HOME Quality Instruction for the Wingshooter and Clay Target Enthusiast  


Frequently Asked Questions

I recently started bird hunting, and am having trouble hitting birds.  Can you help me?

I can hit birds in the field okay, but I find clay shooting more difficult.  Why is that?

Where do you conduct your shooting instruction?

What shooting methods do you teach?

How much shooting experience do your students typically have?  

Do you shoot with your students during a lesson?

What qualifications do you have to be a shooting instructor?

What type of instruction should I select...individual instruction or clinic?

Do I need to bring my own gun?

What type of gun is appropriate for clay target shooting?

Do I need to bring ammunition?

How do I sign up for a lesson or shooting clinic?

Can you help me with my gun fit?

How long is a typical lesson?

How much does a lesson cost?

What other instructional opportunities will you be offering?


I recently started bird hunting, and am having trouble hitting birds.  Can you help me?  

Yes.  While bird shooting and clay shooting are two different things, both are conducted with a shotgun, both require proper technique and both require proper fundamentals if you are to be successful at either.  The good news is, many of the techniques and fundamentals required for successful wingshooting are also the techniques and fundamentals required for successful clay shooting.

With clay targets, you can get thousands of opportunities (i.e. shots fired at targets) to learn from in just a few years.  It may take a lifetime of hunting for some to get a hundred opportunities at wild birds!    With proper introductory instruction in skeet or sporting clays, you will be on your way to bagging more birds in the field and will also have a way to practice in the off season.  However, be careful...you may become "hooked" for life!! 

Back to Top

I can hit birds in the field okay, but I find clay shooting more difficult.  Why is that?

This is a common issue heard by many shooting instructors.  Most hunters who can hit the basic shots in the field such as pointed birds, birds flushed within gun range and close-decoying waterfowl consider themselves successful.  The reasons they are successful on these shots are because the shots are relatively close and an "instinctive" approach (usually swinging rapidly from behind the bird) can be used most of the time.  However, these same hunters are often frustrated by missing what seem to be "easy" targets on the skeet field or sporting clays course.

Many successful wingshooters can quickly become consistent and competent clays shots by simply being taught a few fundamentals.  These fundamentals often include methods of obtaining lead that can be used both on the clays course and in the field.  By learning these fundamentals, not only will clay shooting become easier, but you can impress your friends in the field when you show them how to pass-shoot geese or double up on a covey of quail!

Back to Top

Where do you conduct your shooting instruction?  

Most shooting instruction in the Des Moines, Iowa area is conducted at the New Pioneer Gun Club or the Ames Izaak Walton League.  Other club locations as well as private locations are also available.  Please check out the Teaching Locations page for a current list of clubs.

Ben is also willing to travel out of the Des Moines, Iowa area to your home club for instruction.  Additional fees will apply to cover the cost travel.

Back to Top

What shooting methods do you teach?  

Ben is familiar with several methods, including NSSA, NSCA, and ATA approved methods.  Instead of forcing students to use a single method, parts and pieces of different methods are typically used to fit a particular student's needs, natural ability and the type of shot being taken.  Students are also taught the reasons for using different methods, when and how each method should be applied, and the risks associated with each method.

Back to Top

How much shooting experience do your students typically have?  

Most students of Double A Shooting Instruction can be considered either "beginner" or "intermediate" in terms of experience.  

The typical "beginner" student covers a wide range of students.  Many beginners have never fired a shotgun and the world of shooting seems like a brand new (and sometimes intimidating!) experience.  The other type of "beginners" have been hunters, or around guns all of their lives but have never tried the clay target sports.  The goal of Double A Shooting Instruction is to give ALL beginning shooters a highly positive (and fun!) experience their first time out!

Intermediate students have typically have a good deal of experience on clays but are struggling for consistency in their game and/or desire higher scores.  Many times the problem lies in some fundamental physical issue (such as gun fit or eye dominance), a fundamental flaw in technique, or poor mental preparation.  More than one instructional session is usually required for the intermediate student and the student will often be given "homework" between sessions.  Many intermediate students sign up for the Performance Coaching Package as a way to break old habits and reach their goals.

Back to Top
 

Do you shoot with your students during a lesson?

Typically no.  As a student, you have paid for your lesson and it is your time so the focus will be entirely on you / your group.  It is also difficult for instructors to do two things well at one time (i.e. shoot and teach).  The only time Ben will ever shoot with you is at your request and to accomplish a specific learning objective.  For example, some students may prefer to go through a full round of skeet with an instructor to learn the sequence of a full round, rules, etiquette, etc.

