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Robert Stack: on guns and clays.

Robert Stack is a vociferous supporter of the Second Amendment and the shooting sports. The star of the hit TV series "Unsolved Mysteries" was a champion skeet shooter in his youth, shooting on three California State Teams and was inducted in the Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame in 1971.

An articulate, incisive speaker, Robert Stack discusses the anti-gun press bias, both in Hollywood and the news media. He speaks eloquently of guns, clays and the special bond that develops between father and son in the outdoors. I spoke with Bob during a lull in the action at the Schwarzkopf Cup:

SI: You're shooting a Remington Model 1100 here. Do you have any other shotguns?

Stack: I don't have a sporting clays gun. I shoot the 1100 because it doesn't have any recoil. When I was young and crazy I wrecked my neck and lower back so I can't stand recoil. I can't shoot a standing breech gun very well. Most of my other guns are fitted with the Hydra-Coil system. (A hydraulic piston device that fits in the stock of a shotgun to reduce recoil. Editor)

A lot of guys give their kids 12 gauge guns -- standing breech over-unders, and pumps. These guns scare the livin' bejeebers out of them! Then you wonder why they don't want to go back and shoot anymore.

You've got to lean forward when you shoot a shotgun, so you've got to give the beginner something that's not going to hurt him. My buddy gave me a 28 gauge to begin.

I've seen ladies come in with bruised shoulders and cheeks. They don't have to do that, you know. Shoot an automatic! A semi-automatic of course.

SI: You enjoy sporting clays?

Stack: This game is a whole eye-opener to me. I just love it. I used to shoot ducks an awful lot, but I haven't shot ducks in years.

The strange thing is: our games remained simple. Skeet shooting, trap shooting -- the Europeans made them more difficult! In Olympic European skeet, the gun's at the hip. The three second time delay is the way I used to shoot, with the gun down at the hip.

It's all gone with American skeet now. Nobody ever misses anything; same thing as on trap.

I think, psychologically, the reason sporting clays is so interesting is because no one guy's going to run two or three hundred straight. I think it keeps a lot of the beginning shooters from getting involved if they think some guy's going to shoot for two weeks and never miss a time.

In sporting clays, it's unknown. Everyone has a chance. It's a surprise, and that's the way skeet was -- believe it or not -- when I first did it.

SI: You were quite a skeet shooter in your day.

Stack: When I was a kid, I was good. I had not brains but I could shoot a shotgun! I was on the California team.

In fact, the world's record we broke, which is nothing now, still holds because they changed the style of skeet about two months after we broke the record. The birds used to fly over the houses; now they fly out into the field.

They put me in the Hall of Fame in 1971, as Alex Kerr said, "For what I used to be able to do, not what I do now."

SI: Do you find that shooters are friendly and supportive at matches?

Stack: The greatest people I ever met in my life has been the shooting crowd.

Believe me, when I hear people talk about the "shooting gang" in disparaging tones, boy, I'm up in arms.

SI: What do you think about America's shooting team?

Stack: I see little Connie (Connie Fluker, US Shooting Team) who probably the finest woman's shot in the entire world, and I think we've got the best shots, as the General said last night, in the world.

All we have to do is support them, and remind them that they are respected. I see Lloyd Woodhouse (coach of the US Shooting Team) right there--he's the Big Daddy of them all. It breaks my heart when our shooting team gets ticker tape parades in Europe, but no one knows who the hell they are here.

SI: And no coverage on the networks.

Stack: No coverage on the networks! When I was a kid, when we shot in the Western Open in southern California, half a page in the newspaper would be just the scores! Shooting was recognized and respected.

This is why I'm desperately trying to bring the acting profession into it the way it was originally, and let the people out there know that it's one terrific game.

It's challenging, exciting, and the guys are great. So are the gals, so come on out and get to it! It's a wonderful sport!

SI: What do you think is the future of shooting in America?

Stack: We've got to get together. Urbanized newspaper people who've never been any farther than Chicago, New York or LA, condition their thinking based upon their background. They've never been out there.

I grew up on a farm, but these reporters haven't been out there and shared the outdoor experience with their son. Watching ducks come over at sunrise, going out with the dog, watching the dog work on quail, going fishing, just being out there in the woods, just sharing the experience of nature.

It may sound corny, but "nature" is not sitting there between buildings. They're making a value judgement about things they know nothing about. You've got to walk a mile in someone else's shoes to know why he walks the way he walks. Let 'em try walking in our shoes once in a while.

It's hard to explain this to people -- you have a relationship with your boy in the field, in the country, that you will never get in your life in any damn city.

Now, I feel very strongly about this. When I see places with open spaces I want to hang on to them. God bless them -- go out and enjoy them because they're getting scarcer and scarcer.

SI: What do you think of General Schwarzkopf's participation in this event?

Stack: God love him, General Schwarzkopf's what he is. We all know what he is -- he's a genius. He changed all rules of warfare.

I come from a military family. There were five members of my family in the Navy, and General Schwarzkopf represents what you would hope to be -- the typical, down-to-earth American.

He's what he is with no show, no glory, no pearl handled revolvers. I'm not knocking Patton, but this is just a man's man who loves to hunt, loves to fish, loves the country. His family loves him.

And to have him host this tournament, gives such... such validity, such respect to a sport that he sincerely loves. The average person says, "Man, if General Schwarzkopf loves it, then I'm going to try it." And it's true, they should.

I think the General is the single most popular person to show America, and the rest of the world, what a nifty sport this is. He even mentioned sporting clays when he was over in the Gulf!

God love him... he's here. Talk is cheap, but this is the kind of man who could be anything in this country and I'd vote for him.

SI: You think he should get into politics?

Stack: That's entirely his decision. You know, I think he's a personal man and I don't wish anyone to go into politics. I think it's such a bifurcated business--cut down the middle, trying to please everybody, offend nobody.

Look, if he ever does, I'll certainly be on his team. But I think he should shoot sporting clays, stay with his family and do what pleasures him now. He's done enough already for our country, and for the world, in the Persian Gulf.
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Article Details
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Author:Hopkins, Cameron
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Interview
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:1324
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