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Helice is Hot in the USA

Federal Gold Medal International Paper

The Silver Legacy Casino, Sage Hill Sporting Clays, and Bornaghi USA Shot shells hosted the four-day Helice Flyer Tournament on Nov. 14th, a Thursday, 15th, 16th, and 17th. Helice is a French word-meaning propeller, although the game originated in Italy the French name stuck. The game originated in Europe as a replacement for live bird shooting and has been growing rapidly in the U.S. When you see top names like Jon Kruger, Scott Robertson, and Ceasar Bornaghi competing in Reno, you know the game is hot, and offers a challenging competition for all.

The Helice Target is an orange brittle plastic propeller 11” across which flies irregularly much like a Dove or Pigeon and it’s flight is affected by the wind as well. Attached in the center is a 4” white plastic dome which must be removed from the prop and which must fall within the designated ring as in live bird shooting. The traps are oscillating and when the bird is called for you never know in which direction the bird will take off in or whether it will skim right above the ground much like a rabbit target or shoot straight up like a Teal. It’s more difficult that you think. Trap shooters would not tend to like the game because they wouldn’t be able to shoot 100 straight. As a matter of fact, 30 straight targets have never been broken in the game, and on Saturday there was a prize of $25,000 to the first person that could. On Saturday, there was a strong wind with thirty mile an hour wind gusts, which dashed everyone’s hopes of winning the prize. It was thought that the insurance company covering the prize money called in a marker and requested the wind.

On Thursday Ceasar Bornaghi won the preliminary 25-bird race with a perfect score of 25, quite a feat in itself. On Friday there was a thirty-bird race in Event I that four shooters tied with a 29, one bird short of the elusive 30. The four shooters were Rick Mein, T.J. Heller, David Alcoriza and Jon Kruger. Rick Mein killed all five of his targets and won the gold coin and the sterling silver Champion buckle. In Event II on Saturday it was a totally different day with the wind playing an important part. If targets were hit, the wind carried the witness out of the ring. David Alcoriza and Scott Robertson managed to top the field with 21 out of 30 birds with David winning the shoot-off. Event 4 on Sunday was finally won by Rick Mein after a four round shoot-off which required them to move back one meter an to increase the bird speed by another 1000 RPM. Scott Robertson won the High-Over-All Champion with a 77x90 and Stacie Segebart won the women’s with a 56x90. The top Veteran was Bob Clement with a 65 and the top junior was Matthew Peterson with a 64.

If you want to get into the hottest shooting money game and experience some of the most challenging shot gunning you’ll ever have, you have to get involved in shooting Helice or Wild Bird. For more information on shoot schedules and joining the sanctioning bodies contact the following:

For international competition (FITASC affiliated):

United States Flyer Federation
Attn: Mr. Peter Dale
2959 W. 47th St.
Chicago, IL 60632
T. 773-847-6734

For United States competition only:

United States Helice Association
Attn: Gary McNiel
3299 West Hwy. 36
Hamilton, TX 76531
T. 254-386-0041
F. 254-383-0045

Wild Bird Society
Attn: Jerry Sinkovec
2915 Estrella Brillante NW
Albuquerque, NM 87120
T & F 505-836-1206

Federal Gold Medal International Paper

The Federal Gold Metal International Paper shotshell is a pleasant and effective shell to shoot for both the first time shooter and the competitive shooter. It’s also available in plastic, but the paper has advantages. At a sporting clay class conducted by the late Ed Scherer, we measured the recoil of many shotshells on his recoil gauge in 20 and 12 gauge, both reloads and factory. To our amazement, the Federal Paper International came out with the lowest recoil, even lower than the 20 gauge plastic shotshells, which most people tend to use to introduce new shooters into shotgunning. The secret is in the paper hull. The paper absorbs some of the recoil/shock as the gas expands, and the result is lower felt recoil on the shooter. The Federal load NR. N119 is for a 2 ¾” shell with a 3 ¼ Dram Equiv., and a shot charge of 24 grams (just a few pellets less than a 7/8’s load). It leaves the barrel at 1325 FPS, which is legal for all shotgun sports. It’s available in both 7 ½ shot, which is copper plated and 8 ½ size shot. Remember the physics phrase, “For every action there is a reaction”? Well, the less shot weight you have to push out the barrel, the less recoil there will be on your shoulder.

