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WTC-aerial clay

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A recent match I attended had a stage with six shotgun targets.  There were three steel poppers that launch a clay target into the air when hit.  As a side note, when we use these "clay poppers" in cowboy matches the clay is usually a bonus target.  In the WBAS match each steel popper and each clay was a target to be engaged.


The shooter in question hit the first five targets but jacked out a live shell when the last clay target was in the air.  After the clay hit the ground, the shooter (with no prompting by the TO) loaded a new shell through the port and fired it into the berm.  He went on to engage rifle and pistol targets without incident.  He was assessed one miss for the clay not broken in the air.


WTC #1:  Was it necessary for the shooter to fire the 6th shot to avoid an additional penalty?  I say no because he "engaged" the clay by cycling the shotgun and pointing it at the target, and because this was a moving target that could not be "re-engaged" (unlike a static target), there was nothing to be gained by loading and firing the additional shell.


WTC #2:  Is there any penalty for loading and firing the extra shell, given that there was no way to re-engage that target (that would seem like a "hard horse" call to me).


Hypothetical WTC #3:  Assume the shooter fires at the last popper but fails to drop it.  Since that target is the activator for the aerial clay, is there any way for the shooter to avoid being assessed two misses for one "missed" target?


As an editorial comment, I really enjoy reactive steel targets but they can lead to some interesting WTC situations.

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  • 3 months later...

The situation that prompted the question was a jacked out shell.  Just to clarify, let's assume there are six shotgun targets, three clay launching poppers, each with a clay to be engaged in the air.


Shooter engages the first popper but misses it, so no clay is launched.  Same result with second and third popper.  Assuming shotgun is not the last gun on the stage the shooter has to eject the unfired rounds before discarding the shotgun.


Call is six misses but there is no additional penalty for the unfired rounds, right?

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With aerial targets it is always important that the MD address these in the stage instructions.  Either put out a static target for birds that aren't launched or allowing you to re-engage the knock down as the extra round for the bird and at that point the bird is irrelevant.



There are a number of ways to address it and these are a couple.

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Stage conventions don't cover the complex situations of popper/thrower targets.  They usually HAVE to be explained in the stage description.


If it's not clear in the stage description, then shooters need to ask their Posse Marshal to get clarification BEFORE anyone shoots the stage.  If you don't discover that there are some problems with how the stage is to be shot until someone tries to shoot the stage in the wrong way, you put at least that shooter at a disadvantage, and the confusion over what is to be done (for situations like activator was missed, activator didn't work with a reasonable hit, bird was already on ground when shooter attempted a shot, etc) can even cause posses to have to reshoot a stage (has happened at WR and EOT before, so don't think it is all that far out in left field).


But remember some basics:

a target/prop/actuator failure is not normally a penalty to shooter - shooter should "shoot where it was" (or close to that if safety is compromised)


if shooter was slow to get on the bird, at least an attempt has to be made to safely "engage" where the bird would have been - and even pulling the trigger on an empty gun would be an engagement (by our rules).  Doesn't require an actual shot to have been fired.



All these complications usually mean that well-run large matches don't use any "action" targets except for knockdown targets (individual and racks of targets).  It just gets messy and can become contentious.  If you do use a target on which proper target action is required to continue with the shooting sequence (pulling an activator lever, shotgun flyers, etc), put that action target into the stage at the very beginning of stage, where it is easy to restart the shooter after fixing the target failure.


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WTC #2:  Is there any penalty for loading and firing the extra shell,


Even in Wild Bunch, a shooter is allowed to replace a jacked out round that he did not get to fire.  That is NOT considered an extra shell, because it replaced a jacked out shell.


There is never a penalty for replacing a round that is jacked out, knocked off the lips of a magazine while inserting into a 1911, clearing an unfired jammed round, loading a new round to replace a dud round from which the bullet did not leave the case, or replacing a round that rolls out of the open action of a gun.



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More good pointers.


Two local clubs used activators that had to be shot.  Those were cowboy matches but the stage instructions covered what to do if the shooter missed the activator.  These matches were after the WBAS match that prompted this topic so I was very interested in knowing how to shoot it or call it.


We've been shooting clay-launching poppers with shotguns for years in cowboy matches but we never faced the one shot/two misses problem because of the Comstock Rule.

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Hi Abe

At last year's NY state WB we had 2 actuators, each throwing two clays in a V together.  It was great fun.

As Sassy mentioned, usually the stage description will let you re-engage the actuator for just one miss.  However, that is not always the case.  If there is nothing in the stage description just make sure you hit the actuator.  All shooters are in the same boat.

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