Learning to Clay Pigeon Shoot

November 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Days Out, Hobbies

When learning how to shoot, the most important things to keep in mind are body position and stance, how you hold the gun and aiming.


In order to shoot accurately and well the shooter must have the correct posture for both his or her body and the gun. Feet are shoulder-width apart. If you are right-handed your left foot is forward (facing the range) and right foot back. Your gun should be held correctly with the butt positioned firmly against your shoulder which will avoid  a violent recoil where the gun pulls back due to the power of the shot.

Your shooting hand will be close to the trigger and your other arm supports the gun near the barrel.

clay pigeon shooting lessons

Shooting Stance is Very Important


Aiming and Shooting:

Familiarise yourself with the sights of the gun. Before shooting, you should have a good line in your sights. Your cheek should be resting against the barrel, enabling you to look down the barrel of the gun. Once ready to shoot, look your shoulders and arms and aim by rotating from the waist. You will want to aim a tad bit ahead of the ¨pigeon¨ and as you rotate, your shot should catch up with the disk.

History and Disciplines of Clay Pigeon Shooting:

Clay Pigeon Shooting dates back from as far back as 1831, when real birds were used as targets and set free in front of shooters in peasant and grouse shooting. Between 1883 and 1887 glass balls filled with feathers or power ( a game known as ¨glass ball¨)were developed to replace live birds, which then transformed into clay disks. These disks have a much more ¨realistic¨ flight and stay airborne longer.

Today, these disks are normally orange with a measurement of 110mm in diameter and are made of Calcium Carbonate (Limestone) and Pitch. The colour can vary depending on where the shooting is taking place in order to stand out and there is even ¨rabbit¨ clays that has been developed which are launched at ground level and gives realistic hops along the way.


Leart to shoot with lessons from highly experienced instructors and see what a satisfying sport clay shooting is.


Although virtually any type of gun up to 12 gauge is capable of being used to shoot clay pigeons, the wide variety of types and models on the market can be bewildering to the newcomer to the sport. Prices can also vary enormously from a couple of hundred to many thousands of pounds, although price alone is no indication of the suitability of the gun for clay pigeon shooting.

Most gun shops and registered firearms dealers will be pleased to advise prospective buyers as to the most suitable weapon for their needs. Also most gun clubs and shooting schools and existing CPSA members will be more than happy to advise and even let newcomers have a go with one or more of their guns, under close supervision, so that they can judge for themselves whether they would enjoy it or would like to look further into the sport.

There are three main types of shotgun that are suitable for clay shooting.


Over – Under

By far the most popular gun used by regular participants of the sport. As it’s name indicates this gun has  two barrels superimposed on each other and it has usually just a single trigger which can be selected to fire either barrel first. Within this type there are three sub-groups of specification i.e. trap, skeet and sporting. Trap guns are generally heavier and longer barrelled (normally 30″ or 32″) with tight choking and designed to shoot slightly above the point of aim. Skeet guns are usually lighter and faster handling with barrel length from 26″ to 28″ and with fairly open chokes. Sporting models most often come with an interchangeable choke facility and barrel lengths of 28″, 30″ and 32″ according to preference.

Semi – Auto

This is a single barrelled gun that reloads from a magazine using recoil pressure, but which requires the shooter to press the trigger for each shot. The current UK shotgun law requires these guns to be limited to a maximum capacity of 3 cartridges, but CPSA rules only permit a maximum of two to be loaded at any time for safety reasons. Due to light barrel weight and low recoil this gun is popular with youngsters, ladies and those who suffer from the effects of recoil. Consequently, though not as popular as the over-under, they are a fairly common sight at clay target shooting events and shooting grounds.



The original and traditional game shooting gun, with it’s barrels placed alongside each other in a horizontal plane, is generally a lighter gun with double triggers. Few side-by-sides are used for clay pigeon, as their lightness proves a disadvantage compared to the shooting stability and pointability of the over-under.



Shotgun cartridges are readily available in gun shops and at shooting grounds, and within limitations as to the shot size and the weight of the shot load are suitable for clayshooting at CPSA affiliated grounds and for use in events coming under CPSA rules. Home loaded cartridges can be dangerous and are therefore not acceptable at clay pigeon shooting events.

Care should be taken that cartridges to be used are compatible with the shotgun that is going to fire them. The instructions and specifications are printed on the boxes and should be meticulously checked and adhered to. For clay competition, shot size must not exceed 2.6mm, English No 6. The shot load must be a maximum 28gram {1 oz) for all domestic disciplines, or 24gram for Olympic Trap, Olympic Skeet and Double Trap, and up to 28gram [from 2005] for FITASC Sporting and 36g for Helice.



The Clay Pigeon

The targets used for the sport are usually in the shape of an inverted saucer, made from a mixture of pitch and chalk designed to withstand being thrown from traps at very high speeds, but at the same time being easily broken when hit by just a very few lead or steel pellets shot from a shotgun.

The targets are usually black, but other colours such as white, yellow or fluorescent orange are frequently used in order that they can be clearly seen against varying backgrounds and/or light conditions.

Clay pigeons are made to very exacting specifications with regard to their weight and dimensions and must conform to set international standards.

There are several types of targets that are used for the various disciplines, as follows. However, only the standard 110mm target is used in all of the trap and skeet disciplines. Sporting shoots feature the full range of targets (except ZZ) to provide the variety that is a hallmark of the discipline.

Standard: The most commonly used target of all, must weigh 105 grams and be of 110 mm overall diameter and 25-26 mm in height.

Midi: Same saucer shape as the standard but with a diameter of only 90mm.

Mini: This target is sometimes likened to a flying bumblebee at only 60mm in diameter and 20 mm in height.

Battue: A very thin, flat, wafer of a target of about 110mm diameter which flies very fast and falls off very suddenly.

Rabbit: A standard sized (but thicker) flat target in the shape of a wheel designed to run fast along the ground.

ZZ: This is a plastic, standard sized target attached to the centre of a 2-blade propeller of different colour designed to zig-zag in flight in a totally unpredictable manner.

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