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Shooting a pump gun is like riding a bicycle. Yesterday I shot a round of skeet with a Winchester SXP I just received for testing and I never missed a stroke. These days I only use pumps for turkey hunting and I can’t remember the last time I had to shuck one quickly, but once you learn how, you don’t forget.


My dad was one of those who could never remember to work the slide between shots. I taught myself by loading two shells, having someone pull me a clay, shooting it, then calling for another, shucking out the empty and shooting that one. Then I worked my way up to doubles and after that I could go back and forth between pumps and semiautos without any trouble. I can only remember one time in the field when I was tired out at the end of a long day chasing pheasants, when I shot, missed, pulled the trigger of my BPS again and wondered why the gun wouldn’t shoot. By the time I remembered to work the slide, the bird was gone.

Shooting a pump at skeet I remembered why it is some people feel they shoot them better than they shoot other actions. Shucking the gun takes you off target for an instant. You have to reacquire the bird and make a fresh move to it with your second and third shells, increasing the chance you’ll make a good followup shot. While I am not one of those who can empty a pump as fast I as I can empty a semiauto, who cares? It’s usually better to slow down a little anyway. Pumps are kind of out these days – except for home defense models – and semiautos are in, but shooting a pump again for the first time yesterday reminded me why I used to like hunting with them.