View Full Version : The kids and sporting clays

October 21, 2012, 12:16 PM
I took the boys to shoot sporting clays for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It was my first time, too. We all had a grand time and I'm happy to say that I think we've found our common sport. My 15 year old is 5'8" and 120 pounds. We both shot an old Model 12 in 20 gauge, which worked great. My 12 year old shot a Mode 500 youth model in 20 gauge and did pretty well. My question is: What gun would you all recommend for my older boy? He enjoyed the Model 12, but I'm wondering if a 12 gauge might serve him better in the long run. He seems entranced by my friend's Beretta semi. Also, Is it easy to put a full size butt stock on my little one's model 500 as he grows? Thanks for your help.

October 21, 2012, 01:14 PM
A 12ga is probably the better option...and its easy to reduce recoil by shooting lower velocity loads .. or 1 oz or 7/8 oa loads.. at 1150 fps ...especially if you reload / but there is a wide variety of shells available commercially as well.

Fit is the issue on shotguns / so they hit where you look.

Nothing wrong with a good pump gun ...but any gun like that is a fixed breech vs a semi-auto where they cycling of the action absorbs some of the recoil.

In terms of gas guns ...Beretta has a strong lineup of guns ( they make about 30 different models of semi-autos alone / different styles of combs,etc ) but in gas guns they are the dominant mfg ....Browning also makes a pretty good semi-auto in the Silver line of guns ...like the Silver Hunter. Prices are $ 750 - $2,000...

For a good pump gun option - I also like the Browning BPS ..like the BPS Hunter model...they're selling for around $ 700...

A couple of things....in general, I'd go with a gun that has a 28" barrel ...whether its a 12ga or 20ga is irrelevent.../ longer barrel gives you a longer sight plane ..helps smooth out the swing on flying targets. On an Over Under..I'd go with a 30" barrel ...receivers on O/U's are shorter than pumps and semi-autos.

Don't overlook used guns ...but make sure what you buy has changeable screw in chokes...so the gun is more versatile. You might end up shooting mostly an Imp Cycl or Mod choke as most sporting targets...but its nice to screw in a Skeet choke if you want to shoot some Skeet ...or a Mod or Improved Mod for some Trap ...

Cost of targets and shells...is what will drive your costs....long after the expense of a gun is long forgotten. With the cost of sporting targets in my area at about $40 / 100 and 5 boxes of shells at $35 ....its easy to spend $75 per shooter on a day of sporting....( and if you go 20 times a yr ...it adds up to $1,500 a yr pretty quickly per shooter ) ....so don't get too upset over a $ 1,500 or $ 3,000 shotgun ...if its a gun that will last you a lifetime.

My personal choice for a Sporting Clays gun, a Skeet gun and a Field gun ...one gun that does everything very well ...is a Browning, Citori, XS Skeet model with an adjustable comb in a 12ga and 30" barrels ...today that gun sells for around $ 3,200...but its a gun that will last for 3 generations ...or at least 1 Million shells..easily. On shotguns - and guns in general - you often get what you pay for....

But the first gun, I bought for my boys when they were teenagers...was a Browning BPS 12ga - Hunter model 28" barrel. Now some 20 yrs later...they are still solid guns / and I bought a pair of them for myself as well in 12ga and 20ga and still have them too ...even though I've gone on to other guns.

One of our buddies on here, Slugo, is shooting a Franchi 20ga semi-auto ...with very good range reports / I might add that gun to your list as well - based on Slugo's comments. But I'd also look at the Browning Silver hunter as well...and maybe a Benelli Super Sport as a comparison - and some of the Beretta 391's...( and have fun with your search ) !

October 22, 2012, 07:17 AM
Thanks, Jim

October 22, 2012, 09:11 AM
SC was invented a long time ago in the UK as training and practice for hunting. It's the only shotgun sport I'm interested in.
I'd stick to the 12 gage. Adding an adult buttstock is usually easy. Going to a 20 gage is often not the way because the 20s are usually lighter so the recoil is the same as the 12.Women for example just shoot 12s as I've heard.
If your interest is also in hunting just pick a good hunting gun as I have and you're on your way. A used gun in good condition is a good solution .As they get older they can make up their minds as to what gun they want . I have a double and an auto .A pump always takes time to get the second shot off so I wouldn't suggest them.

