Fortunately, they're not going to give up on this event due to a first-year low attendance - the organizer is already thinking about next year and how he can increase attendance. He's definitely counting on some word-of-mouth for it, I think - and I know I'll be there if my schedule allows it any way.
I. Had. A. Blast.
I'd never shot sporting clays before yesterday. I shot some skeet and trap in college - using a borrowed gun and a grouchy old fart as an instructor. I shot an occasional round of trap after I got my first shotgun, but the club I was going to wasn't real welcoming to new shooters and I faded away pretty quickly. I shot five-stand once a few years ago, and that may have been the last time I shot any clays.
Not one to be deterred by inexperience, and particularly since this was for a good cause, I got up early yesterday and tossed the 1100 and 870 in the car along with a half-case of shells. I got to the range right on time, registered, had breakfast, chatted with some of the other shooters, was assigned to a pick-up squad, and we headed out to the course a little after 9. We were the first group through, so there were some technical issues along the way, but nothing major and all solved in a cheerful manner.
I can't begin to describe all the stations - there were 16 of them, for a total of 100 targets - but they were creative, varying, and above all, fun. Rabbits, straight-outs, floaters, crossers, and one godawful steel squirrel that ran up a post. Singles, report doubles, following doubles, true doubles... variety!
I made some newbie mistakes - I'd forget to take a second shot at a missed single, or forget that a report double had a second bird coming - but the guys on my squad were good about it. I got some very good pointers, busted some tough birds, missed some easy birds, and generally made an acceptable showing - 61/100 birds. (The top score on our squad was an 84, two guys were in the 70s, a 69, and me.)
The 1100 ran like a top, with zero failures of ANY kind, using Remington bulk-pack sport loads (1-1/8oz #8). It was the "cheap" gun of our squad too; the next least-expensive was a Beretta O/U with beautiful wood. (One guy in another squad was going to shoot his new gun that he won at a state shoot - a Blaser O/U. MSRP? $16,000. Holy crap.)
Overall, it was a beautiful walk in the woods with a good bunch of guys, and I will definitely go shoot their course again from time to time. It's an hour away, but they shoot clays once a month with breakfast prior. Definitely worth the trip!
I will admit to being glad I had the gas-run 1100 instead of needing the 870. Not only would the 870 make true-doubles a challenge, it would have beat my shoulder up even more. As it was, there's a purple mark there now: