_by David E. Petzal
I may have written about this before; the lesson is worth repeating.

Every summer I shoot in a trap league where most of the competitors are either coots like myself who used to be good, or middle-aged shooters who are still good. The guns tend to be at the high end, as trap guns go. No one shows up with their pappy’s duck gun and hopes for the best. There are un-guns, and guns with super high ribs, and guns with adjustable combs, and guns with butts that cant to either side and adjust for length of pull. There are screw-in chokes galore, and custom triggers and tuned-up triggers.

But the guy who got the high over all award, who shot the best combined total for 16-yard, handicap, and doubles, used a Winchester Model 12 pump for the first two events.

It’s a very fancy Model 12, but it’s exactly the same gun you would have seen by the carload at any trap shoot in the 1950s. Nothing adjusts. Nothing screws in or out. (When I asked the owner what choke he used, he said: “Full, just as it came from the factory. Winchester spent a lot of time perfecting its choke dimensions, so why would I change them?”

What got him first place was not his gun but the relentless, unflappable consistency that all good trap shooters, and all good shooters, have. He did not hit every bird. But if he did drop one he would not lose two more birds worrying about the first. He shot fast; he did not chase them all over the sky. He broke each target at exactly the same distance from the house, and every one he hit he absolutely pounded.

It was a clinic in the importance of good shooting over equipment. I’m glad I got to watch it, and I wish I had his scores.