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The 10 to 2 Rule

 
By Brad Wilson - Guest contributor

As an avid duck hunter I get to spend quite a bit of time in the blind with different people from all walks of life.  I have had the opportunity to hunt with professional sports stars as well as with average Joes that have never sat in a blind a day in their life.  One thing that I can not stress more is SAFETY!

When folks whom I've never been hunting with get in the blind with me, we always go over safety and shot selection, first and foremost.  The basic rule that I give is what I call the "10 to 2 Rule."  Basically what the hunter has to understand is that his window of opportunity will present itself between the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock position as he or she directly faces the front or rear of the blind.  If the bird happens to get outside of that range then that bird is off limits to the hunter and is in play for the person standing next to them.

If I have a hunter deviates from this rule, I will give a fair warning on the first instance.  I love this sport and I completely understand that we get caught up in the adrenaline rush sometimes, so if the infraction wasn't blatant or reckless I will give a little leeway.  My delivery will definitely make them think about the shot they took though.  If it happens again, the hunter will be asked to unload his weapon and set it down.  In all the years I have been hunting I have only had to go to this extreme one time.  After a few vollies, it was apparent that he understood where I was coming from and after a little pep talk we agreed that he would be WAY more careful.  I didn't have another problem all morning, and he learned a new respect for his weapon and the other hunters around him.

One exception to this rule is the hunter on the end of the blind.  I normally like to put more experienced hunters on the end because typically their shooting skills are far better than a novice's and thus they can "cover the end" of the blind.  I typically sit on the end where the door is, so I can work the dog on retrieves and cover that end of the blind.

One thing we all should remember: a hunt with no safety is nothing more than a game of Russian Roulette with accidents waiting to happen.  Whether you are in the duck marsh, the deer woods, or just having fun at the local range, safety should be your first and foremost concern at all times.  Always understand that "you are your brother's keeper" and not speaking up about unsafe acts is just as bad as if not worse than committing the unsafe act yourself.

Happy hunting and stay safe!

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 and 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.

Passing the Torch: Freedom to Fire Part 2

 

By Austin Selph –Guest Contributor

(Part 2 of 4)
As I mentioned in part one of the Freedom to Fire series, I didn’t grow up with guns in my household (a tragedy, to say the least). Luckily I had some outside influences in the form of extended family and friends to help push me in the right direction.

Generally (and hopefully), most people don’t just stumble upon a firearm and try to “figure things out.” At some point in time, the majority of us have had a specific person or group of people to mentor us in to the world of firearms.

So, let’s talk about being a mentor. This is the guy or gal who teaches you the dos and don’ts of what being a gun owner and operator is all about. Almost every gun owner had a mentor at some point, and most have or are in the process of passing along their tips, tricks, and experience to someone else.

So here’s my story:

I grew up in the concrete jungle of suburban Dallas. Believe it or not, the cul-de-sac is not the most appropriate location for a kid trying to squeeze off a few rounds. Go figure! My parents weren’t gun owners and the few friends I knew, who grew up with guns, didn’t have parents willing to put a firearm in my hands. Can you say rough life?

My mentor, cousin Jeff
Then, one fateful day, my family took a trip to Arkansas to visit a few extended family members. This is where my journey begins. My cousin Jeff (well, second cousin if we’re getting technical) took me out to some family land to do some shooting. I truly felt the freedom that comes with a single pull of the trigger. It was an experience like none other that left me hungry for more. Since then I have taken every opportunity to hit the range or get in the deer stand, even when other activities should probably take priority!

Over the last 15 years, Jeff has mentored me in areas of gun safety and protocol and continues to pass on the multi-generational firearm and hunting experience that his father passed on to him.

The mentor/mentee relationship builds a lifelong bond through a passion for firearms. It almost sounds silly to say that guns bring people together but, trust me, it works!

And... one question: who mentored you? Or who are you mentoring? Remember your skills are only one generation away from extinction if you don’t pass it on. Find someone to mentor!

Austin Selph is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached on Twitter or Facebook.

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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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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 BerettaFleur.com.

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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.

What is a well-armed woman?

 
By Carrie Lightfoot - Guest Contributor
At The Well Armed Woman, it's all about accomplishing the "Three Es:" To Educate, to Equip and to Empower women. Anything that falls into these Es is why it exists and what it's about. I started TheWellArmedWoman.com because there was nothing like it when I was considering a gun.

No single resource that had everything I needed to explore firearms, make an intelligent decision, grow in my skills and find products that fit a my body and lifestyle and, more importantly, spoke to me as a woman. In such a short time, I can say with confidence, women are hungry for these Es!

I am thrilled to be invited to share and connect with you to not only grow in our own skills and knowledge but to inform and expand the world of firearms to all women.

OK, so back to the question. You either are a woman or know a woman; right? So what IS a well-armed woman? Is it a woman in full tactical gear with an AR15 on her shoulder? Is it a gal in jeans and a cowboy hat with a .45 strapped to her belt and a .380 holstered in her boot? Is it the "Mature woman" with her 12 gauge shotgun under her bed? Or is it the business woman with her compact 9mm tucked discretely in her bra holster? All of these are armed women, but what makes a woman well-armed is not just the firearm she owns or how well she is equipped, it is the two other Es that define her. A woman who is well-informed (Educated), well-trained and encouraged to grow and improve further (Empowered) is what makes one well armed.

