Ask the experts

It’s time for the Clay Shooting Magazine Q & A, so let us know if you have any questions, we have the experts to answer them!

Fiber Tip

Q: One of the shooting grounds I am hoping to visit insists on fibre wad cartridges only. Other shooters have told me they don’t like using fibre wads as they feel they don’t perform so well as plastic. Is that correct, and how big is the difference? Is it enough to make a difference to my scores?

Richard Atkins says: With single-use plastics falling out of favour, an increasing number of grounds are going fibre-only, so more and more shooters will find themselves facing this question. The simple answer is that the performance of plastic and fibre wads is now closer than ever – so close that you’re unlikely to notice any difference.  

For cartridge manufacturers, it’s more challenging to make fibre wad cartridges that perform quite so well as a similar grade plastic wad load.

However, modern loading machines, quality control and closer tolerances on improved components have resulted in the gap being closed to a level that, for the majority of shooters, the difference is unlikely to have any great impact upon their ability to break clays.

Certainly for most shooters, getting some good coaching will have far more impact on results than the wads in your cartridges! 

The increasing need to use fibre wad loads has brought the best out in cartridge producers. Looking through past test results we have carried in this magazine you will see how close the pattern, performance and consistency results have been between the fibre and plastic wad versions of similar grade cartridges, such as Eley Superbs, and Hull Pro One and Pro Fibre. A greater difference can arise in some budget cartridges, but even they are becoming more consistent.

I always recommend that shooters pattern their gun with whatever chokes and cartridges they plan to use, and this is especially worthwhile with fibre wad cartridges, particularly if you have one of the modern guns with ‘overbored’ barrels.

My tests have occasionally thrown up some unexpected results with that combination, and it’s best to make sure you’re getting the patterns you would expect.

Tired eyes

Q: I’m interested in learning more about eye fatigue. I have been in a plateau, stuck in C Class for almost a year, and cannot seem to improve despite professional lessons. I am 55 years old and a left-handed shooter, left eye dominant with some right drift. A recent eye exam showed results all normal with 20/15 vision. I have a desk job, working at a computer screen eight hours a day.

I have recently experienced some headaches, but no eye pain, dryness or vision issues. Living where I do in the States, I typically travel three or four hours to shoot tournaments, and normally shoot two or three events at a competition, 150-200 birds per shoot. I have never excelled in the second or third event; in fact my scores always decline the longer I shoot.

I can kill targets in the morning and then miss the same targets in the afternoon, even though the sight picture is exactly the same. I am wondering if I have eye fatigue and if so what can I do about it.

Ed Lyons says: It can be useful to think of our eyes like two video cameras that are constantly panning around collecting both static and dynamic information. Each eye (camera) is controlled by six muscles that are responsible for lateral, vertical and torsional movement.

All this fine muscle control ensures the two eyes work in sync with each other, delivering a clear, stable binocular picture to the visual cortex in the brain. We also have a muscle-controlled focussing system in our eyes, where the lens is flexed and relaxed in response to the proximity of the object we are looking at.

Like any muscle system in the body, our eyes can be influenced by stress, dehydration, blood sugar levels, medication and of course, fatigue. The focussing system is also affected by age, so we typically find it harder to read close-up once we hit our mid forties.

It sounds like you have excellent visual acuity, but may well be experiencing digital eye fatigue from the computer use, and certainly some tiredness in the distance after a long drive or a morning session.

This ties in with your observation about the ‘right drift’ which can be exacerbated by eye fatigue. Targets that look as though they should be dead keep on going because the ‘off-eye’ has given you the wrong information.

There are certain spectacle lenses designed to reduce eye tiredness for computer work and driving. I like and regularly prescribe Hoya’s Workstyle Screen and Sync lenses for intermediate viewing, along with EnRoute and EnRoute Pro for distance.

There are also some vision training drills you may benefit from, but these would need to be prescribed for you on an individual basis as different cases require different treatment.

Bearing in mind where you live, I’d heartily recommend Dr Rich Colo in CT – he’s a shooter and has been working with shotgunners for over 30 years. He runs clinics with Will Fennel too, so it would be well worth getting in touch.

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