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Want to start clay pigeon shooting? Here’s 7 things you need to know


Clay pigeon shooting can seem like a baffling sport to the uninitiated. Many people are put off trying their hand at the activity for fear that it is not easy to learn and because of the mistaken belief that it is reserved for a certain class of men who won’t welcome newcomers. 

However, this couldn’t be more untrue on both counts. Most shooters are keen to introduce this sport to as many people as they can. For experienced participants in the sport, clay pigeon shooting is an exhilarating experience that ought to be tried by as many people as possible. And with a bit of tutoring, it is a skill that can be easily learnt and excelled at with time.

If you’re eager to give clay pigeon shooting a go, then don’t hold back. If you don’t want to go the whole hog and join a clay pigeon shooting club just yet, then try out one of the many activity days that are available across the UK where you can sample the thrill of shooting for a day, before deciding whether it’s the sport for you. 

Here are a few tips and guidelines to get you started in clay pigeon shooting: 

Give it Time

It can be a time consuming exercise to master the techniques of clay pigeon shooting, and you’ll need patience. There are many variables that will determine how often you are on target and it can take plenty of practice to strike more than you miss. 

As with anything, if you wish to become a skilled shooter, you need to devote some time to the sport. Team up with an experienced shooter or shooting teacher to get good foundations on which to build. 

It doesn’t matter if you are new to the sport of clay pigeon shooting or are a seasoned shooter, the suggestions below ensure that you get off on the right foot when you step into the shooting arena.

Know Your Dominant Eye

As you may have already heard, being able to track the trajectory that a flying clay follows is half the battle when it comes to clay pigeon shooting. The first step in developing the ability to follow the trajectory is to know which is your dominant eye.

To determine your dominant eye, first point the barrel at an object on the other side of the room and cover one of your eyes. If you find that you are no longer pointing at that object, you have closed your dominant eye. After realising which is your dominant eye, the side of your body where your dominant eye belongs is where you should shoot from. Your success rate with clays is likely to be higher when you raise the gun up to your stronger visual side.

The Right Stance

Once you have determined your dominant eye, the next step is to get your stance right. Leading with the opposite side to your dominant eye is the most appropriate way to perfect your stance. If the left hand side of your body is where you have the gun, put your right foot forward and vice versa.

Place your weight on the front of your foot and point your toe towards the area you intend to hit the clay, or the kill-zone. When you lift the shotgun into the start position, place the butt of the gun into the groove which is adjacent to your shoulder joint. It should sit comfortably. Putting your body into such a stance enables you to swing your body smoothly with ease, which is required to follow the trajectory of the clay once it is released. 

Aim Ahead

As an amateur, when you aim at the target, it may initially be difficult for you to keep pace with the speed at which the clay moves. Following it and firing a shot blindly will only result in you missing the target nine out of ten times.

The time that it takes for the rubber bullet to reach the clay after squeezing the trigger should be taken into consideration. It is possible to pre-plan a collision point at which you will break the clay if you remember to consider the aforementioned time interval. Ultimately it is your ability to ‘read’ a clay which defines how well you have grasped the clay shooting techniques which you have been taught.

Keep on Swinging

The biggest reason why shooters miss their targets is because they give into the temptation of stopping the swing of their gun once they have picked their spot and squeezed the trigger. Once you have fired your shot, you need to continue moving the gun’s muzzle on the same axis on which the gun was being moved earlier. 

Let us take the example of golf for better understanding. Have you ever noticed how golfers continue the swing of their golf club even after they have struck the ball. They do not halt their momentum upon impact and this allows them to strike with better accuracy. 

Safety First

For obvious reasons and without a doubt the most important aspect of any sport, shooting or any other, is to follow the necessary safety guidelines. Whether your passion lives to see another day or not depends on the amount of importance that you place in remaining safe. Along with showing a willingness to learn the sport, you must also display an awareness of gun safety and adhere to the rules of the sport. 

In most shooting ranges, a qualified instructor will give you safety instructions before you proceed to shooting. It is important that you listen carefully to all advice and follow their rules. Until you are ready to shoot, the gun should not be loaded and you must only point the barrel at things that you intend to shoot at.

Consistent Practice Makes Improvement

The principle which is applicable to any pastime, hobby and sport also stands true in the case of clay pigeon shooting. The only way to get better at clay pigeon shooting is to practice as much as possible. If you don’t get regular practice in, you won’t improve as quickly as someone who is working on their progress every day. So keep it up and remember to enjoy the thrill that is clay pigeon shooting!

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