Winchester's AA TrAAcker: A Shotshell Revolution

By Randy Wakeman

Kim Rhode and the author holding AA TrAAcker shells.
Kim Rhode and the author holding AA TrAAcker shells.

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 point to improve your shooting: the AA TrAAcker loads. This is a really solid, innovative idea.

TrAAcker is available in 12 gauge, 1-1/8 ounce 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 where.

For years, clay target shooters have insisted on trying to �read� their breaks, a practice that 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 where the shotshell pattern was. However, we constantly try to kid ourselves into thinking we can. 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 at the range 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. 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. Unlike some tracer round attempts, you won't get blooper loads. The AA TrAAcker seems 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 an outstanding product from Winchester, one with which they should do extremely well. I can also see the TrAAcker AA loads getting a lot of use on the dove field, for those of us that don't pick up as many doves as we do empty hulls.

Olin spent a small fortune developing TrAAcker. It will sell like crazy and become a standard training aid. It sure beats the old "by gosh and by golly," reading breaks, etc. It is easy to see whether a miss was to the left, right, above or below. No question about it, the TrAAcker works and work well. If it didn't, it never would have been released. This is the type of item that, if it offered no clear benefit, wouldn't sell more than one box to a customer.

I wouldn't call TrAAcker a universal panacea, for it is more valuable as a tool for the observer or instructor than it is for the shooter. An instructor or shooting buddy can give the shooter accurate feedback like never before and it is far more helpful than a phosphorus or magnesium tracer, without the fire hazard. The distance from the TrAAcker wad will vary in concert with distance, but this is no particular impediment. What the practical maximum distance is, I can't yet tell you.

If you send your wad through a powdered target, you can be sure you were on the bird. Drilling problem target presentations allows you to perfect them and the wad distance for a specific target presentation will be repeatable from shot to shot. In my case, hard focus is always on the target, so it is my shooting partner who best observes the valuable feedback and vice-versa. There is little question that AA TrAAcker is a valuable teaching and learning tool.

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Copyright 2013, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.