Monday, December 8, 2014

Pass It Up or Pass It On

by Shari LeGate

There’s a huge influx going on right now. One that hasn’t gone unnoticed — the growth of women in the shooting sports. Just recently, a report was released showing that in the last decade, the number of women who target shoot has increased by nearly 70% (67.4% from 2003 to 2012) to more than 6 million. The number of women who hunt has increased 43% to 3 million. That’s a big jump. With that many women coming into the shooting sports, there’s a another great opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up; A chance to share not only the fun of reloading but the knowledge of reloading as well.

When I started shooting, women were not as prevalent as now and a woman reloading was even more unheard of. I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, when I wanted to start reloading, I asked many fellow shooters to steer me in the right direction. Find a reloader, teach me the process and simply just give me a better understanding about the art of reloading. Well, that was a lot to ask back then.

Instead of someone showing me how to reload and explaining the process, I had many offers to reload for me, but not teach me how to do it. I didn’t want someone to reload for me, I wanted to reload my own ammunition myself and I wanted to learn how to do it right. It took a while, but I finally found someone who took the time and effort to share their knowledge and techniques.

Passing something on to the next generation is one of the greatest pleasures of life. A physical object you can touch such as a gun, a reloader, some equipment and even furniture is valued. But passing on the vast knowledge of experience accumulated over the years can be worth so much more.

Most women have felt the intimidation of walking onto a shooting range for the first time and that same intimidation occurs when they stand in front of their first reloader. Stories are told of what happens when a mistake is made and the dangers of not paying attention. For those of us who have reloaded over the years, we’ve learned many things about the reloading process and we’ve all made our share of mistakes. But sharing all that knowledge, the good, the bad and even the ugly is the best way to instill passion and pass on the enjoyment of the shooting sports.

Times have changed and the statistics show it. As more women continue to enter the shooting sports, there will be more and more women in need of learning the art of reloading and that’s where we all need to step up to plate.

There’s a lot to learn about reloading, particularly if you’ve never even been around it and most women haven’t. So, take your wife, daughter, female friend and introduce them to your reloading room. Now, I realize that some of those “man caves” might be hands off to women, but in this case, make an exception. Sure, it’s easier and faster to do it yourself, but not only will you be depriving someone of learning something new, you’ll be depriving yourself from passing on your knowledge and passion that can only come from you.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Let's Reload!

by Shari LeGate

You might be thinking to yourself why should I reload?  It's cheaper and easier to just buy ammo, especially when there's a great deal at Walmart or some other big box store. Sure, it's easy to just buy ammunition, but you're missing a big part of the overall shooting experience.

When I started reloading, I learned about the cycle of shooting. Yes, like the cycle of life, there is a cycle to shooting and reloading completes the cycle. I would reload a shell, go out to the range the next day, drop it in my gun, shoot it, watch the target break, keep the empty hall, and then reload it again that evening, starting the cycle all over again. It made me feel I was a part of the entire shooting process. It also gave me great confidence in my ammunition. I knew I loaded that shell and I knew it was good.

I started with a 600 Jr. I loaded on it for a few years, upgraded to a Grabber when I became more proficient and then finally a 9000.

Reloading is easy and it's fun. Getting started is even easier. Right here on the MEC web site are videos that explain the reloading process. And if you want one-on-one instruction, stop by and take one of the free MEC reloading clinics taking place around the country. Here's a listing of locations. The MEC staff is knowledgeable and will spend as much time as necessary for you to feel comfortable.

They’ll also help you pick the right reloader based on the sport you're in, the amount of shooting you do and most importantly, who's doing the reloading. I suggest starting with the 600 Jr. Mark V. It’s the best way to learn the reloading process. From there, once you feel comfortable, you can upgrade to one of the other models.  Just remember, it’s not how fast your reload, but how good the reload is. Quality…. not quantity and with a MEC reloader, you can’t help but get a quality reload and a quality support staff standing behind you to help you along the way. 