Let’s hear what you think. Please comment and share about what makes you, or the woman in your life, a Well-Armed Woman. Or share your thoughts on what makes a Well-Armed Woman and what kinds of topics you would like me to discuss in future articles.

Let’s hear what you think. Please comment and share about what makes you, or the woman in your life, a Well Armed Woman. Or share your thoughts on what you think makes a Well Armed Woman and what kinds of topics you would like me to discuss in future articles.

One thing I know, is that each woman has her totally unique reason or combination of reasons as to why she owns a firearm, she has a unique life and lifestyle that it must fit within safely, and a unique body to not only handle her gun, but to carry it as well. There is nothing more beautiful than a Well-Armed Woman!

Carrie Lightfoot is owner of The Well Armed Woman and guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. Join the dynamic group of women shooters on Facebook or Twitter and visit www.thewellarmedwoman.com

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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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Let's Talk Shot Selection

 
by Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

Have you ever been hunting with someone who just takes the world's worst shots? How about someone who messes up the easiest of hunts? Well, I know a few people like that, too. Some of them can't help that they are dumber than a coal bucket. I mean nobody wants to spend theis hard-earned money on guns, shells, dogs, decoys, waders and maybe a guided hunt just for someone to mess it all up at the moment of truth. Sometimes there is no help for someone who would screw up a one car funeral.

Shot selection is the most important part of duck or goose hunting. Being able to figure out when the best opportunity is to smoke that duck or goose is sometimes a big challenge. In most groups a single person is elected to do this job and make the call for everyone to shoot. No pressure, but don't screw up or you will be swimming with the fishes! Patience is the key, which is something that I have none of. In every aspect of life patience is not an option. For me to learn this conduct of life in the duck blind was at first impossible. However, as a youngster, the first time that I pulled up too quickly and found a boat paddle connected to my ear, I kinda learned the idea.

The thought that waterfowl hunters would even think about not letting that bird get close enough to read their mail before they shot was as scarce as duck teeth. Oh, but they are out there. If duck or goose hunting were just about seeing how far I could shoot then sail a bird and getting busted because I pulled up too quickly, there would be a lot more pros out there. Waterfowl hunting is an art. It is painting a picture in your mind of what you will shoot at or move to and then carrying it out with passion. I get so frustrated with people who take 50 and 60 yard shots with choke tubes the size of a .50 caliber mortar shell, then get aggravated when they can't find their duck or have trouble shooting a limit. 

Practicing the art of back-paddling and having a little patience will help any waterfowl hunter. For crying out loud, go hunting with someone who knows what they are doing. Watch when they give the signal to shoot. See where the birds are and how they got there, then start putting your own plan in place. Shot selection is easy but we can make it very difficult if we develop bad habits. Trust me: some hunters have two brains; one is missing and the other is looking for it. Excellence is your best "plus one." Find that one thing that you do well and add good shot selection to it. It will make you a better hunter.

Adam Brassfield is a Guest Contributor for Beretta. You can follow him on Facebook.

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Feminine instinct...

 

Erica Rodriguez from
Washington State,
and her Px4
 As you may have noticed, we have been talking more and more about female gun ownership, lately.

Beyond the trends, the statistics and the news, it is important to recognize that, overall, our industry does not make it easy for a woman to enter the sacred halls of firearms ownership.

Heck: I would go as far as saying that, in some cases, it is even hard for a woman to cross the threshold of a gun store. It can be intimidating for any newbie to approach what is seemingly a male-only environment as it is. Add to it the fact that we're talking about firearms, with all the reverential fear that society associates with it, and you have a recipe for detachment.
And, yet, women have been joining this incredibly fun world of firearms in drones, lately.
Some say it is a result of the increasingly-high divorce rate, which creates a growing number of single women living with kids, while others say that it simply the fun of going to the range and the consequent word-of-mouth activity that does the trick; whatever the reason, recent studies prove that more and more women own guns.

I feel, sadly, that the market has not kept up with this trend, and for two reason: on one side, it is still hard to find classes where women can feel free to ask questions and learn, with the exception of some great NRA programs and what I recently learn are events and seminars dedicated to women at Sportsman's Warehouse. I meet some women who have grown up using guns. Safety procedures, loading and unloading a gun, posture and recoil control are second nature to them. To Jenn, who lives in a large city in the Northeast, that was not the case. "Simply put," she told me recently, "I don't want to make a fool of myself. So I just postpone learning."

When it comes to product availability, too, our industry makes women face an unfair entry barrier, especially when it comes to shotguns, with length of pull offerings that sometime make shotgun shooting a less-than-enjoyable experience.

