Tennessee Valley GRITS Monthly Shoot

Please join us this Saturday, October 16 at 9AM for our monthly shoot at Limestone Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays.  We meet at the pavilion.  Limestone Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays is located at 28755 Coggins Road, Ardmore Alabama 35739.  If you have questions please do not hesitate to call me at 256-426-1205 or 256-417-4870.

You can purchase targets and ammunition at ScoreChaser.com and go to the tournaments section and you will see the event Tennessee Valley GRITS.


A simple guide to shotgun shells and how to choose what we feel that is the best bang for our GRITS gang.  Please keep in mind that these are just some suggestions below for a good and consistent shotgun shell, especially for the ladies but really most shooters.

We definitely like ammo that doesn’t have much ‘kick’, or technically known as recoil. The kick/recoil comes from a couple of things: How much shot (pellets) that is in the shell in the shell and the speed that the shot leaves the barrel. We like to shoot a smaller amount of shot, at slow speeds, so we have less kick!


The type of ammo you chose to use can be impacted by the type of gun you shoot.  To keep it simple here, lets just think about semi-auto’s and over and under shotguns. An over and under shotgun works with pretty much all ammo but a semi-automatic sometimes needs a little more “bang”, (a bit heavier load), for the gun to function correctly.


First, let’s talk about the over and unders…..Generally we can shoot very light recoiling ammo, Look for a ‘low-velocity load’…. 1200 feet per second (FPS) or less. This is just a measurement of how fast the shot leaves the barrel.  The faster the FPS, the more “kick” you will feel. For a 12 gauge we like ⅞ ounce (metric is 24 grams) the best if you can find them but 1 ounce (metric is 28 grams) works fine. We strongly suggest staying away from 1 ⅛ ounce!!  In 20 ga, we like ⅞ ounce, somewhere around 1200 FPS.


For a semi-autos, sometimes the mechanism that loads the shell for you will need a bit of oomph, provided by the firing of the shell, to reliably cycle the action. Most 12 ga semi’s will reliably run on 1 oz / 1200 FPS ammo. For 20 ga, the baseline is generally ⅞ oz / 1200 fps. You can experiment with lighter ammo, but this is a good place to start.


Regarding shot size (the size of the pellets in the shell), the smaller the number, the bigger the pellets (crazy, right?). Sporting clay ranges limit the shot size to 7 ½’s as the biggest pellets. Also common are number 8’s. There are a few more pellets in the #8’s loads, and while either will work, if you have a choice, we suggest 8’s. The size of the pellets in these shells has nothing to do with recoil. So for 12 ga, look for SLOW- 1200 FPS or less- 1 oz or less. In 20 ga, look for ⅞ oz around 1200 fps, and we feel you will be happy with your ammo!


For a more in-depth description  of ammo please visit the BLOG section of www.FennellShootingSchool.com

Lens Color vs. Leaf Color

Fall is here, finally!  Cooler temperatures, beautiful crisp days and evening fire pits are getting stoked up!  It is also a wonderful time of year to really get out and enjoy shooting! Not only clay shooting but the wing shooting season is in full swing.  Walking through the woods or standing in open fields for either quarry is a fabulous feeling!

Fall brings a big change in the background colors as the leaves begin to change from green to their glorious fall show of reds, oranges, almost purples and a lot in between.  These beautiful backgrounds sometimes make seeing your flying targets a little more difficult! Here is where shooting specific glasses come into play and we reached out to eye expert Dr. Richard Colo for his input on this subject.  Here is what he had to say:

“Simply put, good shooting glasses need to provide the proper balance of contrast and clarity. It is important to remember that we need to let in as might light as possible for our eyes to see well.  The color of the lenses varies and many colors are offered. How our eyes see color is very individual but here are some general suggestions for this time of year. While in a greener environment, purple lenses do an excellent job “dumbing” down the green and making the orange targets show up better.   Headed into fall, you will find the copper colors do an excellent job enhancing the contrast of fall colors without losing the clarity, thus helping you see your targets better through the strobing colors of fall.”

It is never a bad idea to visit a dealer and just ask if you can walk outside and hold up different color lenses to your eye and see how your eyes personally register colors through a variety of options.  If you wear prescription lenses, you can simply hold color options in front of your glasses. Most shooting glasses are offered in both prescription and non-prescription.

This blog sponsored by:


Dr. Richard Colo  Suffield Eye Care 



Range Bags:  What’s in yours???

Certainly, we might be dating ourselves here but who remembers the game show “Let’s Make a Deal?”  The one where Monty Hall would give you $50 bucks if you had something in your possession like a Q-tip, or a band-aid, or chapstick or even a screwdriver?  Folks would frantically dig and the first person to whip that item out got the $50 bucks? Well, I could have won on any of those items if I had my shooting/range bag along with me!  Yup, sure could have! Which brings us to the question of what’s in your range bag?

