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
Where do you conduct your shooting instruction?
shooting methods do you teach?
How much shooting experience do your students typically
you shoot with your students during a lesson?
qualifications do you have to be a shooting
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
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
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
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"
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!
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.
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.
Most students of Double A Shooting Instruction can be considered either
"beginner" or "intermediate" in terms of
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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..
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.