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The Shotgun is key to good times

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I don't know if most folks will agree or disagree with me on this, but I have come to the conclusion, proficiency with the shotgun is what will make or break a good time on a stage.


What I offer are opinions based on my own experience, others may vary, so take this with a grain of salt.


At a recent shoot, I was shooting "just for fun." I've never been, and will likely never be, a top 10 shooter, in in truth, I always shoot, just for fun, but sometimes I like to use guns that I know slow me down.


My battery on this day consisted of the following...


Left Pistol: Colt Buntline 12" .44 Special.

Right Pistol: Colt Sherrif's Model, 3" .44 Special

Reproduction Henry: .44-40 (Normally with these pistols I would use a Win 92 chambered for .44 Magnum that I run Specials through that has a 17.5" bbl and a John Wayne loop, but I didn't have enough ammo that day.)

WW Greener Polics Single Shot Shotgun. (Think British Martini-Henry Rifle as a shotgun.)


Anyway, I had a blast shooting those crazy guns, and I was averageing times of 60 to 100 seconds.


On the second to the last stage, I had a real train wreck. The Henry jammed after 2 shots and I could not clear it, I forgot to take shotgun ammo to the line, and so forth.


Feeling rather irked, for the last stage, I "borrowed" the guns of a newbie I had brought to the match, deciding to go for better speed on the last round. I saw "borrowed" cuz his guns were technically mine.


My battery now stood as follows...


Left Pistol: Colt 4-3/4" .45

Right Pistol: ASM Clone, 5-1/2" .45

Rifle: ASM 92, 24", .45

Shotgun: Win 97 20" bbl.


Okay, I was definatley quicker with these pistols and rifle, and a lot quicker with the 97. My final time for this stage was about 45 seconds. BUT, I had 3 or 4 misses with the shotgun, and I was carrying my shotgun rounds in a bag that was troublesome to reach in to. I think that had I not missed with the shotgun, and if I had had a wider mouth pouch or a belt for the shotgun shells, I could have done that stage in about 30 seconds or so. Still not blazingly fast, but acceptable for me.


Anywhoo, thinking about this is what got me to believing that the shotgun is the key. Yes, some rifles pistols can and will be quicker than others, depending on the shooter, but there is just more that can SNAFU you with the shotgun.


As to which is quicker, 97 double or 87, well, again, I think that depends ont he shooter. However, here are some things that I think will help me to pick up a few seconds per stage. If others find this helpful, great.


1. Practice with snapcaps loading and fireing your shotgun. You will soon find the best way to do it. With the 97, I shoot left handed, and have gotten very good at literally tossing the loaded round into the chamber.


2. Have a good loop belt that it is easy to pull shells from OR if you carry in a pouch or bag, make shure it has a wide mouth and stays open.


3. Most important: Hit the targets! If you miss and have to shoot a target 3 times to make it go down, you have screwed up your time. Take that extra half second to make sure you have a proper bead on the target.


4. Pracitce with long and short barrel lengths. You may find that longer is better for you personally. Or not. But you won't know till you try.



Good luck.

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I think profiency with the SG is a key to better times because its the only firearm we load on the clock. If you can keep from fumbling, etc.....with the SG, your stage times will improve, regardless of whether you shoot an 87, 97, or SxS.


Will the SG put you in the top 10.....not by itself (IMHO). But if your nudging in the Top 10 or barely there, the SG can help keep you there, even on a lack luster day with pistols and rifle.



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It is my opinion (didn't even stay at the Holiday Inn :) ) that the shotgun can indeed make or break a stage. I shoot SKB's and on a good day I will get 2 rounds off in 2 secs or so, most of that time is loading the gun. Since I load left handed and always load two that means a missed KD just added 2 sec (or more) to my time. Throw in a dropped round or fumbled reload and time adds up quickly.


A good example of just how much difference the SG makes is - I have a pard who can flat blister the rifle and is no slouch with his pistols, much better than me with both guns but I (usually) have a better stage time because he is not quite as quick with the SG ( a 97) add an occasional mechanical difficulty and voila! you have a case of a better shooter coming in second to a not so good shooter because of one gun - the shotgun.


My suggestion is practice, practice, practice!!!

Regardless of the make of your SG the only way you will get better is to be familiar with the gun and proficient at loading it.


All the best




Gateway Kid

PS I love my shotgun and spend more time with it than any of the other guns :) I wish the standard for SG was 6-8 KD's per stage cuz I really like shooting my SKB!

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I have been reading a lot about shooting faster lately. I have to agree that there is a lot more quick improvement available with the shotgun than with either the pistols or rifle. It might take years to learn how to shoot faster, but it should only take weeks (of hard work) to learn how to load and unload faster. There is even more quick improvement available when transitioning from gun to gun.


From watching and reading Doc Shapiro, Evil Roy and Longhunter, it is pretty clear to me that most shooters can gain a lot of time by simply planning every move, keeping every move simple and smooth, and using both hands at the same time.

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Try this for a real eyeopener.

Stand behind a stage with a stop watch of simply looking at a sweep second hand.

If the scenario call for pistol pistol rifle shotgun or any other variation except shotgun first, start your timer when the last shot prior to the shotgun is fired and time until the first shotgun shot is fired.

In a lot of cases the time used making this transition is equal to or exceeds 50% of the total stage time. The better shooters cut this down by a bunch but this is still the slowest transition for most shooters.

Sounds unbelievable but try it for yourself.

