Sharp shots hone talents

Posted: Friday, April 30, 2004

Although some waterfowl and upland game bird hunters may not begin thinking about shooting sports until late October, the truly dedicated know there is a lot of time and preparation that goes into each season starting in spring.

Die-hard hunters have many rituals to improve their success, including spending hours scouting different locations in search of good hunting opportunities, making it to the range to keep their skills sharp and just cleaning and repairing equipment to ensure it will be in good condition for when the time is right.

These folks can add one more advantage to their arsenal by taking next week's Shotshell and Ballistics Seminar for Game Bird Hunting, a two-day event sponsored by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Cooperative North American Shotgunning Education Program.

"People who are into shotguns and want to learn to shoot better, this is definitely for them," said Kirk Lingofelt, the certified National Sporting Clay Association level II instructor for the course.

"This is a good class with a lot of shooting," added Lingofelt.

The first part of the seminar will be in-class instruction at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture building in Kenai on Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. Issues covered will include new shot types, understanding shotguns and shotshell ballistics, how to choose effective loads for game birds, shooting skills improvement, bird conservation and steel and lead shot technology.

"This seminar will really teach people the fundamentals of using steel shot," Lingofelt said. Wildlife biologists have long encouraged hunters to use non-toxic steel shot for waterfowl and upland bird hunting after it was determined that lead pellets have harmful environmental effects.

The second part of the seminar will be a shooting clinic with lots of hands-on instruction. It will take place at the Snowshoe Gun Club in Kenai on Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m.

"There we'll have them pattern test their shotguns," Lingofelt said.

He explained this involves participants picking loads and firing them from various distances, then looking at the pellet spray pattern on the target to determine which loads are the most effective at a specific distance.

This is an important concept for hunters to understand since too light a load shot from too far away may often mean a miss, but too heavy a load shot from too close may often result in a bird exploding into a mess of feathers.

"The goal is for them to find the perfect blend of pellets at a given distance," Lingofelt said.

In addition to picking the proper shot, the shooting clinic also will teach participants how to get a lead on a bird, and there will be lots of clay target shooting.

Participation is limited to 20 selected shooters. Participants must attend the seminar, sign up and pay in advance. The cost is $20 to cover the cost of ammunition and targets. For more information, call Larry Lewis at 262-9368.

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