Clay pigeon shooting or Clay target shooting is a widely popular shooting sport that involves using a firearm to shoot a flying target known as a pigeon.
The term clay pigeon has historical importance as this sport was played with live pigeons previously, but the practice was made illegal. However, the terminology has stuck around, and the target is still referred to as a ‘bird,’ missing a target is called ‘bird away,’ whereas hitting one is known as getting a ‘kill.’
There are several different forms of clay pigeon shooting, the most popular ones being trap shooting, skeet shooting and shooting clays.
How to Get into Clay Pigeon or Skeet Shooting?
Clay pigeon or skeet shooting is an immensely popular activity. It is a great way to enjoy a day outdoors and put your marksmanship skills to the test. The best part about this sport is that it can be done alone or in groups, which is what makes it an apt activity for clubs and organizations.
If you have been looking to participate in clay pigeon or skeet shooting, the first question which may come to your mind is how to get into it. Clay pigeon or skeet shooting is usually done in clay grounds or venues where trap machines, gun shops, and a clubhouse can be set up. However, it may also take place in fields or grounds where it is legal to shoot. This activity involves shooting discs thrown in different positions from a mechanical trap using a double-barreled shotgun in 12, 20, or 28 bore varieties.
Clay target shooting is divided into different disciplines, the most prominent ones being trap, sporting, and skeet. There are several forms of the sport within these three groups.
Skeet shooting: A skeet shooting range has a semi-circle range with trap devices present on both ends of the semi-circle. The targets intersect in front of the shooter.
Trap shooting: The targets are thrown away in a straight line from the shooter. They can be singles, doubles, or in varying speeds and positions.
Sporting: it is a very popular form of sport in the UK and was created to simulate live quarry shooting. The targets are thrown in a variety of angles, speeds, trajectories, distances, numbers, and elevations, which makes it slightly more complex than the other two.
To own a shotgun for this sport, the first thing to do is get a shotgun certificate. Firstly, get the application form for the certificate from your local police station. Next, complete the form with all relevant required details and attach four passport-sized photographs. You are required to pay a fee and get a referee to receive your certification. This certification may also require you to prove to the officer in charge that you are sound of mind and won’t use the gun to cause any harm to the public.
After getting the certificate, you can legally purchase a firearm, but you have to keep the certificate with you when you are making the purchase. The certificate also needs to be with you when you are shooting. If you are stopped by the police authorities for having the firearm in your vehicle, you need to provide the police officer that certificate. Lastly, secure the gun in a safe position at your property, likely in a safe with the right locks on it. The firearm is completely your responsibility.
The best place to start is your local gun or sporting club. They will have the basic equipment and training courses that will guide you through the entire process. If you are a complete newbie, you can rent or borrow a shotgun from the club for clay shooting purposes instead of buying it. The club will teach you how to handle the gun and play the sport from start to finish. However, it can be intimidating to walk into a gun club as a novice, which is why it is recommended to practice and learn the etiquette before you go into the club. This will give you a basic idea and a bit more confidence to have a fun and successful shoot day.
How Much Does Skeet Shooting Cost?
The cost of clay pigeon shooting is different for various shooting clubs and depends on several factors. The price will be different for each type of clay pigeon. In most clubs, the price for skeet shooting is five to six dollars for a round of 25 targets, with six to seven dollars for ammunition. If you have a gun of your own, you are welcome to use it, or you’ll have to pay for a borrowed shotgun separately.
Furthermore, you are required to bring eye protection and ear protection gear for shooting; if you don’t have the gear, you can rent it from the club. The charges will differ for individual shooters and groups. Plus, you will likely get a discount if you are a member of the club, whereas non-members will have to pay the full price. You can check with your local shooting club to get accurate pricing details and avail of any packages or discount deals.
Tips for Clay Pigeon Shooting
Clay target shooting is an excellent sport to get involved in and a popular outdoor activity worldwide. It challenges you, yet it is fun, which makes it an interesting pursuit. From the outside looking in, it may seem like it is just about marksmanship, but it also requires good eye coordination, quick decision-making power, and an excellent form to be a success.
