Shooting Lessons

May 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Events, Hobbies

Learn About Clay Pigeon Shooting

There are Three Different Styles of Shotgun

3 different designs of 12 bore gun exist, Side by Side, Over and Under and Semi-Automatic.

Side by side shotguns are frequently used by traditional game shooters. On a side by side, the barrels are next to each other.

With over and unders, the barrels are on top of each other. Clay pigeon shooting favours over and under shotguns.

Auto’s are only only really used for pigeon shooting and clay pigeon shooting.

Adult shooters tend to prefer 12 bores because they are offer ideal performance for the weight.

twenty bore gun are often used by juniors, ladies and by other shooters who want a light weight gun and less recoil through their shoulder.

Clay Shooting Equipment You Will Require

Shotgun Slip

A good quality gun sleeve will protect your shotgun from damage while you are carrying it.

Cartridge Carrying Bags

Carrying your cartridges requires a suitable pouch or bag, depending on the shooting discipline you are taking part in.

Suitable Eye Wear

Different tints, clear, orange and yellow lenses will help you to pick out a clay against different backgrounds and in differing light conditions, while also protecting your sight from clay fragments.

Protection for Hearing

To protect your ears against potential long term harm you should use hearing protectors near to shooting activities. Ear protection is insisted upon at all professionally run shooting grounds.

Shotgun Cartridges

Shotgun shells vary from brand to brand. Most shooters find a make they are happy with and stick with it.

There are 2 variations of cartridge options available; lead shot size and velocity. Faster cartridges tend to cost more to buy. Lead shot for clays tends to vary from 6 ½ to 9 in size. 6 ½ has a large lead shot diameter, but less individual shot pellets. These larger sized shot will travel further so suit long distance targets. In a size 9 shell, the pellets are much smaller, but there are more per cartridge. They don’t have the mass to fly as far, but offer a ‘spread’ of more pellets at closer range.

The amount of ‘lead’ that a specific target needs will depend on the speed of your specific cartridge. Velocities vary from 1350 – 1650 ft/second, and a particular shot speed will suit your hand/eye coordination better than others.

Two Types of Shooting

Clay Pigeon Skeet Shooting

Wherever you shoot skeet, the clays will fly through a similar path. This allows you to shoot the same targets at any skeet shooting ground worldwide.

A round is twenty five targets, shot in sequence from 7 stands. Good skeet shooters will frequently hit 100 straight.


Sporting targets imitate a variety of different game. You’ll see a range of different targets and each shoot stand will offer you a new challenge.

Clay Target Differences

Basic ‘Standard’ targets have a diameter of 110mm with a domed middle

Midi clays are a smaller version of a standard, 90mm Dia.

Mini – 60mm Diameter – often called bumble bees, these look tiny and very fast!

A Battue is a thin flat clay with a lipped rim, measuring 110mm across. Battues are frequently used as looping targets because they turn as they slow down, always providing the shooter with a new challenge!

A Rabbit is a stronger clay than a standard or a Battue, but is the same size. It is designed to roll across the ground to simulate a running rabbit.

Shooting Principles

Shooting is a hand eye coordination discipline. In the same way as you catch a ball, you judge your shot so it intersects with the clay as it flies through the air.

To be a god shot, you just need two basic skills; reasonable hand/eye coordination so you can correctly time your shot, and an ability to ‘read’ what each clay is doing so you consistently predict the correct flight path.

Your shot flies in an oval cloud of lead. Your goal is to position that cloud in the path of the clay.

Because of the speeds and distances involved, accurately interpreting what a target is doing in the air is crucial skill for clay pigeon shooting.

Many clays are optical illusions, appearing like they are doing one thing, while actually doing something different. This is why simple looking targets are missed on such a frequent basis.

Shooting Methods

The precise moment that you pull the trigger, along with the speed your gun is moving are the two critical factors that will let you hit the target. The two main shooting styles taught during shooting lessons & used by most shooters are ‘swing through’ and ‘maintain lead’.

Maintain lead is the simplest shooting technique for beginners to master. It involves keeping a set distance in front of the target, tracking its path through the air. When you are happy that you are the correct distance in front, pull the trigger while continuing to move the gun.

Swing through is a seat of the pants skill that doesn’t involve measuring the distances needed to kill the target. Instead, you swing your barrels from behind, until you are happy you are at the correct point in front of the target to hit it.

Different Clay Targets

The 7 different types of targets simulate the different varieties of game.


Rabbits are the same diameter as standard clays, but are stronger to withstand the repeated bouncing on hard ground.

Simulated Teal

Hitting rising Teal requires a consistent swing through technique unlike any other. Many shooters prefer to hit Teal as they drop. Either way, they need practice to hit consistently.

Quartering Targets

By looking at where the target comes from and where it lands you can see how much the target is quartering towards or away from you. Quartering targets usually require less lead than a crossing target, so knowing its true flight path is important.

Driven Birds

A clay target that comes straight towards you is called a driven target and imitates driven game. Your barrels will hide the target just when you want to pull the trigger so you will need to use “the force” to consistently hit driven targets.

Incoming Targets

Incoming clays take many forms, and can appear from all angles, but basically head towards you, often hanging in the air before dropping to the ground. They are often taken for granted and missed through a lack of shooter concentration.

Going Away

Going away clays need quick reactions and a little confidence. Don’t wait too long before you shoot.

Looper Clays

Loopers come in many guises. There are several techniques to hit them depending on your shooting style. A looper may also be quartering, falling, and moving forwards all at once, making them tricky targets, especially at range.

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