Cowboy Action Shooting is a three gun sport, to move up in the rankings you must be able to shoot your pistols, rifle and shotgun equally fast. One of the biggest time killers on a CAS stage I've noticed is multiple shotgun targets.


   As recently as two/three years ago the new CAS shooter was very limited as to available shotguns. My own first shotgun was a Stoeger 12ga. coach gun. Now, we still have the Stoeger along with imported Russian and Chinese double barrels at very reasonable prices. I have not personally shot either of these but the ones I have seen at various CAS matches seem to be of high quality. Also, I do have a Russian over/under for skeet and it is excellent! At this point in time I would not buy a pump 97 unless I knew the owner or was able to shoot it. There are simply too many totally worn out 97's out there. However, Norinco is supposed to be bringing in another shipment of repro 97's this fall. The cowboys I have spoken to that were lucky enough to get in on the first shipment of them like them.


   Don't feel outgunned with a double barrel. According to how the stage is laid out a double barrel can hold it's own against the pump and is quicker in some situations. For Example, a double barrel laid on a table requiring two shots at close together targets will beat a pump every time! Watch the Rev. Marrying Sam double tap with his double barrel sometime. Where the double barrel loses game is when it is staged against a wall or at stages requiring odd numbers of shotgun targets.


   Most cowboys, however, cannot shoot the double barrel to it's fullest potential and lose significant time. This is not their fault as most double barrels do not come from the factory optimized for quick loading and shooting. My own Stoeger 12ga. came from the factory with an action release that was so stiff it took two thumbs to open. This can be easily fixed, I took mine to the gunsmith at PMS firearms in Salisbury. David has been working on cowboy guns long enough that he knows how to make them shoot. David made a new action release spring that still holds the action securely closed but can be swiped off with a flick of the thumb. While he had my shotgun he fashioned new hammer cocking springs. When you open an internal hammer double barrel these springs cock the hammers but also give the gun a tendency to partially close requiring you to hold the gun open while you attempt to load it. The Russian guns seem especially prone to partial closing while loading. I also had David break the sharp edge on the chambers that was catching on my shells. He also asked if I wanted the automatic safety disconnected and the chambers polished. I elected not to have the safety disconnected, with practice it has become second nature to flick it off when I mount the shotgun to my shoulder. Also, my chambers did not need to be polished, empty double A's will usually fall out on their own weight.


   Speaking of shotgun shells, Winchester AA shells and the green Remington STS are tough shells that can be reloaded many times and fall out of the shotgun chambers easily. The cheap high-pressure hunting loads kick hard and swell when shot sticking in the chambers. Stick with AA or STS shells.


   OK, now that you've had your double barrel worked on it's time to practice your reload. I make dummy shotgun shells out of the silver Winchester AA hulls. I never reload these to keep from mixing them up with my live shells. I ain't seen too many of these lately and will probably use the green STS hulls for my next batch of dummy rounds. (When practicing make sure there are no live rounds anywhere near, right Jim?) To make them I resize and de-prime on my MEC 600 JR, place and seat a wad and then throw a shot charge. Pour in a little extra shot as the wad will be deeper in the hull with no powder. Crimp the hull as usual and then take rubber silicone and completely fill in the primer pocket. Slightly over-fill this cavity as the silicone will shrink some. When dry, after 3 or 4 day's, trim the excess with a razor blade and you will have a dummy round that will last through hundreds of practice firings.


   For practice I take 6 dummy rounds and practice picking up my shotgun from various positions such as against a wall, from a table and standing at port arms. If you are a right handed shooter try grabbing two shells between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand and use a rocking motion to load both simultaneously into the shotgun. Mount the shotgun and fire both shots as you practice acquiring a good sight picture. Then, break open the shotgun and extract the shells with a short backward flip. Keep trying this, work first on smooth form and the speed will come. Keep trying this until you can start with the shotgun laying on a table and load and fire six rounds between 10-14 seconds. I guarantee that if you get the kinks out of your shotgun shooting your rank standing will improve dramatically.
Happy Trails
Deputy Gene    

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