Back to Top

What qualifications do you have to be a shooting instructor?

Ben Berka is a certified instructor with the National Skeet Shooting Association, National Sporting Clays Association and Amateur Trapshooting Association and has several hundred of hours of teaching experience to his credit.  In addition to national-level certification and teaching experience, Ben has been shooting clay targets in a formal environment since 1993 and has been competing in registered events since 1995.  Ben is also an assistant coach for the Iowa State University Trap and Skeet Club, coaching a group of students weekly throughout the school year.  

Ben has also spent countless hours of independent research to learn the latest shooting and teaching methods from other instructors, books and videos in order to benefit his students the most.  Unlike many other professional instructors whose focus is on being the best shooter on the circuit, Ben's focus is on becoming the best teacher in the industry.

Ben Berka is also an avid hunter and wingshooter and understands the needs of other wingshooters who are simply looking to bag more birds in the field.

Back to Top

What type of instruction should I select...individual instruction or clinic?  

This depends on your needs.  If you are a shooter (or would like to be a shooter) looking for more generalized information of a specific discipline or disciplines, a clinic is probably right for you.  Clinics have a set (but somewhat flexible) agenda for the session with specific learning objectives.  You will also be sent home with additional learning materials and resources at the end of a shooting clinic from which to study and continue learning.  Shooting clinics also offer the unique opportunity to meet new people and learn from the questions they ask of the instructor.

Individual instruction has some advantages for the person with a tight schedule or someone seeking instruction in a more private setting.  Individual instruction also gives the student more time to focus on individual areas of improvement.  Many times, individual instruction can also evolve into a series of meetings between student and instructor to help achieve the long-term goals of the student.

Back to Top

Do I need to bring my own gun?  

If you do not own a gun, a gun can be provided to you for the duration of the lesson at no cost.  However, if you own a gun it is recommended that you bring it so gun fit can be assessed using the gun you will use when the lesson is over.

Back to Top

What type of gun is appropriate for clay target shooting?  

Any modern-type shotgun capable of firing two shots in rapid succession.  Semi-automatics are a good choice for beginners due to their soft-recoiling properties and slightly lower price versus an over/under.  Gauge selection for beginners should usually be either 12 or 20 gauge and equipped with "skeet" or "improved cylinder" chokes for skeet or sporting clays.  

Back to Top

Do I need to bring ammunition?  

No.  The host gun club typically has the ammunition you will need.  If you are a beginner and would like to bring your own ammunition, stick with target loads and shot sizes of 7.5, 8, or 9 and try to avoid brands advertising "Hi-Velocity" or "Super Handicap" since these shells often cause excessive recoil.

Back to Top

How do I sign up for a lesson or shooting clinic?  

All individual and small group instruction can be arranged by contacting Ben Berka directly.  You can register for shooting clinics by downloading an application in the Clinic Registration portion of the website.

Back to Top

Can you help me with my gun fit?

Yes, absolutely.  Proper gun fit is one of the most important factors in successful shotgun shooting.  When meeting with Ben for the first time (usually at a clinic or lesson), gun fit is typically addressed before even firing a shot.  Improper gun fit is one of the leading causes of missing and inconsistency even among experienced hunters and clay shooters.

For those looking to achieve the perfect fit, a comprehensive gun fitting service is also available.

Back to Top

How long is a typical lesson?  

Most introductory lessons take about two hours.  Small group instruction can take slightly longer due to the individual attention given to each member of the group.  Lessons may run slightly longer for more experienced shooters and for sporting clays instruction.

Back to Top

How much does a lesson cost?  

The current rate for individual instruction is $60 per hour.  Small group instruction costs $100 per hour and is limited to 3 students.  These rates do not include targets, ammunition or any other range fees that might apply.  The cost for clinics will vary depending upon the content of the clinic and what other instructional materials are provided, so be sure to check the Clinic Registration page for the latest information..  

Back to Top

What other instructional opportunities will you be offering?  

Double A Shooting Instruction is always looking for new ways to create unique and fun learning opportunities.  Ben Berka is currently in the NSSA and NSCA "Instructor Certification Program" and as his certification level increases, he will likely be offering training opportunities for more experienced wing and clay shooters.  Be sure to check the Clinic Registration page for the latest schedule of clinics, courses and seminars.

Back to Top