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Is My TSC Good for Me?

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by GrandpasArms, May 13, 2011.

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  1. GrandpasArms

    GrandpasArms TS Supporters TS Supporters

    Nov 11, 2010
    About 40 miles west of Chicago, IL
    I often engage in discussions about costs and prices. Some say one club charges too much, or the shells are too expensive, or lead prices are changing, or travel costs are eating me alive, or - well, you've heard them as well. "Too much" is a vague term and it changes with the topic under consideration. Is $2,500 too much for a BT99? How about a K80? Is $3.00 cheap for 12 gauge shells or is $10.00 too much? I put my thoughts on this into the following piece. I considered submitting for publication, but offering it here seems good. I hope I am not overstepping any bounds of etiquette.


    Everything has value - of course. Some things are more valuable than others and it is highly unlikely that anything could actually have a negative value.

    Quality and value are almost synonymous. Higher quality items are more valuable because they can offer us greater utility (usefulness) for longer periods of time. Most would agree that high quality items perform better, look better, are more durable, and often give us more pleasure. They have good value.

    We’d all like to think that “quality” is objective, based on hard facts and precise measurements. While there is likely to be something objectively different between two items that are similar but costing different amounts, there are also many elements of the items that we like or dislike - merely because of our own personal preferences. I might like detailed engravings on the metal parts of a shotgun. The scenes don’t make the gun shoot better, but the quality of the engraved gun is higher in the eyes of the person who prefers them. Others might prefer the sleek lines of a gun that has just minimal decorations. In the hands of a consistent shooter, each gun can perform equally well. Either model may cost more because quality (value) depends on a subjective element - preference.

    Price is often used to determine quality. Yes, we can “pay too much” for something - receiving a poor quality item in return for our money. Still, there is a strong propensity for us to, “get what we pay for”. A product built with high quality usually costs more and has a higher value.

    I have liked “things that go boom” since childhood. I built rockets and any number of things that made booming noises - and firecrackers were a joy for many reasons. I made a rocket once with match heads in a paper tube I had lined with aluminum foil and I was absolutely delighted when it launched. My mother wasn't thrilled with the singed eyebrows and the burned match heads embedded on my forehead, but I was oblivious because the darn thing flew more than a block and landed in one piece. Of course, there were the tiny match head rockets and the tennis ball cannons.

    Shooting guns at clay targets is great fun and achieving good scores is rewarding. The almost instant feedback after pulling a trigger is satisfying. I prefer shotgun sports over “punching holes in paper”. I prefer seeing my target disintegrate in a puff of dust over waiting to count how many holes are in the paper.

    After some years of practice I’ve gotten good, not great, but good. I started serious clay-breaking in my early 60s. By serious I mean one or two days a week at a practice field and one evening at a local league. I can crush clay with ease until my mind catches up and forces a miss.

    When I first started, I believed the gun, cartridge, sights, or choke would help break more birds. This is fairly common, but often unsupported by experience. I’ve stood beside shooters who crushed 25 straight with an 80 year old gun their grandad gave them and others who are happy to break 20 with their highly engraved gun that cost as much as a small car. Of course, the gun itself is important, but not as important as the shooter. The same is true with all the other aspects -gauge, chokes, barrel length, chokes, and so on. The master secret to good shooting always seems to boil down to practice - lots of it.

    Where is this going? Quality, value, shooting, scores, and all the rest cost money. I can afford the sport, but I am by no means so flush in the cash department that I don’t have to be careful about spending money wisely. I’ve looked for a way to objectively identify quality and value so that they meet my preferences and don’t ruin me financially.

    Like all passions, my involvement with shooting must be tempered. For example, do I want to spend cash on a hand tooled shell bag, or is the canvass one perfectly fine for now? Should I buy that new un-single or am I doing well with my BT-99? Should I buy a special recoil pad, a new suit, a different car, a bigger house, or a new computer? While money is the standard means of comparing potential expenses, I have needed for something more, an easy process that identifies the appropriate value.

    Here’s a system for you might like - especially if you often find yourself torn between buying something or not. It’s my Trap-Skeet Calculation, or TSC. Here’s how it works. A round of shooting has a fixed cost. It varies, but generally, it costs $5.00. Then, there’s the cost of ammunition. A box of 25 reload shot shells is less than $4.00. Factory loads are higher. Given a good mix of reload and factory means an average of $5.00 for a box of 25 shells. My TSC is simply the cost for a round plus the cost of shells. There are other pieces (tips, travel, dinner and beers after shooting, and so on), but the simple sum of $10 is useful for my TSC.

    I use my TSC to evaluate any proposed expense. A new shotgun might cost $2,000, which is 200 TSCs - 200 practice rounds. Would I be better off shooting those rounds or having a new gun and not shooting any rounds, or a new pair of high end shooting glasses instead of the rounds they’d “cost”? These are either/or situations, not both/and. Lets’ say I normally shoot 20 rounds each week. Two hundred TSC would be the equivalent of 10 weeks of shooting. Am I willing to NOT shoot 200 rounds, to NOT associate with my friends, to NOT get the practice in? None of us can do all those things if we spend our TSCs on something else because it’s either/or, not both/and.

    The TSC is a basic method that helps me make decisions.The parameters were set up front, before I’m faced with making a purchase decision. The TSC is valid for me. It has value.

    I find that I use my TSC construct on most spending decisions. What is the TSC value of that new suit, those boots, or a new shooting vest? When I pose the choice to myself in terms of the TSC, I am more easily able to decide whether I am comfortable trading a certain number of rounds for something else. I don't engage the TSC process when considering going to dinner with my wife, for example, but I might temper where we go and how many adult beverages I order based on the TSC cost. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

    I don’t need to keep a log book or prepare a written budget. I’ve been around long enough to know how I much I can spend on incidentals each month or year, but the question has usually been on how much I can spend, and on what? I now have a method that works for me. Perhaps you have something different. I think the important thing is having something you have consciously worked out in advance, that works most of the time, is easy to use, and which yields the results you want. Champion stock traders will tell you to pick a system, make a plan, and follow the plan. Making changes to the plan while it is in play leads to disaster. Do you have something like the TSC that works for you? If not, get busy and come up with something. Simple is best.
  2. sliverbulletexpress

    sliverbulletexpress TS Member

    Jul 1, 2009
    Interesting. I usually put off big purchases for a couple of weeks to see if I really want whatever it is, many times figure out it's not really worth it. Otherwise it's do I have the cash or not?
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