Winchester's New Shotshell Revolution: AA TrAAcker

At the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Winchester introduced their new target shotshell for tracking the shot cloud and providing instant feedback on where you need to be to improve your shooting: the AA TrAAcker loads. This one is a really solid, innovative idea.

It is available in 12 gauge 1-1/8 oz. loads, with black or orange wads. Rather than a conventional wad that quickly drops away, the trAAcker wad retains some shot and is designed to closely follow the center of your pattern. If you miss, you'll know why and where.

For years, target shooters have insisted on trying to “read” their breaks, a practice that is generally worthless, a waste of time, and can be misleading. Neil Winston has put a lot of time into the matter as has Dr. A. C. Jones. It takes only one pellet to break a clay target and the human animal cannot reliably read breaks or tell with any meaning where the shotshell pattern was. We constantly kid ourselves into thinking we can; anything to avoid properly patterning our guns and so forth. Well-meaning shooters offer advice that sometimes is so off the mark that the budding shooter may become bewildered, frustrated, or a bit of both.

It was a cold day for the Las Vegas area, and unusually windy, but the folks from Winchester along with everyone's favorite Olympic Champion, Kim Rhode, was on hand to demonstrate the new TrAAcker loads at the 2013 Shot Show. The audio isn't very good due to the wind (okay, it is horrible), but here is an example of what they look like.


A bright day in the desert with a light blue sky meant the black traacker loads were the easiest to spot. Orange would likely be better on darker days, against trees, etc. Although Kim gently scolded me that I was “supposed to miss,” that isn't instinctive or intuitive. As far as I'm concerned, neither is doing anything but keeping hard focus on the target. Perhaps the best use of these loads is for your shooting buddy to give you instant, reliable, helpful feedback. No more wild speculation or worse yet, suggesting you were behind the bird when you actually shot over it and so forth.

Winchester has shown the wad does track the center of the pattern accurately, as you can see above just prior to wad impact. Unlike some tracer round attempts, you won't get blooper loads, they seem to show the center of the pattern, and best of all the price is only a dollar or so more per box of 25 than standard AA loads. This is outstanding product from Winchester, one that they should have no problem doing extremely well with. I can also see the TrAAcker AA loads as getting a lot of use on the dove field, for those of us that still don't always pick up quite as many doves as we do empty hulls.

It is very, very easy to see in person whether a miss was to the left, right, above or below. No question about it. It does work and work well . . . if it didn't, it never would have been released for this is the type of item that if offered no clear benefit wouldn't sell more than a box or two to an individual. Olin spent a small fortune in development, hardly just to sell a couple of boxes of shells at a low premium of a buck a box. It will sell like crazy and become a standard training aid. It sure beats the old "by gosh and by golly," reading breaks, etc.

I wouldn't call it the universal panacea, for it is far more valuable as a tool for the observer or the instructor than it is for the shooter. Now, an instructor or shooting buddy can give accurate feedback like never before . . . and it is far more helpful than a phosphorus or magnesium tracer, without the fire hazard.

If you send your wad through an ink blot, you can be sure you're on the bird. The distance from the tracker wad will vary in concert with distance, but this is of no particular impediment. Drilling those problem presentations allows you to perfect them and as with this type of training aid, the wad distance for a specific target presentation will be repeatable shot to shot. In my case, hard focus is always on the bird so it is my shooting partner that has the valuable feedback and vice-versa. There is a usable range limitation as well; whether it is 35 yards or 45 yards I can't tell you as of yet. There is little question that this is a valuable tool; just how valuable will reveal itself as time goes on.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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