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Planning Shotgun loads


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So, on my first 3 Gun match few weeks ago, I was able to smoothly Quad load (for most of the time) the one thing I had trouble figuring out was how to plan my loads between Slugs and Shot, mostly because I was afraid to miss. I was surprised that I ended up not missing a single shot with the shotgun, I just shot slow.

I now have a pistol sight on my Versamax with a extension tube that would hold 10+1.

My second match is next week and will be a mix of Birdshothot, Slugs and Buckshot with slug targets up to 110yrds. Any tips on how to plan the loads and how to have a contingency plan? I load weak hand, if that matters.

Thanks for all your help.

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Simplest method is to load 1 more round of the type that you need (in case you miss), empty the gun (in the direction of those targets), load the next type of round (plus 1), empty the gun in the direction of those specific targets, load the next type of round...

I've seen immortals load the tube with a mixture of types, going back and forth between slugs and bird and buck, but I don't have the mental capacity for that. Best I can do is, say there's 4 slug targets followed by birdshot targets, then buck: I load 4 bird followed by 5 slugs. Buzzer goes off, shoot the 4 slug targets. If I don't miss, I burn the extra slug toward the targets. Continue the course of fire with the birdshot. Either run the gun dry and load the buck, or (1) load the buck, (2) shoot 1 more bird target, (3) engage the buck targets using all the buckshot you loaded, then (4) go back to the bird targets.

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I'm trying to figure out a way to load so I don't run dry, that happened in the last match and it was just too much to remember in order to start and complete the load.

I've been shooting shotgun for about a month now.

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Candy cane your caddies and set them up so you load your slug or buckshot as the last rounds in the tube on a reload. All you have to do then is take a birdshot target (to use the round in the chamber) and transition to the slug or buckshot. It keeps you from running the gun dry and lets you mix in slugs or buck after your initial shots at the buzzer. The only watch out is you can't drop your slug or buckshot on the ground during your reload.

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Disclaimer -- I'm a mid pack shooter, so take this advise with that in mind. Start with division capacity. Say that's 9. On walk through, count down from there and reload before 0. Usually anytime you're moving, load. 1 round before slugs, load slugs. Shoot last bird target, then slugs. Reload bird and you're good. If you miss; you may wind up with a round in the chamber that's wrong and you can either burn it if match rules allow or simply rack it out.

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Here's how I approach shotgun ammo management, ranked from easiest to hardest methods.

Assuming two ammo types (bird & slug), I try to put the lower round count ammo (I'll assume slugs) either first or last. When you can do them last, it's easy—shoot until you have one birdshot target left, put as many slugs in the tube as you need, then take down the last birdshot target and switch to slugs. Heck, shoot all the birdshot targets first, do the same thing, and just burn a birdshot at the first slug target, if you think that is easier.

If I am going to shoot slugs first, I load either just enough or maybe one extra (depending on how hard the shots seem) so I can start with them. If you load extra be careful to burn the extra round safely (i.e., not at a birdshot target!) before transitioning targets.

When the stage design forces you to shoot your slugs in the middle of all the birdshot, I will just deuce load a couple of slugs when I get there; I'll either shoot down a saved birdshot target then transition to slugs or burn the birdshot in the chamber at the slug target and just keep shooting.

When you get a true three type (bird/buck/slug) stage, it gets a lot harder, but usually it is just a two ammo stage with one or two of the third type thrown in. I will use a nylon side saddle for the third ammo type and single load it as needed.

Worst possible case is a true mixed-bag three ammo type stage. Sometimes, you just have to set up your reloads so they go in the gun in the right order, and you have to program yourself not to take makeup shots even if you miss (because the alternative is a DQ for wrong ammo on target). I think I have seen maybe two stages like that, both at shotgun only matches.

Last word of advice—if you use a match saver of some type, be very wary about switching up ammo type there. Twice now I have shot stages where I decided to put a slug on there instead of my usual birdshot, as I figured I was much more likely to need an emergency slug than shot, and of course I ended up using it for a birdshot target. The first time I saw the different colored hull, dropped it, switched to caddies, and just lost time. The second time I was using a different slug type, didn't catch the color change, and put a slug right over a static clay and into the berm. No DQ since I missed, but it was a stupid mistake.

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not helping the OP, but IMHO mixing up slugs, shot and/or buck on a stage is somewhat over the top. hard or difficult, sure; practical, not really. this is 3 gun, not 5 or 6 gun. not to mention upping the chance for a dq as noted above (both from hitting the wrong stuff with slugs and burning rounds).

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Good clear advise from CJW. I shoot open and have the same problems in terms of stagger loading my magazines. I've found that the fastest way to shoot a stage is having the different rounds loaded in the order I'm going to shoot them. I'll usually add an extra round of each in case I have a miss but you have to be extra careful that you burn or eject the extra round if you don't need it. Another method, depending on stage layout, is to have slugs on top of shot in each mag. When you switch mags you have one shot in the gun and then your slugs on the second shot. The slowest method is to have a separate mag for slugs and shot. Every method has its place depending on how the stage is set up and your own experience level.

Doug

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I f you're justy starting out, trying to mix and match loading and candy caning is asking for trouble. Keep it as simple as possible at first. If this means going a little slower, shooting targets in a weird order to make sure you shoot all the slugs, then all the birdshot, do that.

