When I have an opportunity to learn, I always try to take advantage of it, regardless of the subject. You just never know what you'll find of interest or how the knowledge gained may be of benefit.
Of course if I have an opportunity to be around others who have an interest in guns, ammo and related subjects, I'll do all that I can to take advantage of that. When I have the opportunity to be with true recognized experts in their fields, I consider that the most rare and golden opportunity to truly learn.
I have learned that we simply accept many things to be true without really questioning them. One example might be that the revolution which occurred a few decades ago now that gave us the plastic hull shotshell and the one piece plastic wad, provided us with the optimum performance that is to be expected from a shotshell.
What truly are the advantages of the plastic shotshell and plastic wad? I remember when the plastic shell was introduced and it was touted to be waterproof, thus solving the problem of wet paper hulls that might swell and not chamber in your gun. Wet hulls could also mean wet powder and that was never a good thing.
One piece plastic wads eliminated the old fiber wads that were used for many decades to keep powder and shot separate, cushion the shot, fill voids and made shells much easier to load. They allowed manufacturers to regulate pressure more easily. The combination of the plastic hull and plastic wad led to faster shell loaders and contributed to the low price shotshells that we all used for decades in both hunting and shooting sports. Without those innovations, we may never have seen the the prices that we enjoyed for so many years and the growth in the shooting sports, especially the clays sports.
Is there a down side to either of these innovations? Certainly there is. The most obvious, and if you've ever visited a shooting range you're way ahead of me, is the litter that is caused by thousands of plastic wads. They if untouched, will remain for decades if left to photo-degrade. They are also a hazard to wildlife of all sorts who may and often do ingest them. Careless hunters who do not pick up their hulls further add to this problem.
Plastic wads are not allowed in many European countries for just these reasons. They use fiber wads that are much more easily degraded over time. Yes, you may say but do their guns pattern as well as guns shot in the U.S. with our plastic wads. I'd only suggest that you take a look at some of the better sporting clays shooters in the world and then you can make your own decision.
So. what's the point? The point is that we should not necessarily accept that what we have is the best. We should consider that what we have and are accustomed to may be the most expedient method of delivery of an acceptable product at a reasonable price but may not be the best that it could be.
Is there an acceptable alternative at a reasonable price? Maybe but first we probably need to understand more about how a shotshell is developed and how it works.
Those 2 subjects will be disccused in parts 2 and 3 of this series.