View Full Version : For senior shotgunners.....

Dave McC
July 21, 2001, 07:09 AM
Not all of us are 20 years old and in excellent health. After a conversation yesterday at the Geezer League, along with an E mail or two, maybe it's time to bring up a few things common to us over 40.Feel free to chip in if something's missed.

First, a personal observation. One of the reasons I'm 54 and retired can be found in between the back of my skull and my oversized Gluteus Maximus.

My back is a mess. Two herniated discs(T-4&5), a pinched nerve in my neck and some ripped muscles mean lots of anti inflammatories that do not quite take care of all the pain and discomfort. At this point, if something didn't hurt, I'd think I was dead(G).I can stand up for maybe 1 1/2 hours before it gets bad.

So, shooting presents several challenges and pitfalls for us that younger and more fit shooters may not be aware of. Here's what I started doing, it seems to help.

First, when trap shooting, I stretch and bend a bit to get things loosened up. Standing with my feet roughly shoulder width apart, I grasp the shotgun at the grip with both hands. I push it away from my body as far as I can and raise it overhead. After a few of these, I extend my arms, still holding the shotgun, and twist my body from the knees up to one side or another. Then, I bring the shotgun close to my chest and push it away a few times. Now loosened up, I'm ready to shoot, and less likely to get sore by so doing.

Those readers with experience in Tai Chi may recognise some of this.

Not too long ago one of my buddies from the Geezer League inquired about my gyrations. I told him about the back, and now he does it a bit to loosen up. Bad backs are not rare among older shooters.

You know the old joke....

First the legs go, then the eyes, then the memory, and I forget what happens after that....

Older shooters have more eye probs. Besides the slight astigmatism and more severe myopia I've been cursed with since childhood, my Diabetes screen and exams show that I've cataracts. In a less technologically advanced time, this would mean blindness. Instead thanks to modern science and my HMO, they get fixed next month. At the same time, they'll fix the myopia, though I'll still need glasses for the astigmatism.

If you're over 40, get an eye exam yearly. If your scores have been falling over the last year or two, get an eye exam. Do NOT put it off, my operation has an excellent prognosis because the problem was caught early.

Next, muscle mass and tone:

People over 50 lose muscle mass more easily than younger ones. Tone goes quicker, so more regular/frequent exercise is called for. For shotgunners, those exercises mentioned earlier to loosen up are a great start. A good exercise for us is to practice the mount. 50 reps a day lifting a 7-9 lb weight on days we do not shoot helps keep those muscles toned,and also has advantages in shooting. Better condition means less fatigue at the end of the day and maybe a bird or two we'd have missed otherwise...

Also, try mounting the shotgun from the offside when you do those reps.

"Serious" shotgunners need to be able to shoot from either side as needed, and keeping the muscles on both sides in shape is a good idea anyway.

Next, reaction time. As we age, we slow down a bit and lose the edge. However, stuff that's really grooved in through repetition tends to lose less speed. This is why Octogenarians like some of the Geezer League people can smoke them near the traphouse.A couple of folks I shoot with are WWII vets and they make smoke quite often.

For field shooting, going up one increment of choke may make sense. Gene Hill writes that age has cost him 5 yards, by the time he gets on a bird it's 5 yards further out than in days of yore. Actually, since many folks are overchoked, that 5 yards may help the pattern open up and you hit better.Play this by ear.

Question, comments, donations?....

July 21, 2001, 08:30 AM
Besides the slight astigmatism and more severe myopia I've been cursed with since childhood, my Diabetes screen and exams show that I've cataracts. In a less technologically advanced time, this would mean blindness. Instead thanks to modern science and my HMO, they get fixed next month.
This bears repeating since even in a more technologically advanced time if you jerk around long enough you can manage to outrun the advances.

dick w. holliday
July 21, 2001, 06:45 PM
tomorrow AM i'll be shooting trap and skeet with a gentleman who is in his late 70's and he still outshoots me on the trapl range occasionally although he is over 20 years my senior...I blame it on his superior equipment- he is always shooting perazzis and Kreigoffs----hell-i got to blame it on something!!!! Dick

July 21, 2001, 07:53 PM
Nice write-up Dave, and I hope the surgery turns out as perfectly as it did for the folks I know.

Your list is just in time, too. I'm just old enough to join the antis at AARP.

The only thing I can think of to add is for all of us to try stretching some before getting out of bed in the morning, even if it is just pulling each knee up near the chest a couple of times. Jumping up out of bed and standing is hard on the back - it hasn't had any exercise all night and the muscles need a gentle wake-up call. After all, the spine was never designed for constant standing anyway.


P.S. - All this talk of pain reminded me of my mother and her attitude (insert picture of a red-headed Scots-Irish woman.)

I called my parents one morning last winter, knowing that my father had the flu and my mother was recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and looked like she had a half a grapefruit taped to her knee. She has also had very painful arthritis for 40-odd years. My dad answered the phone and said that mom was out shoveling the snow off of the driveway. She's 76. When she called back later I gave her a hard time about not taking it easy on the knee. To quote her "It's going to hurt anyway, I might as well get something done." :)

July 22, 2001, 03:49 AM
Dave, best wishes for your upcoming treatment.

I just graduated from my thirties into the forties, and it may be psychosomatic, but my legs and feet have been complaining, as if they were independently sentient creatures aware of this purely calendarial change. My eyes don't give a rats arse, since i've been blind as a bat since age nine...

But I take seriously your exhortations...I just bought a pair of soccer cleats and a soccer ball, I'll start the old dribbling drills again all by my lonesome, and then find a range in gun-hostile northern Cal. No more excuses, hey? He he...

July 22, 2001, 07:04 AM
I'm sorry I didn't add my best wishes on your upcoming surgery. Let me do that now. Best of luck.

Dave McC
July 22, 2001, 07:40 AM
Thanks, guys, for the thoughts......

40,at least for me, was the threshold. At 40, everything still worked. By 45, I had bifocals, herniated discs, bursitis in both hips, and was borderline Diabetic. Various hand injuries had a cumulative effect, I two finger type because my fingers do not co-operate as well as they used to.

My experience is not unique. I do believe that these probs onset earlier than most, reason being life's been rarely boring.High mileage, IOW.

John, my getting up routine consists of twisting and turning until I'm sure everything is aligned, sitting up and rechecking, and then slowly rising.