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When I first started shooting a real good instructor told me you win with the shotgun and lose with the pistols. Meaning learning/average shooters seem to miss a lot with their pistols which adds a lot of time and are slow with the shotgun. Fix these two issues and times drop dramatically. The difference in times between average shooters and fast shooters is a lot less on rifle shots and a lot more on pistol and shotgun. Other than speeding up shotgun, fewer pistol misses, reducing times on transitions is very important to reduce overall times. This is the total time spent not shooting from beep to last shot. It includes all gun handling and movement other than shots. A slower shooter can speed up their times a whole lot without improving their shooting just by reducing their transition times. One transition rule is to always have both hands doing something. Putting last pistol in holster with one hand while at same time picking up rifle with second hand is a good example. Before you shoot a stage, work out what each hand does for the entire stage and stage your guns to support this plan.

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I think profiency with the SG is a key to better times because its the only firearm we load on the clock. If you can keep from fumbling, etc.....with the SG, your stage times will improve, regardless of whether you shoot an 87, 97, or SxS.


Will the SG put you in the top 10.....not by itself (IMHO). But if your nudging in the Top 10 or barely there, the SG can help keep you there, even on a lack luster day with pistols and rifle.





There's iron in Widder's words. The SG is deceptive. Folks will spend time and effort trying to SHOOT the SG fast, only to miss and add time to make em up. SHOOTING the SG is not hard if ya use yer fundamentals. Get yer head down, plaster the bead on the target and yank the loud switch. What CLEARLY is far more important than actual shooting of the SG is LOADING AND CLEARING it quickly. I've been fooling around shooting Outlaw lately, and as a consequence of shooting from the hip, have had a good bit of practice reloading the SG on the clock. After all these years, this added SG "practice" has removed any hesitation, the shells seem to be drawn fluidly into the chambers, and shuck RIGHT NOW when I clear the gun.


I'm gonna revert from Outlaw to Duelist in a month or two just to see how much time I have shaved with my newfound SG handling proficiency.


Practice LOADING and handling yer SG and yer gonna save a good bit of time.

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Becomine proficient with the shotgun certainly can reduce your stage raw times.


But the "key to good times" lies somewhere.... besides with a shotgun.



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It takes a lot of work and tuning to cut pistol- or rifle-time in half for a new shooter. Cutting SG time in half can be simple practice to built muscle memory and add a huge amoutn of confidence, but you cannot go so fast with the SG that you do not aim.

Very simple steps that saved me time with the SG:

1- Have a dependable SG (not a lot of tuning required, very critical with '87s and '97s)

2- Shot practical loads (Remington STS or Gunclubs)

3- Have a usable, robust shell belt (not many winners use sliders)

4- Practice with snap caps (no firing required)

5- Load with the butt against the shoulder (very few new shooters get this one right)

6- Plan your stage well

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I've never won side matches much, It don't make no difference. I don't miss SG in a match that offen! Alota times I don't have splits in that match between shots but thats 12 years of tha same SG. My rifle is where my living comes from. Tha pistols hold there own. If ya gotta make up time tha rifle is where I make tha call. If everythings right with your smith tha rifle will be there waiting on you.




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Shotgun is a major key for sure when I first got started I was talkin to Evil Roy he said you needed to shoot shotgun in 4 seconds or less(4 shots),so between dry firing & live fire practice I was able to shoot 4 seconds or less it really moved me up the ladder fast being able to do that for sure ,but you still have to shoot your other guns rock solid and really move between guns as others have said transitions are key and you cant miss.Of course 4 seconds doesn't pertain to every catergory but a good friend of mine who is a elderstatesman really does well usually winning his catergory and also doing really well overall he can shoot his '97 a little over 5 seconds pretty regular.The top guys are shooting sub 3 sec on world record sight,probaly around 3.5 during a match.


so I agree



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Well Lizards are at the bottom of the food chain...Just showing up and shooting good enough for me...Top ten for me just means there was only ten of us to begin with...Shooting clean is my goal or darn close to it...And doing it till they is throwing dirt on me...


Texas Lizard

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Agree, SG is major factor, but as mentioned, a SG fumble or makeup can put you right there with the fellow whom you normally beat by 2-3 seconds.


I used to practice speed shotgun starting at the usual sidematch port arms. I got were I could fairly easily run four in less than four. A year or so ago I came to the conclusion that I was spending for to much time on this practice just for a side match win when main match tme is the most important issue. I then started limiting my "side match SG" pratice and starting spending more time moving to SG, picking up from different heights, and I also now practice moving with shotgun to make shots and even starting from shoulder (as in start with SG at ready (both hands on gun or maybe two rounds at ready near chambers).


Bottomline, SG CAN play a very winning part of stage time. I have proved it to myself in a one-on-one where two handed shooter was a fraction ahead of me then I get them when stage ended with shotgun.

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The shotgun can indeed pay great dividends to your score.

But make no mistake.

Contrary to the oft qouted line that shotguns win matches, they do not.

Nor does the rifle or your pistols for that matter - They can all individually lose you a match, but they cannot individually win you a match.


One of the things that drew me to CAS was the fact that you had to be good with ALL three types of guns to have any chance to place well.


But I don't know that firearms speed is really the key to good times.

In my admittedly mid pack view, transistions will often rule the day.

Don't believe me?

Take a look at a major matches side match results.

There might be a few shooters head and shoulders over the rest, but mostly, you see lots of shooters times stacked right on top of each other.

Pick a few - add their rifle/ pistol/ shotgun times together.

When you get three or four of them that their three gun times are basically the same, then take a look at the overall results.


Sure everyone bobbles or has a miss - but usually these shooters that were so close in firearm speed are spread by vast differences in their match times.

Those differences are "usually" the shooters transitions skills coming to the forefront.


I use a timer - I know exactly how fast I can run 10 out of the pistols, or dump 10 from the rifle or cycle 4 thru my shotgun.

And my times don't vary that much, my runs are pretty repeatable - so if I am to gain time, it has to be on how fast I get rid of one gun and get to the next. Focusing on this has gained me significant time when it has felt like my gun speed improvements have halted.

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