October 22, 2012, 10:51 AM
Pump guns are often slower - especially for young shooters...but if the shooter has good upper body strength - and arms long enough to cycle the pump action ( without dropping the gun away from their face and their shoulder ) ....a pump gun can be cycled virtually as quickly as a semi-auto.

Its also a drill you can practice dry firing at home ( with gun empty - maybe with a couple of snap caps in the gun ) ....in a room ...follow the seam between wall and ceiling....as you get to the corner...click the trigger...and add some follow thru....then cycle the pump - shift your eyes to the opposite direction ...and come back the other way ....as you pass the corner on other side of the room - click the trigger again.

The trick is to stay with the gun...as you execute the first shot ...cycle the gun - and then execute the 2nd shot.

My kids were pretty big kids at 12 yrs old ( so was I for that matter ) ....but they could easily do this drill with the BPS ...and in their 30's today, they can still do it because they drilled it into their muscle memory - even though today my boys and I all shoot Over Unders.
Kids grow so much - that a good solid pump gun / as a 12th birthday present, or 16 yr B'day present or whatever ...is a gun they're likely to have a long time....and a good pump gun is easier for them to grow into ( with comb pads/different recoil pads to adjust length of pull, etc )....and by shooting a 7/8 oz load ( a traditionial 20ga load ) ....at 1150 fps ...its a pretty soft shooting shell.
The other trick on young shooters...is invest in some shooting vests...clay target vests ...they can grow into / holds shells, built in recoil pads, etc....since I have a lot of grandkids ( 10 boys and girls now ) ..I've picked up good ambidextrous vests in small, med, large, XL ... and then someday when they're older give them a nice vest, maybe with their name on it or something, as a long term gift when they've quit growing ...at 25 or something....( but all this little stuff helps ). Another reason I like the Browning BPS - is because it ejects out of the bottom / its good for a Leftie or a Rightie ...and I have both in my family.

Kids are resilient ...but keep their hands warm too ...some rain golf gloves ( big box golf stores sell them in pairs - Foot Joy is the brand I use ) in the new poly fibre - keeps hands dry and pretty warm - but thin enough you can still pick up a dime ( easy to have 5 or 6 different sizes and keep them around in your shooting box ) / and some of those cheap chemical hand warmers...a few extra baseball hats - ( and snacks and water ) ...and the kids will go all day long. ( and I make them leave their cell phones in the car / and so do I ) ...we don't need to be "plugged in" when they're with their dad or grandpa on the course.../ they're with their dad or grandpa for goodness sakes...they're not going to die if they're unplugged for 3 hours..../ same rules apply in my shop when reloading or woodworking ....phones get left upstairs ! Focus on what you're doing ...and enjoy the day / and with some extra equipment for a few hundred bucks ...its as big a deal as the right gun.
Now in sporting clays ...only one shooter in the cage at a time / so you don't need 3 guns...
A safety note ....but if you have someone carrying a 20ga ( make them carry their own shells ) vs you carrying both 12ga and 20ga shells in your vest / its dangerous ...because you can load a 20ga shell into a 12ga...it will go down into the forcing cone ..and you can still load a 12ga shell behind it ( even in a 2 3/4" chamber ) ....and its a big time "Kaboom"... so everyone carry's their own shells..( another reason to have vests that fit them ).
I've been thru all this with my 2 adult kids ...and 6 of 10 grandkids now from 12 - 21 ...and at least 4 more coming along ( now 3 - 11 )....so trust me, I know the drill !!...

October 22, 2012, 03:18 PM
I am an NCSA instructor and coach a private schools youth shotgun team with our emphasis being on Sporting Clays. Unless the child doesnt have the upper body strength to handle a 7-8 lb shotgun, I try to get them in a 12 gauge as soon as possible.

The majority of our kids that are serious about the sport, and can afford it, end up shooting Beretta semi auto's. Mostly 391's , with a few 390's /3901's and A 400's in the mix. They are reliable with target loads, shoot soft, and are adjustable.

We also have a few shooting Browning Silvers, and SX2's and 3's. They are very good shotguns at a slightly lower price point than the Beretta's

In a used gun, there are a ton of gently used 1100's out there. Learn how to maintain it, what parts tend to wear out and fail, and it can be a reliable clay smashing machine.

October 23, 2012, 05:06 AM
Thank you all for your comments. They have been most helpful.