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Breathe, Breathe, BREATHE!!!

By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

You have gone out and spent $1600 on a new shotgun, $25 on a box of the "best" shells, and $2000 on a prime duck lease.  Opening morning rolls around and that first group of blue wing teal completely commit to your $750 decoy spread.  You pull up, stick a bead on the beak of a bird, and BOOM, BOOM, BOOM...nothing falls!  What's the problem?  I mean you bought the best of everything so shouldn't the birds just drop like rain?  One thing you forgot which happens to be the only free thing in your arsenal, AIR!  After the jump we will talk about how breathing, or not in most cases can determine a kill or a whiff.

When I first started hunting waterfowl really hard, I had a good friend that just so happened to be an excellent shotgunner.  When I say excellent, I mean the guy doesn't miss.  I have seen him have 3 shells loaded up with a 4th in his hand and limit out on teal during our early season with 4 pulls of the trigger in about 4 seconds flat.  My jaw dropped on that hunt.  Matt happens to be an excellent mentor to a lot of folks including myself when it comes to the outdoors.  One thing he taught me early on in our ventures is that my breathing was what makes me miss.  I would get so frustrated after a volley and only having 1 bird drop from my 3 shots.  What Matt pointed out to me was that when I would go to pull up, I would actually hold my breath.  Concentration is actually lost by doing this.

Now one might compare this to the breathing techniques of a sniper.  Honestly you would be comparing apples to oranges.  A sniper's breathing techniques require him to hold his breath between inhaling and exhaling for up to 10 seconds at times.  In this frame set the shooter is attempting to get himself into a relaxed state and thus connect with his target.  If he can not get himself into a relaxed state then his breathing exercise is repeated.

In a waterfowling situation, the shooter is actually very active and does not really have time to pause his breathing.  What is actually done is repetitious and uniformed breathing during the shooting process.  Holding your breath from the time you pull up to the time you take the last shot could potentially be 5-10 seconds.  Now sitting at your desk, recliner, or whatever it is that you are sitting in while reading this I want you to start holding your breath and stand up and act like you are taking shots at decoying birds.  Don't worry, we're waterfowlers and everyone thinks we are crazy to begin with.  I'm sure that duck call hanging from your rear view mirror gets a look from people every day.  Now how do you feel after the "shots" you just took.  I bet there are some that have no change, some that have to take a relief breath or 2, and then there are probably a few of us bigger boys that need to sit back down.  Relate this to your concentration in the blind while taking your shots and you can now see why breathing is important.

Next time you are in that layout blind in the stubble of a corn field, remember to take those breaths.  After all, your freezer depends on it!

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

The Beginner’s Sporting Clays Guide: Training for A State Shoot

By Beretta Fleur - Guest Contributor

I’ve been shooting clays for 2 years, and have been an NSCA member for a little over a year. I’ve always shot tournaments, many of them recreational shoots lasting a couple of hours. If I’m tired after eight stations and my score is twenty points shy of a win, it’s nothing a beer and a burger won’t fix. But with spring comes the end of the hunting season and the beginning of state shoot season.

Beretta Fleur and her SV10 Prevail
This is the first year where I am comfortable enough with shooting competitively to participate in the state shoot, and I started training a month ago. If you’re a beginning shooter, here are five ways you can gear up for a big tournament.

1. Get Registered.  For California, you need at least 300 NSCA-registered targets to compete at state level.  If you’re not an NSCA member, get registered as soon as possible so you can compete.  If you can’t compete this year, register now so you can next year. For me, it’s also a matter of pride: I want to show that I’m serious about competition shooting, even if I’m sometimes the worst score on the board. Everyone starts somewhere.

2. Shoot The Right Gun. Find and practice with a gun that you don’t have to fight with to break clays. I shot 20 gauge for several months before moving to a Beretta 391, which is a great gun, but too high for me. Finally, my husband found a beautiful vintage Beretta 687 12 gauge similar to this one, which is perfect for me.

3. Shoot ‘Till It Hurts. Out in the elements, laden with gear, walking and shooting through ten or more stations four days in a row can be brutal. You have to build stamina. If you don’t already, start shooting tournaments. A couple times a month, shoot two days in a row to get used to the strength and focus needed. This will also help you figure out what causes you to lag (hunger, sun, distraction, fatigue) and develop a system to perform well. For me, it’s sunscreen, iced tea, preemptive Advil, and a snack.

4. Improve Your Focus. Most seasoned shooters will tell you that focus is 90% of breaking clays targets, and they’re right. The competitive, crowded atmosphere at a big shoot is highly distracting. Ask your instructor, buddies, or mentors on how they stay focused. I just watched “Timed to Win” with Anthony Matarese Jr., which has great points on focus.

5. Practice The Course. Every clays range is different. This year, my state shoot will be hosted by a range who sets targets very differently than how my usual range sets them, and my score there is ten points lower. If you can, shoot regularly at the host range in your state. If you can’t get to the host range a few months prior, many state shoots have practice rounds a day or two before the tournament.

Beretta Fleur lives in Los Angeles. She writes, models, and shoots sporting clays. Her book, Hosting With Style: Beretta Fleur's Guide to Parties and Homemaking will be available Fall 2012. She can be reached at

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent those of Beretta.

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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.