Get started and let me know how it goes.  I’d enjoy hearing from you.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Speed Challenge: Tips for Shooting Clays

By Patrick Flanigan - Xtreme Sport Shooter

Being a solid and accurate shooter requires dedication, discipline and many rounds of practice. However, to be a great speed shooter would require those same attributes in addition to a significant rhythmic understanding and feel for shooting.

On April 3rd of 2007, I set a speed record with a non-modified Winchester SX3 auto loader by firing 12 rounds in 1.4 sec. This is equivalent to a Browning M-2 belt fed machine gun. Many individuals questioned whether the SX3 is stock or modified and argued that it just is not possible. Well, I will tell you now that it is possible and it’s possible to make it shoot even faster.

Here is my secret. I have been a drummer for twenty plus years, longer than I have been shooting firearms and as you all know a successful or accomplished drummer must have solid rhythm. My rhythm, like my shooting, is very instinctive and natural. Yes, I had to work to develop it. However, I feel as though I have always had it in me. A part of drumming is learning rhythmic patterns that are structured numerically and accented on different beats.

For example, a triplet would be structured as single beats in a three beat grouping and accented in different ways. I apply different rhythms to my Xtreme sport shooting, especially my speed shooting!

The particular rhythm you would hear from my speed record video would be that of sixteenth notes. Sixteenths notes would look something like this **** **** **** and counted like this, 1e+a, 2e+a, 3e+a. Twelve beats played together in three four-beat groupings. I know that sounds like a lot to chew on and you have probably gone back and read that last sentence 3-4 times, but that is why I am able to shoot as fast as I do.

The above demonstrates how I subdivide the twelve notes (or twelve shots) into three groupings of four notes. Those same twelve notes can also be broken up in several other ways.

Four groupings of three notes: *** *** *** ***

Two groupings of six notes: ****** ******

Six groupings of two notes: ** ** ** ** ** **

The way that each shooter chooses to phrase the notes will be unique to him/her and reflects that person’s own internal rhythm(s). Playing drums through the years has helped me to learn an increased number of rhythms, expanding my rhythmic ‘vocabulary’ and giving me more options to draw from when it comes time to start pulling the trigger! I know we cannot all go out and take drum lessons just to increase the speed of our trigger finger, so I will give you some alternate tips that may help:
  1. Get yourself motivated and energized before attempting a speed challenge. Prior to attempting to set a speed record or before I attempt to fire an auto loader rapidly, I will count the rhythm in my head a few times until I am ready and when ready I will then relay that rhythm to my finger. It is my way of mentally preparing and pumping myself up for the challenge. I hear the rhythm first!
  2. Finger exercises. Yes, it sounds foolish but it works. I am always tapping my fingers to music or playing finger drums on the dinner table.
  3. Get a steady rhythm of your own. Try to create your own natural rhythm in your head. In fact, you probably have one already and don’t even realize it.
  4. Practice!!! Practice may be the most generic tip I can offer although it is the greatest tip you can learn.
Like any great athlete, we all need to identify our weaknesses and our strengths. Once we have done that then we can focus on what needs to be done in order to improve our game. I spend time before practice day thinking about what I need to improve on and that becomes my focus until bettered. You should approach every practice with the idea of leaving your practice a better shooter. In all honesty, if speed is your biggest weakness, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Speed comes with repetition!

Now get prepared, find your rhythm, be safe and go on out and enjoy your shooting practice!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts…


Monday, February 24, 2014

You're ready...but are you prepared?

By Shari LeGate

“My ritual is the same before every game…. Maybe I play cards with the guys or watch a movie on television, but all day I’m going back and forth between thinking about those things and thinking about the game. I start picturing the way I want to play…..” Michael Jordan, NBA All-Star

No matter what sport we compete in, we have to prepare ourselves, and so we do all the exercises that prepare our bodies. In shooting, we do stretching exercises limbering up our arms and legs, twisting our backs and waists to be able to rotate to that hard left or right. But while it’s important to physically prepare, it’s just as important to mentally to prepare. I know most of us say we do it, but seriously ask yourself ….do you…..really?

