Gotta completely disagree even more with what you're saying.
But first, as a show of good faith, here's a little trinket the NSCA sent me for my "accomplishments" in Sporting Clays:
I've shot a lot of sporting clays for a lot of years all over the US and in foreign countries.
I'd be very careful using a pronoun like "everyone" when talking about equipment and techniques. And I'd also be careful suggesting to people over the internet what they might try while having no idea of their level of experience. I'll tell you a few stories.
I go to Argentina for dove hunting pretty much every year (I'm skipping this year as I'm not comfortable with the socio-economic situation there right now). Well, a few years ago, I noticed at the end of the second day that the bead was missing. I have no idea when that happened and I had shot somewhere around 1300 (yes, 1300) shells that day. If I look at the bead, surely, I would have noticed that it had gone missing at some point during the day? I then shot three more days without beads and my hit % didn't suffer at all. I never bothered replacing the front bead on that gun; it's still missing today. I've also gone on two more trips with that gun to Argentina. So 2.5 trips (5 days each) plus shooting the gun here, I bet there are 15,000 shells through that gun with no beads and I don't notice it.
Last year, I went to the US Open at Caribou. I shot 600 targets in 5 days. I got home, was cleaning my gun and again, noticed that the front bead was missing. Again, no idea when it was lost. It could have been on the first day for all I know. And I won punches during the shoot, too, so my score certainly didn't suffer. Again, if I spent any time at all looking at the bead, surely, I would have noticed that it was gone before I got home? This bead has been replaced as it's a nice gun and it looks a bid stupid with a hole in the rib where the bead should be (more on this later).
Also last year, I bought a new Browning pump gun to have some fun with. A friend asked me what kind of bead it had (he was worried that it had Browning's typical POS glo-worm). I had no idea. I had to pull the gun out and look at it to tell him what kind of bead it had. And, finally, again, if I must be looking at the bead while shooting, surely, I would know what kind of bead was on the gun?
Now, let's take a look at some truly top flight shooters (which I certainly am not). Dan Carlisle, a perennial All-American, Olympic medalist, and NSCA hall of famer shoots without beads. He's also one of the most highly regarded instructors in the country and he suggests to all his students that they remove the beads from their gun. At the very least, he takes a sharpie to them and blacks them out to make them less visible. Richard Faulds, who just won the World English Sporting championship a couple weeks ago, is a multiple World FITASC winner plus Olympic gold medalist, shoots without beads John Woolley, also one of the top instructors in the country and one of the best veteran shooters in the world, shoots without a bead. If you walk around any big sporting clays shoot and look at guns, you'll see a very high number with the beads removed. Surely if everyone looks at the bead and it factors into the things that everyone must see, there would be no way to shoot at such a high level as to win World Championships, Olympic Medals, or whatever prizes the NSCA might offer.
I'm lucky enough that I've been able to order a few high-end custom guns (there'a picture of at least one of them in this thread and you can see my avatar). I always order them without a mid bead and what the company normally uses as a mid bead installed at the muzzle. The only reason I have any bead installed is to have a "tooth" for leaning the gun up against stuff. Otherwise, I would go beadless. The bead isn't there to be looked at. It's there because it's an anachronism from a former time when shooting wasn't quite as evolved as it is now. I don't mean to be disparaging but I spend a lot of time shooting sporting clays with a lot of very good shooters and I don't know a single one of them who will tell you to look at the bead or that it plays any importance in shooting. If you look at the bead while shooting, you will miss the bird. End of story. If you go to any serious clay shooting forum, you'll hear this same theme repeated over and over again as well.
And, as for your statement "if accuracy wasn't a factor everyone would hit 100% and clay shooting sports wouldn't exist," it's the shooter that breaks the target, not the gun. Shooting competitions are a test of human skill, not equipment. The inherent "accuracy" of a shotgun plays no role in whether or not the target breaks. The shooter has to point it in the right place. And the best way to do this is to have a minimal amount of distractions, including things like big, giant, glo-worm beads.
Edited by leftnose - 5/6/13 at 7:13am