At the Holland & Holland School at Vail, Colorado the only 12 gauge shells used were the Federal International Paper. That was my introduction to shooting paper hulls along with 8 ½ shot and 24 gram loads. 24 grams is just a few pellets lighter than a 7/8 oz. load. Their reason for choosing the shells was that fact that the students would be shooting over 250 rounds a day and they want to minimize shooting fatigue. I was impressed by the lack of recoil and the effectiveness of the shells. As an instructor myself, I recommend to students shooting a lighter load in training sessions. There are other reasons as well for shooting a lighter load.

On the close in targets and the medium range targets the 24 gram loads with 8 ½ shot just smoked the targets when you were on them. It was impressive. I wouldn’t have thought that such a light shot weight could do so well. What was really impressive were the long distance crossing targets. At fifty and sixty yards, the targets looked like they were in slow motion. When we found the right lead the targets were hit hard, they were crunched. Here is the kicker, throughout the whole course; none of us changed our choke tubes. They told us to leave whatever choke tubes we would normally use in our guns in. Everyone was either shooting skeet or improved cylinder choke tubes throughout the whole course, regardless of the distance to the targets. I should point out we were shooting at an altitude of about 8,500 feet, so the pattern won’t open up much because of the thinner air. The skeet chokes were effective at sixty yards with 8 ½ shot and 24 gram loads. That was amazing. At one point, on the last day of the course at Vail, after I had already fired over 200 rounds, Keith Davies, one of the instructors from Holland & Holland in England, had me shoot about 100 rounds in less than a half hour at a series of targets. I was amazed at not feeling any the worse for all the rounds I had just fired.

If you have a young person or a women who hasn’t fired a shotgun before, the Federal International Paper would be the ideal choice for them to begin shooting with, even better than a twenty gauge, which most people tend to use. For the competitive shooter, the same load is ideal. What is so good about it is that it helps you find the proper lead on targets. Why, you ask. With the shorter shot string and the narrower effective cone of destruction (with each 1/8 oz less of shot you use, you decrease the effective hit diameter by two to three inches) you learn very quickly what the proper lead is and the relationship of the clay bird to the barrel. As you go up in shot size, you also reduce the effective hit diameter by one to two inches. 7/8 oz of 8 ½ ‘s puts more pellets in the shot string than 1 oz of 8’s. This is why I feel 8 ½ shot size is the perfect size to use for all clay target shooting. Since the Holland & Holland school I reload all trap, skeet and sporting clay loads with 8 ½ shot. The only time I use 7 ½ shot is for long distance rabbit targets. When you can smoke targets in practice with 24 grams of 8½ size shot regularly, you’ll be much better able to kill those sporting clay targets in competition with 24 gram or 1 oz. loads, or even 1 1/8 oz. loads if you really feel it’s necessary. It’s also been found that in a 1 1/8 oz load, on an average, only 20 % of the pellets actually come in contact with the target. That makes for a lot of wasted lead out there. In England, where many of the competitions require that you shoot only a 7/8 oz. load, they found that scores went up. The change was that shooters were dealing with less recoil, and were better able to deal with second shots and had less shooting fatigue that would reduce their ability to react to the targets.

I see a lot of shooters using 1 1/8 oz. loads and chipping the targets more often than hitting them solid, or smoking them. Their shooting is probably suffering from the amount of recoil their dealing with in shooting 1/18 oz. loads and some bad technique. It’s been found that scores have gone up when competitive shooters started shooting 7/8 oz. loads over 1 1/8 oz. loads. If shooters started using 24 gram loads, they might be missing a lot of targets to start with, but it would help teach them proper leads and to focus on the target better. Then in competition, they could go back to a 1 oz. or 1 1/8 oz. load that would give them a little more of an edge, if they felt they needed it. Try a case or a couple boxes of the Federal International paper, I know you’ll like shooting them, you might even decide to make them your regular shell for practice or for competition. And if you’re introducing someone to shotgunning, it’s the only shell to use.

For further information on Federal shotshells write: Federal Cartridge Company, Anoka, MN 55303 or call them at 612-323-2300.

Reviewed by:
Jerry Sinkovec