The greatest obstacle, however, is visible only when you scratch below the surface. It isn't as prominent and widespread as the other two, but it is a barrier nonetheless. When I ask people "what can this industry do to attract more women?" the answer can lean toward cliches like "pink guns" and "hot men selling guns." This tells me that - in the eyes of some - female gun ownership is still not a legitimate activity.
But do not fear: not all is lost. There are examples like the NRA programs I mentioned above, to help. But help also comes in an easy-to-consume online format. One of my favorite is a website called "Girl's guide to guns." I spoke to Natalie, one of the creators of the website, recently. Natalie wants women to know that there is a serious side, a life-saving one, to gun ownership, but there's a more complex and savory side to it, that is made of social interaction, of meaningful relationships, of team-play, and of the satisfaction of "smoking" a clay or hitting that elusive bullseye at the pistol range. Memories are made, and that is worth all the gunpowder in the world.


Women and guns also
means endless memories
in the field.
 Do you want an example of empowered, cool, gun-toting woman? Look no further than Destinee and her videos. Watch her handle a gun safely and with impressive familiarity and you can see why I think that firearms activities are "the great equalizer." Then, if you're a guy, get in line: you're not the only one who wants to date her!

The truth, if you talk to some neurologists, is that women's brains are better equipped to be good shots: a woman's brain is more able to focus on what's directly in front of them, and can better withstand the repetitive and sometime monotonous patterns of clay shooting without wandering off.

Now: on to you. Are you a woman who shoots? What has been your experience, when you started shooting? Are you a woman who isn't shooting yet? What's holding you back? Are you someone with an opinion on the subject, regardless of your gender? Help us get better at providing the right solution to current and prospective women shooter, and let's make 2012 the year of the gentler, armed sex.

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The Toughest Waterfowl Gun Ever!

 
By Adam Brassfield - Pro Staff Contributor

Every single duck season I listen to hunters swear by their gun. They say it is the toughest gun ever made. Then about two weeks into season they are swearing at it, throwing it in the truck and changing stories. I only have one response: "If you are up to your butt in alligators, it is hard to remember that you just came to drain the swamp." Translation, if you are not shooting a Beretta A400 Xtreme then you can wish in one hand and crap in the other to see which fills up faster!


The reason I say this is I used to be in that group. I shot guns because of the tradition of my family or I saw a long bearded man shoot one on TV. It is so easy to become an industry "go around". Shooting a different gun than you did last season. When the rubber meets the road there is only one that stands alone when the bad weather moves in, Beretta. Now, you probably are justified to say "he is really harping on that Beretta." Answer: Yes I am and proud of it.


There is a difference in someone being paid to say good things about a gun on television and someone who actually believes in what they are saying. Bottom line is, I have said this before, tough hunts don't last but tough guns do and that is why I shoot the Beretta A400 Xtreme.

I leave you with this story. Towards the end of the season we hunted a day where the weather was everything from snow to hard sleet with the temps in the upper teens. Two of the men hunting with us that morning were shooting another gun that has to do with an eagle and by the end of the hunt they were shooting our Beretta's because there guns would not cycle in the extreme conditions. The moral of that story is if you are shooting a hammer then everything is a nail, but if you lie down with dogs don't cry when you get the fleas.

A true duck hunter has to get to a place in his life where he swallows his pride and decides he is going to shoot the best. I know this because I had to do it myself. So, go get you a Beretta A400 Xtreme and quit getting advice on the color of your car from a blind man.


Adam Brassfield is a Guest Contributor for Beretta. You can follow him 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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Fast and furious (deer)

 
(by Mark Joyce - Guest Contributor)

A few days ago, I harvested a great-looking deer. Here's how it went...
Equipment Used: Beretta 390 with a fully rifled cantilever barrel from Beretta. Burris Fullfield II 3-9x40 scope. Remington 385 grain, 2 3/4" AccuTip slugs.
Got in the stand at about 1:30 on Monday, 11/14/11. It was the first low wind day in about the last three days. Heavy winds and rain finally moved out and the afternoon was almost totally calm. We are about 4 days past the full moon and the time was right for big deer to be on their feet looking for does.
I was in a elevated ground blind on one of the few hills in the flat land corn country of Newton Co., IN. At about 3:15 PM I heard some movement in the thick brush to the NW of my stand. Close, very close. Since the wind was so low the noise was easily recognized as that of a deer. The snap of a twig really echoed. Before I knew it, there he stood, out of the brush and on the edge of a cut corn field. And only 20 yards away. I was low and out of sight in the blind so he never saw me. All I needed to do was stand and take the shot. But, first, I had to get the safety pushed over to the "fire" position. But, with him being so close, I really had to be careful not to snap it into the "fire" position.


I managed to get it to the fire position, stand and take aim. The deer, at this point, was only 27 yards away and gave me just enough of a quartering away shot. As soon as I pulled the trigger and saw him hunch up his back, I knew the shot was good. He still managed to jump over a fence he was standing next to, but it didn't matter. He ran about 50 yards into a cut corn field and piled up, DOA.


The whole encounter took less time than it probably took you to read this. But that's how it goes. Two minutes worth of excitement that creates memories for a lifetime.


Did you harvest your first buck yet? How did it go?

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