Just a quick look in mine would probably reveal the following, and in alphabetical order just for fun:

Bug Spray (in season)


Choke Tubes (if used)

Choke Tube Wrench (if necessary)

Ear Plugs

First Aid Kit



Lens Wipes



Pocket Knife / Leatherman Tool

Reading Glasses


Shell Pouch (or vest)

Shooting Glasses

Shooting Gloves


And yes, there is probably a stray earring in the bottom somewhere……..And no, I did not forget about Shotgun Shells but I carry those by the case so they are not in the bag, but I guess some folks are more conservative and they could fit in your bag!  

As an instructor, I have a few extras like:

Allen Wrenches (for comb adjustments)

Beartooth Recoil Pad Kit

Mole Skin



I am sure there are things we all consider necessities but I carry a big bag and try to be prepared for anything!  Except sewing, I am drawing the line there, no sewing kit but Monty Hall would probably pay someone $50 bucks for that one!  

The Game of Skeet

The game of Skeet was originally started in New England during the early 1920’s to practice for wingshooting. It evolved quickly into a game, and while it still can be a great game to use to warm up for hunting season, it is now a very formalized competition of its own, and variations of the American game of Skeet is played around the globe!

For the American version of the game, we use 110mm ‘standard clays’ and the targets fly at speeds between 45 and 50 mph. The scattergun of choice for this task is usually an over and under shotgun with 26- to 32-inch barrels and very open choke. Often, shooters will choose an improved cylinder choke (one with a tighter pattern) or a skeet choke (one with a wider pattern), but this is a matter of preference. Some gun shops refer to this type of shotgun as a skeet gun. Skeet chokes are designed to be a 30-inch circle at 21 yards distance. Many shooters of American skeet use semi-auto and pump shotguns.

The event is in part meant to simulate the action of bird hunting. The shooter shoots from seven positions on a semicircle with a radius of 21 yards, and an eighth position halfway between stations 1 and 7. There are two houses that as “traps” that launch the targets, one at each corner of the semicircle. The traps launch the targets to a point 15 feet above ground and 18 feet outside of station 8. One trap launches targets from 10 feet above the ground (“high” house) and the other launches it from 3 feet above ground (“low” house).

At stations 1 and 2 the shooter shoots at single targets launched from the high house and then the low house, then shoots a double where the two targets are launched simultaneously but shooting the high house target first. At stations 3, 4, and 5 the shooter shoots at single targets launched from the high house and then the low house. At stations 6 and 7 the shooter shoots at single targets launched from the high house and then the low house, then shoots a double, shooting the low house target first then the high house target. At station 8 the shooter shoots one high target and one low target.

The shooter must then re-shoot his first missed target or, if no targets are missed, must shoot his 25th shell at the low house station 8. This 25th shot was once referred to as the shooter’s option, as he was able to take it where he preferred. Now, to speed up rounds in the competition, the shooter must shoot the low 8 twice for a perfect score.

Shooting a perfect score of ‘25 straight’ is generally a memorable milestone for a shooter, and not a task to be taken lightly, though experienced competitors often shoot several perfect rounds a day in competition.


The Game of 5 Stand

5 stand is one of the most common ‘side games’ you will find at a sporting clays club. Think of it the same way miniature golf compares to playing an 18 hole course, that 5 stand compared to shooting a sporting clays course. It’s a compact, faster  version of sporting clays. As a matter of fact, the international version of what we know as 5 stand, is called Compak Sporting, and is extremely popular in Europe where clubs don’t typically have as much space as we do here in North America. But back to the topic at hand……how do you shoot 5 stand.

5 stand can accommodate up to 5 shooters in one round. A ‘round’ of 5 stand is 25 birds per shooter. There will be 5 ‘stands’ or shooter positions, generally space a few feet apart, though sometimes they may be on different elevations, and each shooter will shoot a menu for a  total of 5 birds per stand, then move to the next station until they have completed all 5 stands. So if there is a shooter in each station, Stand 1 will shoot his first bird ( generally a single target ), then stand 2 will shoot his single, then stand 3, then 4, then 5. After that, its back to the shooter in stand 1, who will now shoot his first pair, then each station will follow. Then back down the line for everyone’s second pair. Sometimes the pairs are on report, sometimes they are true pairs. Every menu is different, and the angles from all the stands are different. It makes for a fast paced round of clays with a lot of variation!


5 Stand is a great ‘warm up’ before starting a round of sporting clays. It can also make a wonderful teaching field, and a fun social round. Many 5 stands will have a cover over the stands, creating a great place to still enjoy shooting on a day with bad weather. 5 stand is a great addition for any gun club, and can be one of the most fun things you do with a shotgun!