Whether you want a fun pastime or are looking to take up target shooting as a sport, reading these tips will help you get a good head start.
1. Be Familiar with The Club Rules
Alongside gun etiquette and other shooting rules, the shooting itself has some rules that are important to follow. Firstly, you should be dressed appropriately for the occasion, where the rules may differ. It is generally suggested not to wear sleeveless attire or open-toed shoes for safety reasons. Furthermore, you will require proper eye and ear protection before entering the course, which you should invest in. However, if you don’t have it, you can ask the club to provide it for you, but that will likely have a fee. Ask your club if they have imposed any restrictions on the shell sizes, too.
2. Figure Out Your Dominant Eye
The first step to shooting a clay pigeon is determining your dominant eye. It will help you focus on the target better. To determine your dominant eye, point to a distant object in your room and close your left eye. If the object is visible and located at the end of your finger, then you have a dominant right eye. However, if the object moves away, repeat the experiment but close your right eye, and you will likely have a dominant left eye.
3. Mount Your Gun Correctly
Mounting the gun correctly to your shoulder should allow you to get an accurate shot while being comfortable. Your trainer will demonstrate how to do it the right way; it is recommended to practice mounting the gun while it is loaded so you are comfortable shooting with it afterward. There is a groove inside our shoulder joint where the butt of the gun will sit. Make sure you hold the firearm firmly to avoid being pushed back or hurt by the recoil after the fire.
4. Perfect Your Stance
Your standing position is a deciding factor in whether or not you’ll be able to hit the target. Ask your trainer to help you with the correct stance, and he will gladly do so and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure of something. Keep one foot in front of the other and make sure the one stretched forward is on the opposite side of the finger you have on the trigger. Keeping balance is key, which is why most of your body weight should be leaning on the foot forward so that your body is able to absorb the recoil of the gun without feeling as it is being pushed back.
5. Make Sure Your Head is in Position
One of the most common mistakes that new shooters make is to slouch the body back instead of leaning into position and correctly positioning the head. Don’t worry if you make this mistake, too; your trainer will likely point it out and correct you. But try to bring your head down and stay in the right posture yourself. This will allow you to see through the barrel correctly and attain clear visibility of the bead.
6. Keep Your Calm
There are a few tricks and tips to getting the right shot that your trainer will likely keep sharing with you as you progress. It is important to remain calm when shooting, as panicking will hinder your decision-making skills. The right timing and your positioning will surely get you the target. Make sure you follow the trail of the clay pigeon with your eyes down the barrel. Try to hit the target as it is rising.
7. Firearm Safety Is Crucial
Gun safety is incredibly important whether you’re inside or outside the course. A firearm comes with immense responsibility, which is why learning the right way to handle it and the proper gun etiquette is necessary when you are wielding it. Make yourself aware of the basics of gun handling before you start shooting, and keep asking your trainer questions to learn more. Here are some key gun handling rules:
- Don’t bring your finger to the trigger until it is time for you to shoot
- Don’t play around with a gun, whether it is loaded or unloaded; handle them both with the utmost caution
- Make sure the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction at all times.
8. Don’t Cause Any Distractions
If you plan to enter a shooting competition or any competitive activity, there are a few important etiquettes one must be aware of. Don’t be a distraction to your opponent as it isn’t safe nor tasteful. Try not to express happiness or frustration out loud despite how your performance is that day.
Another possible way you can distract your competition is by leaning down continuously to collect your shells. This can very easily be prevented by investing in a pouch, so all your shells are always at arm’s distance from you. If you use a semi-automatic, it is crucial to employ a system that prevents the shells from going everywhere, hitting the ground or the opponent.
Clay pigeon shooting is a great sport; it is fun, engaging, and challenging all at the same time. Like any sport, it requires practice to be good at it. It may be intimidating at first, but it isn’t really once you get the hang of it.