Too many of us think mental preparation will happen automatically, because we want it to. What separates the good shooter from the great shooter is those who purposely prepare both their mind and their body.

“It’s hard to separate the mental and the physical. So much of what you do physically happens because you’ve thought about it and mentally prepare for it” Dan Fouts, NFL Quarterback.

Ask any shooter and they’ll tell you they have a routine to get them ready to walk out on the line. Whether it’s listening to certain music, planning their strategy, reviewing their shot sequence, looking at targets, etc.  But is this really a purposely-developed warm up?  Most times it’s been developed by chance and when things start to go south, what do you have in place to draw on to get out of trouble? Worry, failed expectations and negative thoughts. Not a good mental game.

So what is a good mental game? A consistent routine of specific thoughts, images, words, feelings and behaviors that prepare your mind for competition. You want to reach that ideal mindset or “zone” and that takes practice and preparation. So, while your preparing your body with stretches and twists, prepare your mind at the same time.

But what kind of mental preparation routine do you need. I can’t answer that for you, but I can offer some advice on what to work on:

1) Attain the appropriate energy level.

2) Attain the appropriate focus.

3) Rehearse your competition strategy.

4) Develop a competition focus and refocusing plan.

5) Prepare for distractions and unexpected events.

6) Develop a strategy to work through discomfort, fatigue and frustration

7) Keep on task.

Do these things over and over again, the same way every time. This isn’t going to happen overnight. You didn’t get to be the good shooter you are now, overnight, did you? In order for any mental game to be effective, it takes practice, just like it took shooting practice on the range. But with honing a mental routine, you don’t have to be at the range. You can work on your mental game at home. The more you practice it, the better you’ll be.

So, start practicing and show up at this competition with a competitive edge no one is expecting. That alone will get you a few more targets!

I look forward to your thoughts.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Safe & Secure with MEC’s Slug Loader

by Shari LeGate

A few weeks ago, I was at a local shooting range for a trap match.  This is not a small range. It’s one of the biggest ranges in the country and has a 5-star rating. There was also a sporting clays match going on as well so there were several hundred people milling around and shooting. There were two sporting courses and both were being used. One on each side of the trap fields, not on the sides of the trap fields, but in front and behind the trap line.

It was time for my squad to shoot and as I walked up to the trap line, I noticed about 300 – 350 yards out in front of this trap field was a 25ft. berm. Standing on top of the berm were several sporting clay shooters getting ready to shoot the sporting course. I pointed this out to the trapper remarking this was a huge safety issue, not to mention enormously distracting but was told it was fine. The range does this all the time when running multiple matches. I was told the berm is outside of the shot fall zone and trap and skeet loads won’t travel that far.

That berm and those shooters may be out of reach for a trap or skeet load, but they’re certainly not out of reach for a slug load. I shudder to think what would have happened if a slug load got mixed in with a trap/skeet load.  And it can happen. Who among us has not reached into our pouch and dropped a 20-ga load into a 12-ga barrel.  And the same could happen with a slug load. With most loaders, a slug load and a trap/skeet load are crimped exactly the same and you can’t tell the difference.

And that’s where the new MEC Slug Loader comes in. Not only does it make a consistent, effective load, the crimp on the MEC loader is a roll crimp, not a fold crimp. The end of the case is exposed so you can see it’s a slug load.  And that’s one of the many benefits of the new MEC Slug Loader.

Setting it up was extremely easy. Once I got my powder charge and wad column configurations in place, it was just a matter of adding the components and working my way through the last 3 stations for a complete shell.  Never having loaded a slug before, I was a little apprehensive,  but my first shell came out pretty good, one that I would not hesitate to load in my gun. It was simple and easy; just make sure you go through the step-by-step combination of components. The entire loading time process is the same as a regular trap or skeet load.   

After my recent experience at that particular shooting range, I appreciated so much more the effort and consideration MEC took with the design of their new Slug Loader. When it comes to shooting and loading, safety is paramount and at MEC, that’s just standard operating procedures.