Clay pigeon shooting is one of the most exciting activities you can do to enhance your shooting skills. While there are three types you can choose from, the goal is the same–shoot small clay discs out of the sky.
This sport is ideal for shooters because it gives them a moving target to try to pick off. Numerous hunters have sworn their shooting skills improved tremendously after engaging in clay shooting. It is also a sport enjoyed by all types of shooters and not just hunters.
Are you interested in shooting clays? Below are five tips to get you started.
1. Prioritize safety, all the time
In any shooting sport, the foremost concern should be the safety not only of the shooter but also the people around him or her.
Proper gun safety is essential that if you have no idea about it, you’d rather learn about it even before you think of shooting clays. The basics include never loading a weapon until you are ready to shoot and unloading your gun before you step away from the shooting line.
It is also important to always wear appropriate protection for your eyes and ears. As for your clothes, it is recommended that you wear shirts with tight sleeves because baggy sleeves may get caught on your weapon as you mount it.
2. Open both eyes when shooting
It goes without saying that clay shooting is a sport where eyes are of paramount importance. You’d likely think, though, that you will need to open your dominant eye and close the other. However, most experts highly discourage it.
The one-eyed technique has long been preferred by clay shooting enthusiasts. It’s been passed down from generation to generation. The main advantage of it is that it eliminates visual confusion. But it can also put you at a disadvantage because you can’t fully determine how far the bird is from you, or how quickly it is moving.
Open both your eyes to get the best shot, experts advise (image source: telegraph.co.uk)
Our brain has timing circuits designed for two eyes. When you shoot with just one eye, you would lose depth perception, field vision, and total vision. Using both eyes, meanwhile, lets you read angles and distances a lot better. You can also determine leads which are critical in hunting and sporting clays. Using two eyes would also let you see the targets rising behind the gun. It would also let you hold it higher over a trap house.
In short, it is a lot easier to hit a moving target when you have two eyes open.
3. Perfect your stance
The position of your body or your stance is equally important. It can be said that the stance is the foundation of a successful clay shooting. If you can adopt the correct stance, then you should be able to take better shots. Adopting the right stance will also enable you to swing your body and follow the flight of the clay.
Image source: shootinguk.co.uk
But what is the right stance? Let’s start with the position of the feet. Your feet should be slightly open and around shoulder-width apart. Your forward knee must be slightly bent while the rear leg is kept straight. Position your upper body to lean slightly forward from your waist up.
Aim to place about 60% of your weight on the forward leg while the rear gets the remaining 40%.
4. Proper gun mount
Like your body stance, the proper gun mount can determine your success in clay shooting. Unfortunately, many shooters fail to mount their guns properly. The most common mistake would have to be mounting the gun after acquiring the target, putting their head down, and then trying to find their target with the end of the muzzle. What would that result in? The shooters simply fail to hit their target.
Also, many novice shooters raise their heads off their weapons because they anticipate recoil, or they simply want to see the clays break. But if you raise your head, you will most likely miss the shot. So, you should aim to keep your head down all the time.
So, how should you mount your gun? First is to acquire your target before mounting your gun to your face and shoulder. Then take the shot! Moreover, do not forget to insert the muzzle in front of the bird.
You can practice this by making 10 practice mounts a part of your daily routine. Try practicing in front of a mirror so you can see to it that you are mounting the gun the right way and in a consistent manner.
5. Continue swinging
After you have acquired your target and squeezed the target, you may be tempted to stop the swing of your pistol. This is one of the top causes of missed shots in clay shooting.
Yet after firing off your shot, you ought to continue the movement of the muzzle on the same plane on which you were formerly moving. This can be likened to a golf swing. If you aren’t familiar with the sport, golfers do not strike the ball and then stop their momentum. They continue to swing to have better control of their shot and therefore, lead to improved accuracy.
Think of it this way: your swing starts at 10 o’clock and it’s 12 o’clock when the muzzles are on your target. Continue the swing through the birds and you’ll be able to pull the trigger at about 2 o’clock.
Of course, a bonus tip for anyone aspiring to be good at clay shooting is to practice as much as possible. If you want to be good at this sport, then you should devote enough time to training. This can help you change something that you are missing or lacking.
If you find yourself shooting for hours on end, make sure to mitigate the punishing effects with a recoil pad.
In short, clay shooting is an enjoyable and exciting activity to get into especially if you are fond of shooting. It can also improve your shooting skills. Follow the five tips shared in this article and you could be on your way to being good at clay shooting.
By Bobby Norman – an avid blogger with particular interests in guns and shooting.