SIMPLIFYING SKEET


You ought to shoot the
shortest stock you can
shoot without getting
your nose kecked -
you can swing better.


















At Trap, it's important to
position yourself for the
hardest target you can
get from that particular
post.


























Too many shooters hold
the forearm too tight. That
keeps you from moving
quickly to cover a hard
bird.
































































































GRITS:     What guns do you prefer?

RUDY:   Well, I shot Winchester Model 12s and Model 42s in competition for years - in 12, 20, 28, and .410 gauges. Since then I've been shooting some Browning O/Us which are nice, and the matched sets of Remington 870s are really nice. The Model 1100s are fine guns, but I was just raised on pumps and two-barrel guns, and auto-loaders just weren't a part of my life.

GRITS:     Need all gauges of skeet guns be matched? Be alike?

RUDY:   I can see where it would be an advantage. We didn't have those niceties back in the early days. I've seen and shot some awfully nice sets, like the Krieghoff, where all four gauges weigh the same and shoot to the same point of impact. That's got to be an advantage.

GRITS:     What chokes on skeet?

RUDY:   Just skeet-and-skeet.

GRITS:     Barrel length?

RUDY:   I prefer the 28-inch barrel over the 26-inch, but couldn't get it on the pump. My .410 was a 30-inch barrel bored out to skeet. And anybody who says a ventilated rib doesn't help just isn't right. It not only dissipates heat, it gives you a nice straight sighting plane.

GRITS:     How about stocks in skeet as compared to trap?

RUDY:   Well, I always shot the same stock. You're not supposed to do that - you should have more drop in skeet, but I'm so used to shooting that drop I shoot it at trap, skeet, live birds and in the field. As you say, it's a pretty straight stock, but it happens to fit the contours of my cheek and cheek bones and shoulder. Here again, if I start changing drops I'm gonna be shooting different. Another reason I like the straight-through Monte Carlo stocks, which have the same drop all along from comb to heel, is that in the winter I may be shooting with you up in Oklahoma with a down jacket on that could push me one inch back from where my cheek would be in the summer. If I've got what we call a dogleg stock, maybe 1 3/8 inches at the comb and 1 7/8 inches at the heel, I'm changing my point of impact in the wintertime, shootin' maybe a foot or foot and a half lower than I am in the summer. With a Monte Carlo, no matter where I put my head on the stock I'm shootin' the same stock dimensions, which gives the same point of impact.

From one weekend to the next, one hunting trip to the next, one trapshoot to the next, you don't always place your head in the same place on the stock. I have to give my father credit for many shooting innovations . . . especially the tight pistol grip. I don't know about the Monte Carlo, but he had the first one I ever saw. That first Etchen grip of his was something - a big Thermos cork with a nail driven into a straight-grip Model 12 Winchester pump gun with a bunch of black mechanic's tape wrapped around. What he was trying to simulate was the grip of a Colt frontier model pistol, which is still one of the greatest handling and pointing handguns ever made. His first Monte Carlo was simply tacked on in layers - I think it was plywood or something like that. He said he was raising his head too much, so he built the stock up to keep his head up. As he said, "Now I don't raise it so often."

GRITS:   I notice you have the stock on your Purdey built up.

RUDY:   Yes, it has a Monte Carlo stock but I build the comb up higher when shooting box birds from a sling-style trap which catapults the bird upward. These birds are always rising so you've got to make that gun shoot a little higher than any other gun or you'll be shooting under them. If you want to have one gun just for this kind of shooting you can have the stock built just for that. But if you wanna shoot it at everything like I do . . . I just take a little Dr. Scholl's moleskin and put it on when I'm shooting box birds, then take it off when I shoot anything else with it.

GRITS:   Dr. Scholl comes in handy.

RUDY:   Yes, he's fixed a lot of shooters' guns as well as feet, and he probably doesn't know that.

GRITS:   On the skeet field, do you position yourself for the spot where you intend to break the target and then coil back toward the house?

RUDY:   Always! There's a simple rule. If you're right handed, point your left toe at the spot where you're going to break the bird and you automatically have the right stance. That's true for trap, too, but keep in mind that you position yourself perfectly for the hardest target from that particular post.

GRITS:   How far back toward the house do you coil on the skeet positions?

RUDY:   Depends on the post, of course. On No. 2 high house, for instance, I've always felt many people crowd that house too much. I prefer to come back perhaps halfway, let the target go past my gun, then overtake it with a fast, smooth swing.

GRITS:   Do you focus your eyes nearer to the house than your gun is pointing when you call for the target?

RUDY:   Well, some people can remove their eyes from the sighting plane of the gun to pick up the target earlier, then re-coordinate - if that's a word - their eye with the gun barrel. Others can't. For them just look right over the barrel, let the bird come out and pass your gun, then go after the bird, swing past and pull the trigger. That's a personal thing. Some people have a faster swing than others. Some people have that trigger timing, that fine hair of being able to coordinate their eye and gun barrel. Two eyed people - those who shoot with both eyes open - have less trouble than those who close one eye. Coordination and timing is better. But there are some good one-eyed shooters. It's a definite handicap to close one eye at international trap. There you could use three eyes.

