I’m going to write a series of posts here about learning to shoot, the way I learned.

This is not going to be about becoming one of Joe Huffman’s minions, (though I dream of belonging to that elite group someday) but just plain shooting. And there is no better way to learn to shoot, in my humble opinion, than beginning with trap/skeet.

Trap does several things for you:

1: It gets you used to the bang and the impact of the firearm agains your shoulder.
2: It teaches you what kind of gun fits you best so you can get it quickly to your shoulder- Kim speaks of “Hogback” stocks, and after having shot several of them, I understand.
3: It teaches you to have the buttstock of the gun against your shoulder.
UPDATE: A commenter at Kim’s site makes the observation (which I took for granted, but he’s right, it deserves separate mention) that the other two pieces of the “buttstock against your shouilder” bit are: Cheek against the stock, and Gun in the same place every time. Thanks, llamas.
4: It teaches- and maybe this is the most important thing- it teaches target acquistion.

Target acquisition is the single most important item in the shooting lexicon. Target acquisition involves more than seeing the target, but getting your firearm pointed at it, and doing so quickly. Nowhere else is this more important than in trap; the fact is, while people tend to think of scatterguns as point and shoot weapons, the shot exiting a full-choke shotgun barrel doesn’t begin to spread substantially until it’s twenty or more yards out of the muzzle. Until then, it’s still a compact ball of pellets. So you have to pay atention to where you point.

People who have never shot trap have no idea, first, how much damned fun it is. Second, how challenging it is- you don’t just hit every damned clay. At first, a LOT more clays hit the ground intact than dusted. In fact, the very first time Dad and I went to the farm and shot, he threw the same eight clays over and over again for an hour before I dusted even one.

I have let those skills fall into disuse, and that is something I’ll be changing very soon.

One final point: A shotgun will take fully 80% of the game to be had in north America. If you have only one gun, let it be a shotgun- you can take anything from squirrels to deer (with rifled slugs) and for home defense, nothing has the Goblin- scrotum-shrinkage inducing power of the slide on a pump shotgun being racked.