I’m writing this piece well in advance as it’s going to be based around the 2019 World sporting at the World Class Northbrook facility just outside Chicago during the month of August 2019. I have shot a World FITASC here in 2012 (silver medalist) also set targets here for a major shoot. For anyone thinking of attending I’m going to give you a lot of pointers about travel, the targets you can expect, the difference in targets and also touch upon gun balance to help you whilst there.
Firstly you will need 2 pieces of paper, both can take a substantial amount of time to receive hence my timing of this article.
* ESTA this is advanced travel visa for all passengers travelling to the states and can be completed online.
* secondly you will need a ATF 6 form (USA gun permit) again it’s online on both CPSA & NSCA websites, this is the one that can take time so fill it in early it lasts for 12 months so no worry on the expiry date.
Once you have these documents it’s time to look at flights and not every airline continues to allow shotguns on board anymore, BA and US / DELTA on my last check continued to fly the shotguns however 2 important factors.
* you have to call the airline at the latest 72 hours before you fly and book your shotgun on the flights, (prepare to be on hold)
* upon arrival at the airport be prepared to pay £125 pound per flight with BA in economy reduced by £50 if you turned left (business)
Upon arrival at your destination collect your suitcases and then look around for a baggage handler hanging around the baggage reclaim area here there will be a trolley with the guns on it, the handler will walk you to customs area to show the ATF6 form.
If this all went to plan you can now enjoy the beautiful USA. During the tournament there will be more shooting then you have ever seen, pre Lims, 5 stand, FITASC, side events and the MAIN EVENT. So what differences can you expect to find in the game across the pond.
* in all events except the FITASC you will be allowed if you so want to use 32gm cartridges instead of the 28gm were restricted too. Only buy what you need generally refunds are not given.
* golf carts are available for all competitors to travel the course, Northbrook is a big facility. Try and link with friends and shoot together to keep the rental costs down.
* the biggest difference is in the targets, I don’t mean the presentations I mean the actual flying object, there fractionally smaller but substantially lighter than ours. These differences create a number of problems for UK shooters, being lighter they come off the trap arm like a bullet but slow down so much and start to change trajectory quite soon so hold points need to be on point and not too close to the machine (if we match the target speed early in its flight we end up way to fast and in front). Target acquisition and methods become so important over there, and be prepared to engage far more Simo pairs then you would encounter here.
* another thing to watch out for are the target colours, they only use orange and black targets, and orange in the sky you need to select the perfect lenses. They have a unique target that’s a orange and black mix (orange dome and black edges) so in the sky u see the black and they look different and appear further and in trees you only see the orange and they look like midis. So really take time over your target reading and lead choices.
So this actually takes me on to my topic of choice being shotgun balance, this is something I’m passionate about and a subject that is over looked by many. More and More I’m getting emails and or students coming to me reference gun fit and balance, over 50% of them have paid large sums to have a gun fitted by professionals previously. When I bring up gun balance they go vacant most saying it wasn’t discussed. Now balance is subjective and the following segment is merely my personal views, it’s how I set up up all of my personal guns and those guns of my students and upon handling the majority of the Worlds best they agree.
Let me start very very simply whichever method of choice you use the place you insert the gun dictates if this will be a successful shot or not. Imagine you have 2 objects a drawing pin and a sledgehammer, push the pin into a wall at any height. Take the sledge hammer and hold the shaft right at the end with the steel hanging out in front and see how successful you are in connecting with the pin. Now turn the hammer around so your holding the steel end with the wooden shaft out in front now you can be very precise on where you connect the pin. Of course this is a exaggeration but over the course of 100 targets I believe ill balanced guns are a problem and people end up making shots they had not planned or the insertion goes wrong and the method changes each time.
Depending on size, height and gender I balance guns differently but mainly down to body size and strength. A great place to start is ever so slightly stock heavy at the hinge pin. If you read this and check your gun and realise it’s way out then the way I change it is to remove the butt plate and utilising the stock bolt hole I compress tissue paper down the void leaving approx 2” at the top, cutting through the wad of a cartridge (disposing of the explosive end carefully) I place the slug on top of the tissue. 2/3 cartridges will usually balance any gun. If you have had a stock shortened (junior and ladies) you will be surprised how off your gun maybe.
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