GRITS:   You shot skeet in the days of the low gun position, do you still shoot it that way now that you can fully mount your gun?

RUDY:   I still drop my gun. Mounting it doesn't feel quite right, and I just feel more comfortable the old way. Mounting it fully, I have a tendency to stab the gun, poke it, not follow through properly. When I have the gun down and it comes up and I'm moving, everything seems to work . . . the follow-through works better. It's a personal thing again . . . how you learned.

GRITS:   Do you start moving with the call, or wait until you see the target?

RUDY:   I wait until I see the target. Sometimes that bird can be a fraction slow or fast, and if you start moving it's hard to start, stop, and start again. Just as in trap, wait until you see the target and then go after it. But when you do go after it, use the old Wyatt Earp adage - when you point a gun, shoot something. When you start that gun moving be prepared to shoot. Don't falter around and point or aim. Swing and shoot.

GRITS:   On skeet targets you don't use a sustained lead?

RUDY:   No. Of course, if there's a severe wind behind the target you know you're going to increase your lead. But it's merely a pass-through, and you maybe just see a little more daylight between target and gun than you normally would. Then you cut it down a little on targets going into the wind. That's a day-to-day thing which you learn as you get experience. And you learn your own capabilities. Some people don't have the ability to change with severe wind. Many shooters are great on their home fields - trap or skeet - but can't do anything away from home. The background is different, or something. That's just like the golfer who is great on his home course and can't break 90 on a strange one.

Some people just can't cope with windy, bouncy days. When the targets are bouncing you usually have to speed your timing up, and here's this trigger timing again. Speed that timing up . . . bust 'em while they've got a lot of speed on 'em coming out of the house, before they ever have a chance of flipping around.

GRITS:   Is all-gauge skeet, the 12-gauge event, too easy?

RUDY:   I put it in the same category as 16-yard singles in trap, and that's at the risk of being fussed at by everybody, I suppose. It is too easy.

GRITS:   What should be done?

RUDY:   I think the same in skeet and trap - a variable trap. They tried it in skeet. I remember going to a couple of skeet shoots in South Bend, Indiana, in 1940 where they had the first variable angle skeet. Scores were like 94x100, and there were some fine shots competing. It's a different game.

GRITS:   How did the targets vary - horizontally or vertically or both?

RUDY:   Horizontally, and that's enough to make you keep your head down and point each bird.

GRITS:   Is that the change you'd recommend for skeet?

RUDY:   Yes! I'd recommend that they go to the variable elevation in 16-yard trap shooting, certainly, and to the variable horizontal target path in skeet. It would make you point. There are six or eight shots in skeet that you should never miss, particularly with 12 gauge. Well, they're no longer easy with that variable.

GRITS:   How about faster targets, as in international skeet?

RUDY:   I don't think speeding them up would hurt a thing. Instead of having the target drop on the other side of the house, get it out there another 20 yards.

GRITS:   How about the low gun position?

RUDY:   Well, I can't see this gun on the hip, but if that's the way the rules are for international skeet that's the way you have to do it. I think U.S. skeet could do it the way we used to, gun below the elbow, a decent way off your shoulder. That a very controversial subject, of course. A guy cocks his elbow way up and says the gun is below it . . . maybe that's the reason they had to go down literally to the belt line. Put the variable angle in, and it won't make skeet such a marathon, even without the low gun position.

GRITS:   How about the timing delay, with the target coming out any time up to three seconds after the call?

RUDY:   There, again, that's highly controversial. I think it's great. It simulates walking up on a bird dog and wondering when the quail will fly.

GRITS:   One problem with delayed timing is the greater amount of time required for a shoot. An average delay of 1.5 seconds on each shot doesn't seem much, but with 100 contestants shooting a 400-target program it adds more than 16 hours to the time required. Is this a stumbling block?

RUDY:   Yes, it is. Skeet is slow enough even without the delay. I'd be tempted to try this change: Let the shooter put the gun up or down, keep the instantaneous release, but start throwing the variable angles. That alone would make 25 targets in each round that you must point out rather than 14 or 16 as of now.

GRITS:   How about the "new" skeet loads without the protective shot collar?

RUDY:   Well, that's all we shot years ago, of course, and this return to no-collar to open up patters a bit is probably in the right direction. A long skeet shot is 25 yards. The new shells have the advantage of no top wad over what we shot long ago, and that is a big plus.

GRITS:   That new Winchester International Skeet load with more velocity and a very soft shot makes a super quail load.

RUDY:   You bet. That No. 9 shot is a deadly little pellet, even on doves. There's one size shot available in Europe which many of us feel should be available here - that's No. 7. It's a whale of a fine size shot to use, fine for decoying ducks and close-in pheasant. It was a favorite with many market hunters, including my grandfather. He got $1.25 a dozen for quail, 25 cents a pair of mallard and 50 cents for a Canada goose - shipped 'em to the Muehlbach Hotel In Kansas City.



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