Don’t call me surly!



James breaking a clay on the trap range.

I got out to the Stittsville Shooting Ranges with my new friend and hunting buddy James Burnside. We met at the range at noon; it was our first meeting in person. I like to go to the range with new hunting buddies to get acquainted. I like to see how they conduct themselves on the shooting range and show them that I am experienced and safety-conscious in handling firearms. I went to sign in, pay for four rounds of skeet shooting, and purchase four boxes of 20 gauge ammunition. I brought my Franchi Instinct SL in 20 gauge. I had the skeet and skeet choke tubes installed. James went to his car to retrieve his Remington 870 Express pump-action gun in 12 gauge. The skeet range was free so, we walked on to the field with our shotguns, ammunition, and my camcorder on its tripod. As I placed my gun on the rack next to the first shooting station, James advised me that a man standing with a couple of his shooting buddies had concerns about the camcorder.

The man called to me in an accusatory tone, telling me I was not to film people without their permission. His attitude took me by surprise. I spent a lot of time over the years shooting skeet, sporting clays, and trap at the Stittsville Shooting Ranges. I took many still photos with my camera and some video with my camcorders while shooting at the range. The Stittsville Shooting Ranges rules allow for photography. The rules state in part, “The use of cameras is allowed on the range, we ask that you please be aware when posting pictures and videos on social media. Photos and videos should only be taken from safe angles and only with the consent of the shooter.” I take care when taking still photos and videos at the range to respect the rights of other shooters.

The man and his buddies came to join James and me for a round of skeet shooting. He persisted with his surly tone, berating me for bringing my camcorder on the field. I calmly replied that I brought my camera so I could get some footage of my young friend (James) and me shooting skeet. I told him that the camera would only be turned on and trained on James and myself. With the surly man placated, the range employee who pulled for us started in on me; he asked if I had sought permission from the staff in the gun shop to use my camera. He is not familiar with the rules concerning photography on the shooting ranges. I stood my ground, and when the employee asked for what reason I wanted to take videos of James and I shooting, I told him it is for my YouTube Channel. With the drama over my camcorder settled James and I, the surly man, and his friends got on with our rounds of skeet shooting.

Alas, the drama continued. Both James and I had problems with the triggers on our shotguns as we tried to shoot our rounds of skeet. When I tried to shoot doubles on the skeet range the second barrel on my Franchi failed to fire. The second barrel was unable to fire on several tries. James had the trigger fail to reset when he worked the pump on his Remington 870. The man pulling for us on the skeet range suggested I might be mounting the Franchi improperly. He indicated that the inertia trigger failed because I held the gun too loosely. I doubted this was the cause as I used the gun on the field and the range since I bought it in the summer of 2016. I did have the safety catch adjusted by Jason Spencer, the proprietor of Gunco, as the safety catch was sticky when I bought the gun. My thumb kept slipping off the catch when I tried to disengage it. I completed my rounds of skeet shooting in spite of the problems with the trigger.

James brought more than one shotgun with him as he shot both skeet and trap. I brought my Browning skeet gun, a 12 gauge over and under with 26-inch barrels, and choked skeet and skeet. I brought the skeet gun so James could try it out. When the trigger on his Remington 870 failed to reset, he tried my skeet gun. He shot very well with the skeet gun and enjoyed himself. James has the knowledge and skill to take apart and maintain the trigger mechanism on his guns. He checked out the trigger mechanism on his Remington 870 later at home and found nothing wrong. He tested the trigger mechanism and found the issue had resolved itself. I took my Franchi to Gunco for Jason Spencer to check out. Jason dry fired the gun and found it in working order. He pointed out that you have to release the trigger between shots for it to reset. It may be that I gripped the trigger too tightly while shooting skeet with James at the range. I left the Franchi with Jason Spencer to check out to be sure there is no other issue with the inertia trigger.

James shot two rounds on the trap range. Trapshooting is good practice for duck and goose hunting–at least I think so. You shoot clays at longer distances than on the skeet range. You use a tighter choke–typically full choke–and the clays are launched randomly at different angles from the shooter. James shot one round of trap on his own and the second as a group of five shooters. James shot very well on the trap range. I look forward to taking him duck and goose hunting this season. Among the five shooters on the trap range was a14-year old boy shooting with a new shotgun. I do not remember the make and model of the gun, just that the boy’s father told me the gun is a birthday present from the boy’s grandfather. It is great to see young people taking up the shooting sports.

We ended our session at the Stittsville Shooting Ranges, shooting a round of skeet with my Franchi. James paid for an additional round of skeet and purchased a box of 20 gauge ammunition. We took turns shooting with my Franchi; this was the first time James shot with a 20 gauge shotgun. Despite the dramas with the man with the surly tone and the triggers not working correctly, James and I had a good time shooting together. I feel more confident about taking to the field this season and hope that James and I are in for a good season in the uplands and on the marsh.

Posted by Geoffrey

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