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Handloading for sporting clays.

There's a new clay target game beginning to show up in every nook and cranny of these United States Sporting Clays. And as practically everyone knows by this time, the game is set up to simulate actual field shooting with trap machines placed in natural covers. The targets fly varying routes akin to those of game birds, and there's even a variety of trap machines that release targets to roll and bounce along the ground like somewhat crazy cottontails. The Outers Division of Blount, Inc., has just such a machine at a nominal price for stateside delivery. This is a branch of the same outfit that includes RCBS and Speer, so you know they've got a good reputation behind them. Contact John A. Wiggert, Outers Products Mgr., through P.O. Box 39, Onalaska, WI 54650-0039 or (608)7815800 or (800)635-7656 or FAX 608)781-0368 for further details of that sporting trap.

Insofar as your customers are concerned, it's quite likely that they'll soon be asking, "What's a good reload for sporting clays?" And if you yourself haven't been "into" sporting clays, you may be pressed for an answer. With this column I'll try to set down a few of the prevailing concepts touring the U.S. sporting clays scene.

To begin, sporting clays is currently a 12-gauge game with a 1-1/8 ounce shot charge limit. There are plans afoot to introduce competitions in the smaller gauges, but we'll leave that alone until everything is finned up. The fact is that shooters can also use the smaller gauges in sporting clays with loads of 1-1/8 ounces of shot just like the desire to be as level with 12-gauge potency as possible. Yes, you could shoot a 1-1/8 ounce 20-gauge short magnum in a 12-gauge sporting clays event, as the rules make no limit as to charge weight per gauge in 12-gauge shooting. The only restraint is at the 1-1/s ounce level. This means a 16-gauge could be quite effective with 1-1/8 ouncers in sporting clays' 12-gauge events.

The prescribed shot sizes for sporting 1clays begin at 7-1/2s and run through 8s, 8-1/2s, and 9s. Heavier stuff gets to be too dangerous; it carries further. The rules allow nothing heavier than 7-1/2s. When it comes to 12-gauge powder charges, the upper limit is a 3-1/4 drams equivalent charge, which gives the 1-1/8ounce shot charge a published (3-foot instrumental, coil) velocity of about 1,255 f.p.s. There is no established lower line on velocity, and many of the competitors are using the so-called "Lite" loads which have published velocities of about 1,125 f.p.s. to reduce recoil. Thus, there is a relatively wide velocity spread between the lower levels and the top 3-1/4 drams equivalent load.

Which loads seem to be the most popular? The 3-1/4 drams equivalent load seems to be the least popular among stateside shooters. For although it has a high velocity listing, it also delivers solid recoil; and since many sporting clays shooters use over-unders, they shy away from high-recoil loads. Moreover, expedence has taught us that one doesn't need the highest possible speed for Sporting Clays. The milder loads also break targets off the 40-yard high towers. In fact, many shooters believe that lower velocity loads deliver better patterns. This theory is based upon pellet deformation: with a high chamber pressure and exit velocity, the lead shot in 3-1/4 drams equivalent loads tend to be mashed in the chamber and bore by both the setback forces of firing and the squeezing and jamming of payload passage through the narrow points of a barrel (like the forcing cone and choke). The deformation, in turn, causes the pellets to slow down quickly upon striking air resistance, and some will tumble or spin off, leaving the pattern weak. Also, the high gas pressure can send the wad ramming into the shot charge at exit, scrambling it variously.

The lower-velocity loads, on the other hand, may not deform as many pellets via setback forces, and the gas level at the muzzle will be lower to let the shot charge escape without taking a rap on the fanny from gas-pushed wads. This leaves more still-round pellets in the charge to fly en-masse. The lite loads with speeds below 1,145 f.p.s., and more often between 1, 100- 1, 1 25 f.p.s., have surprised people with their on-target impacts, something no doubt true due to:

1) A higher rate of retained energy/velocity values because of the better spherical shapes, and 2) a greater pattern density generated by the round pellets which tend to remain clustered better than deformed ones.

Perhaps the most popular range of 12-gauge loads rests between these extremes. The typical 2-3/4 and 3 drams equivalent trap loads will suffice for practically anything sporting clays has to offer. These have published velocities of 1,145 and 1,200 f.p.s., respectively, from 30-inch barrels, although most 3 dram equivalent loads I've chronographed have run hotter by 20-50 f.p.s. I shot the entire 1989 Sporting Clays event in the national championships with 2-3/4 drams equivalent loads and finished fourth, so ultra-high velocity isn't all that vital. A huge handful of my misses were due to a chronic flinch rather than any weaknesses in the loads. Moreover, I shot as many loads of No. 9s as I did of No. 8s, and not once was I tempted to use No. 7-1/2s. Thus, the sporting clays stands I've been seeing stateside don't demand all those potent loads which beginners often think they need; many such beginners overestimate range and target speed, or else try to compensate for a poor personal technique with fast loads.

It is very difficult to pinpoint some reloads for sporting clays, as each shooter will want to custom his own. For starters, however, I'd point out these in their respective drams equivalent categories:
 (3-1/4 drams equivalent)
 Remington "Premier" hull
 CCI 209 Magnum primer
 22.0/Green Dot
 Remington RXP12 wad
 1-1/8 ounces lead shot
 Published pressure: 9,400 p.s.i.
 Published velocity: 1,255 f.p.s.
 Winchester AA hull
 Winchester 209 primer
 21.0/Solo 1000
 Winchester WAA12F114 wad
 1-1/8 ounces lead shot
 Published pressure: 10,500 l.u.p.
 Published velocity: 1,255 f.p.s.
 (3 drams equivalent)
 Winchester AA hull
 CCI 209 Magnum primer
 18.5/Solo 1000
 Winchester WAA12 wad
 1-1/8 ounces lead shot
 Published pressure: 10,600 l.u.p.
 Published velocity: 1,200 f.p.s.
 Winchester AA hull Winchester
 209 primer
 20.0/Winchester Super-Target
 Winchester WAA12 wad
 1-1/8 ounces lead shot
 Published pressure: 9,800 p.s.i
 Published velocity: 1,200 f.p.s.
 (2-3/4 drams equivalent)
 Remington "Premier" hull
 Remington 209P primer
 19.0/Green Dot
 Remington FIG-8 wad
 1-1/8 ounces lead shot
 Published pressure: 7,300 p.s.i.
 Published velocity: 1,145 f.p.s.
 (Approx. 2-1/2 drams equivalent)
 Winchester AA hull
 Winchester 209 primer
 17.S/Solo 1000
 Winchester WAA12SL wad
 1-1/8 ounces lead shot
 Published pressure: 7,900 L.u.p.
 Published velocity: 1, 125 f.p.s.
 In my next column, I'll cover
FITASC shooting, which is a variant of
sporting clays and has different load stipulations.
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Title Annotation:sporting clay shooting equipment
Author:Zutz, Don
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Words:1231
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