Personally I prefer to plan my stage to shoot the targets based on the easiest loading method. Usually this means keeping all the birdshot next to each other or all the slugs next to each other. Also, I'd rather twins drop a couple slugs in the mag in the middle of a stage rather than trying to mix them into my loaded mag tube and forget which shell i'm on.

It may not be the quickest or most "PRO" way of doing it, but it keeps things in my mind simplified and it works for me, so far anyways.

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... and tell your MD that you don't appreciate DQ-trap stages. Whenever I mix slugs and shot in my stage designs, I make sure to put only static clays adjacent to the slug shots - even if the shooter gets mixed up, their chance of shooting a birdshot steel with a slug is greatly reduced. Under our rules it is not a DQ to engage a static clay with a slug.

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Hope for the best and plan for the worst. Load it the ideal way and shoot i.e. shoot your 6 clays then 4 slugs, load more slugs as necessary then empty the slugs and start fresh with birdshot. Loading is hard, unloading is easy, such is life.

JF

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... and tell your MD that you don't appreciate DQ-trap stages. Whenever I mix slugs and shot in my stage designs, I make sure to put only static clays adjacent to the slug shots - even if the shooter gets mixed up, their chance of shooting a birdshot steel with a slug is greatly reduced. Under our rules it is not a DQ to engage a static clay with a slug.

Yes. Too many "gotcha" mentalities these days.

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I think the biggest thing is to keep your mind focused on what you are doing and don't let yourself get distracted for even a second. As soon as you start mixing ammo in your tube you can't afford to lose track of exactly what you shot or throw in a quad vs a deuce or any sort of on the fly changes to your plan without fully adjusting you plan in your head while going mach 2 through a stage.

I'm not that smart so try to keep my plans simple to avoid screwing up.

Last weekend at Tarheel they had a very nice stage which required mixing buck and bird for a couple different positions and a lot of people weren't that confident about their buck patterns so people were planning on 2 shots of buck per target, followed by 5 bird, followed by 6 buck followed by 13 bird. A single miss would throw away your plan and people were shooting clays with buck and so on. As far as I can tell the RO's were forgiving of that as long as you didn't break anything but it was bit of a mental mess.

If I had to do it again, I would pick a much simpler plan then the mix and match, and it might have been faster.

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I think the biggest thing is to keep your mind focused on what you are doing and don't let yourself get distracted for even a second. As soon as you start mixing ammo in your tube you can't afford to lose track of exactly what you shot or throw in a quad vs a deuce or any sort of on the fly changes to your plan without fully adjusting you plan in your head while going mach 2 through a stage.

I'm not that smart so try to keep my plans simple to avoid screwing up.

Last weekend at Tarheel they had a very nice stage which required mixing buck and bird for a couple different positions and a lot of people weren't that confident about their buck patterns so people were planning on 2 shots of buck per target, followed by 5 bird, followed by 6 buck followed by 13 bird. A single miss would throw away your plan and people were shooting clays with buck and so on. As far as I can tell the RO's were forgiving of that as long as you didn't break anything but it was bit of a mental mess.

If I had to do it again, I would pick a much simpler plan then the mix and match, and it might have been faster.

My head hurt after that stage. The biggest thing I would have changed would be using #4 buck instead of 00.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Simplest method is to load 1 more round of the type that you need (in case you miss), empty the gun (in the direction of those targets), load the next type of round (plus 1), empty the gun in the direction of those specific targets, load the next type of round...

I've seen immortals load the tube with a mixture of types, going back and forth between slugs and bird and buck, but I don't have the mental capacity for that. Best I can do is, say there's 4 slug targets followed by birdshot targets, then buck: I load 4 bird followed by 5 slugs. Buzzer goes off, shoot the 4 slug targets. If I don't miss, I burn the extra slug toward the targets. Continue the course of fire with the birdshot. Either run the gun dry and load the buck, or (1) load the buck, (2) shoot 1 more bird target, (3) engage the buck targets using all the buckshot you loaded, then (4) go back to the bird targets.

Yep, this worked for me. Key is to remember that each shell belongs to a target and respect each target regardless of how close or big itis. Also, practice your slug shooting. Practice shooting them after shooting an array of bird and after making a short sprint

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I think the biggest thing is to keep your mind focused on what you are doing and don't let yourself get distracted for even a second. As soon as you start mixing ammo in your tube you can't afford to lose track of exactly what you shot or throw in a quad vs a deuce or any sort of on the fly changes to your plan without fully adjusting you plan in your head while going mach 2 through a stage.

I'm not that smart so try to keep my plans simple to avoid screwing up.

Last weekend at Tarheel they had a very nice stage which required mixing buck and bird for a couple different positions and a lot of people weren't that confident about their buck patterns so people were planning on 2 shots of buck per target, followed by 5 bird, followed by 6 buck followed by 13 bird. A single miss would throw away your plan and people were shooting clays with buck and so on. As far as I can tell the RO's were forgiving of that as long as you didn't break anything but it was bit of a mental mess.

If I had to do it again, I would pick a much simpler plan then the mix and match, and it might have been faster.

My head hurt after that stage. The biggest thing I would have changed would be using #4 buck instead of 00.

I was very fortunate to shoot with a great squad at Tarheel and had some good insight on my loads. On that house stage I loaded 1 bird 4 buck 4 bird and went from there.

It was my second 3 Gun match, 5 weeks after I first shot the shotgun, I was happy with the result. Thank you guys for all the help.

https://youtu.be/pRdoLNv97RQ

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