I am anxiously awaiting the start of the 2021 pheasant season with several wild hunts on my calendar. Recently, while chatting with Babbs of “Women’s Outdoor News,” she suggested that a lighter gun might make my hunts more enjoyable! This isn’t the first time this has been suggested to me by other upland hunters, but until now I just made do with the shotguns I own. Before I knew it, arrangements had been made for me to pick up a loaner Benelli Ethos gauge with a 28-inch barrel. I was excited and nervous at the same time; I was borrowing a fine Italian Benelli and have never hunted with an inertia driven shotgun.
Sponsored by Benelli
The day I arrived at my local gun store to pick up the shotgun was very entertaining. The guys were waiting for me to complete the submission of my 4473, so “we” could open the box and inspect it. I was receiving “The Benelli Experience,“ which, in shop talk, translates to this edict:You WILL remove the hard case from the cardboard box and open it so that they, too, can hold and admire it.
Immediately I felt drawn to the satin, walnut stock. It has a beautiful golden undertone, that gives me the impression of an iridescent grain, intertwined within the natural wood grain. The nickel-plated receiver shows beautiful, but subtle, engraving; the brass-colored trigger is attractive and the blued-barrel received a stunning onyx sheen. I felt anxious about assembling it. I had eight pairs of eyes looking at me – their owners barely restraining themselves from asking if I needed their help. The bolt and cover are a new assembly concept for me, and I was not sure I was prepared to wrestle with it. I looked at the receiver for a few more moments and went for it. Under my breath escaped, “How hard could it be, Sharenda?” and immediately, I felt foolish. It only appeared to be intimidating; it was a piece of cake to put together!
Once I got past the victory of assembling it, I mounted and cried out, “I DON’T WANT TO LIKE THIS SHOTGUN!!” The mount and sight alignment were perfect for me, the forward grip laid ergonomically in my hand, and the weight seemed significantly lighter than my personal shotguns. I had anticipated changing the shim, but it wasn’t necessary.
Sighing deeply, I disassembled the Ethos, packed it up and took it home. On the way, I messaged a couple of my hunting and shotgun buddies to humble brag about my loaner Benelli. Then, I personally challenged myself to increase target practice and add even more upland hunts to my calendar. Who knows when I will be able to get my hands on a Benelli again? I might as well go hard or go home. The perfect opportunity appeared during upcoming weekend with the Johnson County Kansas Pheasants Forever Women’s pheasant hunting clinic. I had planned to mentor and provide extra support to the chapter. I also planned to carry the Ethos unloaded, in the field while mentoring, to break it in at the warm up practice prior to the hunts and to test out the weight of carrying it in the field.
Prior to my warmup session I had so many worrisome thoughts of, “OMG, let me shoulder it properly!” and “Please dust half my targets!” and “Don’t embarrass wildHerness, Pheasants Forever or John Francis!” I obliterated ALL my targets and yelled “Gosh darn it! I don’t want to like this shotgun!” The recoil was so gentle and smooth. I barely felt a nudge, and I did not feel any movement on my cheek.
We had a small crowd of ladies at this clinic and medium crowd of men. They asked about the Ethos and asked if they could take a couple of shots with it. I responded with,” You’d be crazy not to shoot it!” For the next half hour, we took turns testing out the Ethos, shocked at how smooth it felt in our hands. Several chapter members offered to buy it from me, so that meant me explaining that alas, the beauty is on loan and not mine to sell. Then came inquiries about the availability of that model at our local gun store; laughable because I know these guns sell so quickly they can only be special ordered—they sell so quickly that stores are unable to keep stock. Sorry, fellas!
I said I was not going to shoot, but one group of first-time shooters was hesitant to take a follow up shot. So, I loaded the Ethos and informed my mentee that I was going to back her up. I gracefully landed a bird with a follow-up shot and it felt so effortless – almost as if I had been shooting it my whole life.
The next day found me volunteering with the Heartland of Missouri Pheasants Forever chapter for their women’s clinic. Although I was on picture duty in the field and unable to carry the Ethos, I did participate in the clay practice session. Again, a flawless warm up session and I was not happy about it—I am still actively resisting developing feelings for this gun!
Fast forward one week later – the Ethos traveled in a vehicle across several states, from Missouri to California. After making it safely to California, I had the opportunity to bust up a few clays with a dear friend that has never shot a gun, a new friend that is a serious bow hunter. I was so excited to test out the Ethos on my first actual desert range experience!
My friend took her first shots ever on the Benelli Ethos, my bowhunter was reacquainted with shooting clays on the Ethos, and we all had smiles plastered on our faces. Gosh … I don’t want to like this shotgun.
Barbara Baird, the publisher of The WON, has received the official side eye text of, “I hate to admit it, but you were right about carrying a lighter gun in the field.” Gosh, I really do not want to like this shotgun. Pheasant season is about a month away and the Ethos is already packed up and heading back to Lenexa, Kansas, for a breast cancer awareness charity shoot, a few practice sessions and then it will be sass-in-the-grass and boots-to-the-ground to chase some pheasants. I’m also contemplating hunting for ducks and geese.
If you don’t like this shotgun either, but want to check it out, visit Benelli.
Sharenda Birts is the Director of Community Affairs and one of the 4 founding members of wildHERness, a diverse group of outdoorswomen passionate about providing females with a connection to the outdoors through workshops, events, mentoring and community service. Her passion for the outdoors began when she began to learn how to safely handle a firearm and clean it. She does not come from a family background of firearms or outdoorsman and did not have any exposure to the outdoors until she joined a sporting clays league that persuaded her to attend a pheasant hunt. Although Sharenda is a new hunter, she is passionate about sharing her adventures to inspire other city born-and-raised minority women – with the message that they, too, can learn how to explore the outdoors, no matter what their ages. Sharenda is an NRA certified pistol, shotgun, and metallic cartridge reloading instructor who comes from a background with 25 years in the banking and equity investment industry. She also admits to being addicted to clay sports, along with upland and waterfowl hunting. Sharenda’s gearing up for angling and fly-tying in the near future. View all posts by Sharenda Birts
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