March/April 2020

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Editor’s Note by Ralph Stuart
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We’ve all seen the videos on YouTube:

clips of unsuspecting people being pounded by the recoil of guns that are too powerful for them or that are being held incorrectly. Typically, the shooters are sent stumbling backward, sometimes even winding up on their derrières. Hardy, har, har.

I cringe every time I see one of these shorts, imagining not only the bruised arms and egos, but also the damage being done to the victims’ confidence. Even worse is that often the “fall guys” are new shooters or people picking up guns for the first time—and often they are women and children.

The odd thing is that those doing the filming are most times experienced shooters who know what’s coming. They don’t seem to realize that for the sake of a few “views,” they likely are ruining a potential shooter—possibly even a lifelong shooting partner.

I’m hopeful that few Shooting Sportsman readers would pull such stunts. These days we’re all well aware of how important it is to bring new shooters into the fold. And just like the proper way to introduce a young dog to gunfire is not to stake it out at the range, the best way to introduce someone to shooting is not to simply hand him or her a loaded gun and say, “Have at it.” A proper introduction must be thorough and methodical, with every precaution taken to ensure safety and success. And fun!

Spring is one of the best times to introduce someone to shooting. Warming weather has people itching to get outside, and the adventurous among them might be willing to try a new sport.

Of course, not all of us are born instructors, and there are nuances to teaching that can mean the difference between a frustrating first experience and hooking someone for life. With that in mind, we asked professional shooting instructor Marty Fischer for advice on working with new shooters. The resulting article—“Proper Introductions” (p. 48)—is a manual of sorts for helping first-timers.

This feature plays into the general theme of the March/April issue—clay shooting—with other target-oriented pieces including coverage of shooting gear, Bruce Buck’s review of Beretta’s 694 Sporting and Chris Batha’s column on the PC version of live-pigeon shooting: Helice. It is a celebration of breaking clays and encouragement for readers to head to the range to dust some targets . . . and recruit new shooters to join them.

Ralph P. Stuart

Proper Introductions

A blueprint for bringing on clay shooters

By Marty Fischer

Heaven on Horseback

Riding the high prairie behind bird dogs

By Keith Crowley

Anglicizing a Sterlingworth

Customizing a Fox with English flair

By Dewey Vicknair

Prairie Rhymes

Timothy Murphy: bird hunting’s (should-be) poet laureate

By Tom Davis


From the Editor

The right way to recruit new shooters.


Missing sandgrouse, a strange event, a Westley Richards fan and more

The Opener

When lesser prairie chickens square off

Game & Gun Gazette

The 2020 Readers & Writers Adventures, West Nile update, a world-record clay shoot, etc.

Gun Review

The Beretta 694 Sporting

By Bruce Buck

Field Gear

Items for helping crush more clays

By The Editors

Going Public

The Iowa Habitat & Access Program

By Tom Davis

Going Places

Mixed-bag hunting at Oregon’s Ruggs Ranch

By Scott Linden

To the Point

Remembering an unforgetable character named “Red”

By Tom Huggler


Great advice for the sporting life

Gear Guide

Top vests for taking targets

By Ralph Stuart


The challenging sport of Helice

By Chris Batha

Shot Talk

Answering readers’ questions

By Tom Roster

Hunting Dogs

Tips for hunting over other people’s dogs

By Reid Bryant


A current assessment of the Light Goose Conservation Order

By E. Donnall Thomas jr.

On the cover: Firestick Mad Capper (“Cap”) retrieving a snow goose (see p. 44). Photograph by Lee Thomas Kjos.

Additional photos: Keith Crowley; Gary Kramer; Courtesy of Beretta USA

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