forward weight and discipline for the average shooter. This little 42 is all original, except for the Simmons vent rib, and looks like the day it left the factory!

All in all, it takes alot of practice, and just maybe some practice of the Black Arts, to point these lightweight birdguns with the form needed to score... In facing the truth, I possess neither, and therefore arm myself with shotguns with a little more weight, and weight forward in particular to mask my mediocre style...

Anyone know where these "pacts" I hear so much about can be signed up for??

For more definitions of shotgunning adjectives, visit Cold Duck to see what my friend Michael has to say on this subject.. Scroll down to the post of December 3rd, "Why there are no paid Advertisements at Cold Duck" and read some of Michael's wisdom..

Enjoy the weekend...


  1. I think most of us at some point, read an article on upland shooting, particularly one about Ruffed Grouse Shooting, where the virtues of an a light weight gun are praised.
    The funny thing is, for most Ruffed Grouse shooting, the twitchy, short barrelled featherweight works in many cases.
    Then when our hero gets into a flight of woodcock and the dog is going crazy, he wonders what woodland gremlin has jinxed him and caused him to miss 17 straight woodock in 31 minutes.
    I believe the answer is that Grouse, when flushed at close range as they often are, and when they are visible, are relatively easy targets. They don't get a lot of speed until they are well off the ground and then are often out of sight. Since most of these initial launch type shots are at a slow target at close range, a well balanced arm is of no real advantage but a muzzle-light, and quick handling one is. Speed in getting on target, trumps acuuracy in these instances.
    Take that same gun and use it on woodcock, which often don't offer a shot until they level out (like quail) and the poke and hope gun, loses its' luster.
    In a recent conversation with Michael McIntosh, I asked him where he likes a game gun to balance: He told me around 2 7/8" in front of the breech face.
    So Bill, it sounds like you are in pretty good company.
    With practice, worst handicaps than a poorly balanced gun can be overcome but it doesn't change the fact that it is still a handicap.

  2. Very insightful, Lee!

    "Poke and pray" never worked for me... I can watch the muzzle doing figure eights all around the intended target, as i try to get my recalcitrant muscles to perform what my slower than normal brain commands! A good part of the reason why I've got at least one shotgun that shall remain in the safe until I give it away, or someone inherits it!
    Poor thing, it's starting to wilt from never seeing the light of day!

  3. Bill, my 16 gauge Parker works okay on grouse and early season woodcock bBut it is way too whippy to use on anything else. It is the nicest gun I own, actually and has much sentimental value.
    I noticed in the most recent issue of Shooting Sportsman, for $50,
    John Bugden
    Will make you a leather handguard for a double in any guage with integral weights to rbablce your gun, adding up to 1/2 lb in a 16 or 20 gauge, if needed. I could put up with a bit more weight once in a while to have a more shootable gun when needed.
    I am seriously considering this option.

  4. Bill, I think I got my posting probelm solved. Updated my operating system and browser software and I see my name in the "Comment as" list now. Anyway:

    Poke and hope is my only shooting method. But, a few years ago I shot a friend's Citori Upland Special and all of a sudden I was hitting birds. Part of that, I'm sure, is that it fits me better than the L.C. I was using for the previous 18 years (they're the only upland guns I own). But, while it's not light, it also has 24 inch barrels. I'm convinced that's why it works for me. I can see over those barrels so much better and have that "speed in getting on target" that Lee mentions. Now I'm hitting grouse much better than ever. But I'm hitting woodock like crazy with it, too. Anyway, this is just my long-winded way of leading up to the question - Is it just that I found a gun that fits me, and has more open chokes or do short barrels confer an advantage in upland shooting? If so, why?

  5. Bill: correct. Sadly no Black Arts but it was a pact with the devil. Incidentally, the gun Bill is kindly referring to is a Webley & Scott 20ga... but it weighs 5lbs even. The reason I can shoot it well from time to time is the reason I bought it... 30" barrels. Now, if you don't concentrate on your mount, you'll still miss the easiest going away grouse with both barrels. But that's another story.

    Dave: to volunteer one answer your question: I think fit + chokes are two factors. All other things being equal, you should shoot better with a longer barreled gun (because it has a longer sight plane for your eye). Whatever it is, glad you're having fun and shooting well with it.