All the practice, time spent with an instructor and analyzing the numerous books and videos on the subject won’t help a shooter consistently break targets as much as faith.
Every time that shotgun hits your shoulder and a target is in the air, you should be confident that you will make the right move at the right time to put that charge of shot where it will do the most good.
This sage advice was driven home during a sporting clays session with my brothers at the Prairie Grove Shotgun Sports Club run by veteran shooter and instructor Ralph Gates.
The club near Columbia, MO, offers a wonderful array of targets that can test the talents of both fledgling and experienced shooters. One of the more challenging stations is a “squirrel” target that is a clay running along the top of a tree trunk – tough and fun.
Gates likes to accompany the Winingham boys during our friendly competition and is quick to offer suggestions and advice on how to handle the variety of testy targets.
As he told us on one of our first adventures at Prairie Grove, knowing the fundamentals and using the proper form to break targets will be for naught unless the shooter has faith in his ability.
“Faith is the key. You have to have faith that you will do what you have to do in order to hit the target,’’ he said.
His demonstration of this philosophy was impressive.
After sliding a four-inch square piece of cardboard with a hole in the middle just large enough to fit on the barrel of his trusty and well-worn Model 12 pump-action shotgun, Gates took us to one of the skeet fields at his range.
“I don’t have to see the barrel to know where I will be shooting. With a properly fit shotgun, all I have to do is look at the target and rely on faith,’’ he said.
Busted clay after busted clay while shucking shells through the Model 12 clearly demonstrated his point.
While it is not advisable to put cardboard on your shotgun barrel, if the scattergun is properly fit to you and you follow the fundamentals, faith in your ability to handle the target will produce good results.
The following recipe also requires a little faith that the potato balls will cook to golden brown on the outside and remain soft and tasty in the middle. I like to sprinkle the potato balls with a little Chef Ralph’s Super Season after they are cooked to add additional flavor.
Have a Little Faith Potato Balls
- 3 medium red potatoes
- 2 cloves roasted garlic
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheeses
- 1 teaspoon Chef Ralph’s Super Seasoning
- olive oil or bacon grease
Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Remove from water and refrigerate. When potatoes are cold, peel off skins and shred with a grater into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, except oil or grease, and mash everything together with your hands. When well mixed, roll out about a tablespoon of the potato mixture to form a ball the size of an emu’s brain (it is about the same as an English walnut) and place on oiled or greased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, turning once about 20 minutes into the cooking time. Serve hot as an appetizer with your favorite dip or as a side dish for a main course.