Did You Say Duck Dog?

by Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

When you think waterfowl retriever you think Labrador. For years and years this has been the choice for most duck hunters. A few may have gone with the stubborn Chesapeake Bay retriever but, for the most part, black, yellow or chocolate has been the question. Labrador breeders have been busier than a set of jumper cables at a redneck funeral.  Fasten your seat belt because there is a new bread of retrievers coming.

Meet Joey. He is a full blooded English Springer Spaniel. Now, I know what you're thinking: "this guy is dumber than a wedding invitation!" Listen closely: I would put him up against any Lab any day in a hunting situation. I got him when he was around 12 weeks old and started training him myself. At a year old he entered his first hunting season. He absolutely blew me away, as well as everyone else who hunted with me. Never broke, never got cold, never whined and he retrieved over 300 ducks in his first season. At a year and a half he is on full hand signals.

Let me be clear, I am not taking anything away from the mighty Labrador. They are amazing dogs, when well trained. But the intelligence and longevity of the Springer is unmatched. I have owned several duck dogs and this is the first that I am writing about, so that ought to tell you something. They are smaller, quicker, smarter and live longer than the Labrador. When it comes to ice or severe weather, I have Joey on film breaking ice for over 200 yards retrieving a Mallard that sailed on a guy that couldn't hit water if he jumped out of a boat. It was colder than a brass toilet seat in the Yukon!

The art of duck hunting is ever-evolving with the new guns like the Beretta A400 Xtreme, new duck boats, new decoys, new shells, and I could go on and on. It is obvious that, somewhere down the line, a new duck dog was coming. I took a chance on Joey and it was the best decision that I have ever made, when it comes to a hunting dog. The look on your face after reading this is probably like a rat eating guts off a wire brush, but focus. A wise man once told me to do something you have never done in order to see something you have never seen. To get information on where I got Joey go to Upland Meadows Springer Spaniels.

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Adam Brassfield is a professional guide and guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached at H.U.N.T.E.R.S. 24/7 WATERFOWL and on Facebook.

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Embarking On A Waterfowl Journey

(by Brad Wilson - guest contributor)

It was a warm September morning. The sun was due up in a couple of hours, and what we like to call “The Rebirth of an Addiction” was about to take place. The boat was parked in a cane break that harbored what we would soon find out to be a waterfowler’s dream. About an hour to legal shooting time, we decided to go ahead and throw out the decoys and get set up. The spread was going to be large and very inviting. We had just over 15 dozen blocks of various species tossed out and bobbing up and down with every ripple of the salt water beneath them. As time grew nearer, the feeling inside was comparable to your first kiss but with a slight difference. See, this feeling was familiar but never ceases to change when this time of year rolls around. It is a feeling that you have been looking forward to since the last day of the previous season, and it is something that non-hunters could never understand. An addiction. A feeling. A passion. The morning ended with full straps of Blue Wing Teal and little did we know was a true sign of things to come.

My name is Brad Wilson, and I am just your average Joe that grew up in an industrial town just outside of Houston, Texas called Baytown. I was raised as an outdoorsman by an outdoorsman. My dad was an avid deer hunter and we shared many cool Texas mornings in a deer stand in the piney woods of deep East Texas chasing that elusive wall hanger that so many have a yearning for. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that I was introduced to waterfowl hunting by a really close friend that I worked with. Matt is still like a brother to me, and we are blessed to be able to get out in the field together a few times a season. From then on there was no looking back. I have hunted ducks and geese all along the Texas Coast every season since. I am also an avid fisherman and will get a line wet every chance I get whether it is chasing speckled trout and redfish in Trinity Bay or black bass and crappie on Lake Sam Rayburn. I have an extremely understanding, beautiful, and loving wife, 2 awesome sons that I share my passion for the outdoors with religiously, and 2 labrador retrievers that are not only my duck dogs but family as well. I shoot a Beretta A400 Xtreme, have recently been drawn to reloading my own shells, and run a JB Custom duck call on a Cut Em Custom Lanyard that I made myself. God, family, my country, hunting, fishing, and guns are the things in life that I love in that very order with the last three running hand in hand with each other.

I was very blessed to be asked to write for the Beretta USA Blog, and I look forward to sharing as I “Embark On A Waterfowl Journey” over the next few months. I hope you enjoy!

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My first time with Beretta

(by Aaron Spuler - guest contributor)

I was introduced to the Beretta 92FS by Lieutenant John McClane during the holdup at the Nakatomi Plaza in 1988 (Die Hard). I was eleven at the time. I'd shot plenty of guns on a fairly regular basis with my uncle, but my firearms knowledge was not that large. I did, however, know what I liked. The Beretta 92FS was a highlight of the film. Who can forget the scene at the end when John has it taped to his shoulders and shouts “Happy trails, Hans” as he pulls the 92FS out and takes down the last two terrorists?

I was reacquainted with the Beretta 92FS three years ago while taking the Texas Concealed Handgun Licensing course. Another individual at the course had a Beretta 92FS and achieved a perfect score during the live fire exercise. I told myself then that I would get a Beretta 92FS of my own one day...

I have to say that the 92FS is my favorite handgun to shoot out of all that I own. I have trained my wife on all of my handguns, and the Beretta 92FS has become her favorite as well.

What was your introduction to Beretta?

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