Kevin has been trying to get me to go shooting trap and skeet with him since last year so I finally decided to take the plunge and go to a 2 hour beginners class at Black Wing Shooting Center in Delaware, Ohio. First off let me just say that Black Wing is, in my opinion, the “Cadillac” of shooting centers in central Ohio. They have an indoor pistol and rifle ranges and a large outdoor trap and skeet range as well as a large retail store. I have always thought their prices were a bit high but the facilities are top notch. There is even a snack bar and lounge area behind the retail area that seems to be catered toward the large trap and skeet crowds that gather there year round on league nights and the weekend.
Back to the class, as way of saying thanks to Kevin for helping me with the man cave project, I also bought him a class seat and took him with me. Long story short, I had a blast. Our instructor, Bill, is a retired Army Master Sergeant and has a background in SOCOM type units as well as over 35 years of trap and skeet experience. He was a great instructor, other than the obvious classroom safety and theory portion he excelled on the range and was able to stand behind each student and analyze our issues just by watching our barrels move. On top of it all he even stayed out there with us an extra half hour on the range and also helped me in their retail gun vault as well (more on that in a minute). He was a great guy and a major factor in a few decisions that I made after the class…
Our class instructor, Bill. He is holding the Browning BT-99 trap gun that I considered buying used (not this particular one) before I set on a Stoeger Condor Competition.
The trap and skeet ranges at Black Wing. They are going to have a sporting clays (kind of like a golf course for skeet with various shooting points and scenarios rather than golf holes) in late spring in the woods off in the distance.
Kevin getting some pointer from Bill after a shot. Kevin was by far the best shot in our group. He is using a Franchi I-12 auto loading 12 gauge. The poor guy between us wanted to use a Remington 870 pump (a nice gun itself) but wasn’t able to break a single clay the entire class…and he drove here from somewhere close to Cincinnati to take this class.
I had spent a bit of time on line prior to the class researching trap and skeet and was surprised with the amount of info that there is on the subject. I was equally surprised to find that the headquarters for the Amateur Trap Association (ATA) and Trap Shooters Hall of Fame is located right here in Ohio, Vandalia, Ohio to be exact (just North of Dayton). I also found that the state trap championships are shot just a bit North of where I live too. Kind of nice to have that much tradition right in your own backyard when starting a sport. I had also done some research on line of what to expect to pay if I wanted to go into this sport in terms of a firearm and gear setup. The price of competition guns for trap can be upwards of $10,000 with most falling between the $1,500 - $3,500 range for “basic models”. That was more money than I could budget for a hobby right now. I was looking at some used guns on line and locally and found a Browning BT-99 single barrel trap gun at Vance’s for $699 (the retail new for about $1,400). It was in decent shape and I even got to shoot one at the Black Wing class just by chance. A great gun for sure. Very single purposed for trap and at that it apparently excels based upon the glowing recommendations that I got there at the range. Talking to some people I had been warned that a single barreled gun like the BT-99 would only be used for trap so skeet and sporting clays would not be a possibility in the future if that is where I wanted to go at some point. For that I would need at least a 2 barrel over/under gun to be a competitor.
I had also looked at a model by Stoeger called the Condor Competition that retailed for $629 on their web site. You may recall that for a time I owned a Stoeger Cougar 9mm pistol and was very pleased with the fit and finish of it. It was made in Turkey under supervision by Stoeger and the Condor is made in Brazil under the same supervision and quality control. I had read some bad reports about the Condor online but mostly they were older models and from people who boasted that there $4,000 race guns would just smoke the Condor in Competition. That’s just fine, I do not intend on being at the Olympics in 2 years shooting trap for a gold medal or anything like that. I plan on shooting casually with Kevin and other friends on the weekends and maybe even joining a league at some point. I had asked around on a firearms board I post on frequently about the Stoeger and George from MadOgre.com (who just happens to work in a gun store in Utah) replied with the following comment:
“Allow me to chime in. I've shot one.
It's not the most elegant of Over Unders... but like Stoeger's other shotguns, they are built like tanks. They are solid. Rugged. Reliable.
They are good guns and I wouldn't hesitate to buy one myself.”
That along with Bill’s recommendation and my own experience with Stoeger and I went ahead and pulled the trigger.
Stoeger Condor Competition 12 Gauge
The same time I bought the gun I also got a basic outdoor membership to Black Wing ($175) that gives me 10 rounds of free trap for the next year (a $90 value), discounted trap for up to 2 people ($6 versus $9) and 5% off of all my purchases, including the Stoeger I was getting that day. The discount of the retail price brought it down to $550 from their $579 asking price, nice. I also picked a 12 gauge bore snake (been wanting one of those anyway), a basic shooting vest and a couple of boxes of trap ammo.
I have yet to shoot the gun (we had some other things to do, otherwise I would have taken it out back and shot a round) but I like it already. It is a classic break action over/under 12 gauge and has the following feature…
- It’s a left handed model..if that just isn’t karma or whatever telling me to buy this I don’t know what is…its got a palm swell for lefties as well as a “fitted” recoil pad
- replaceable chokes
- ejectors (shell pops out instead of needed to be pulled when you open the action)
- A manual tang safety/barrel selection switch (you can choose to shoot either barrel first, nice if you happen to have them choked differently for different types of targets)
- Automatic safety engages when the action is open
- an adjustable comb (cheek piece on the stock) for custom fit
- dual bead sights (though I found out that you don’t exactly sight in a shotgun in trap but rather get aligned with gun and let it follow your sight path)
- Ported barrels for reduced recoil
- A single trigger inertia firing system
- High gloss wood with checkering
It lacks some of the engraving and other “bling” found on the expensive Italian heirloom pieces that I had scene on other competition models, but hey its basic and functional…just like me. As soon as I get it back to Black Wing to shoot I will post more pics and a review.