As I approached the remote field in the distance early one warm morning here in September, I heard the familiar echo of gunfire. Two shots, spaced evenly apart by about 6 or 7 seconds, followed by a fairly long pause then two more. As I got closer I could tell the sound was from a shotgun. In the field I found Jay Hubbard, cradled in his arm and open at the breech, smoking lightly from the bore was a vintage enough looking side by side. It was a LC Smith 16 ga., a family heirloom handed down to the Hubbard men from father to son on their 14th birthday, Jay being the most recent recipient of it. At his side, fingers in the air pointing to some unseen target was three time NSCA Champion and NSCA Hall of Famer Andy Duffy. Following his more than successful career Andy is now an active instructor, bringing the skill and excitement of sporting clays to the Middleburg area in private lessons for any and all interested.
Sporting clays has been slowly returning in popularity as gun and shooting enthusiasts around the world discover how sporting clays can quickly improve a hunter’s skills and handling of a shot gun for small game in flight. Sporting clays was originally designed for that very purpose, to help bird hunters improve their skill, originally using pigeons which in modern times have been replaced with clay targets, which are in fact often referred to as clay pigeons (or “birds” as Andy routinely identifies them). Sporting clays differs from Skeet and Trap shooting in that a single clay target is launched from a machine or “trap” as it is referred to, and the shooter follows the target similar to a hunter following a bird in flight. Another type of target is known as the “rabbit” which literally rolls and bounces across the ground like a rabbit.
Sporting clays is a sport that can be practiced merely for the fun of it by non hunters who wish to hone their shooting skills. Shotguns are the weapon used in sporting clays with the 12 gauge being the general weapon of choice, however smaller gauge shotguns are also used, in this case Jay’s antique 16 gauge side by side which Andy refers to as a “fine firearm” and one perfectly suited for Jay’s comfort level and experience.
I watched throughout the morning in the sunlit field as under Andy’s skillful instruction Jay went from somewhat jerky and sudden movements to a smooth fluidity and ease visible in demonstrably more accurate shooting. It was easy to see how Andy’s instruction helped, I listened myself and picked up a few tips for my own edification, of course in part Jay’s rapid improvement may have been in the sudden introduction of the “whipping stick” brought over by Certified NSCA instructor and Andy’s manager Isobel Ziluca. The stick is the punishment for “hitting the target”, a little reverse psychology based on Andy’s sage wisdom that is remarkably effective in helping a student suddenly find the target by being instructed to miss. All in good fun of course and yet most effective.
By the time the class had finished, new students were already showing up, shotguns in hand eager to find their own chi under this champion shooters skillful mentorship and Jay and I said our goodbyes, cleared the area and headed out. As we left I heard again the familiar pop pop of the shotgun, followed by a pause and repeated. I smiled briefly to myself knowing that if those shots were misses, by the end of the hour they’d spot on target.
For more information please contact Isobel Ziluca – firstname.lastname@example.org
Andy Duffy is a 2002 NSCA National Sporting Clays HOA Champion, 2003 National Pro-Am Champion
2002 National Pro-Am Champion, 2002 National FITASC Champion, 1996 National FITASC Champion, 1995 NSCA National Sporting Clays Champion, 1994 NSCA National Sporting Clays