Guide a hunter to hunt clay targets

Eighty-a few days from now, you will be standing in a pigeon field, gaps piled up around your ankle, wishing you had heard me. But you will not. You will spend the summer fishing, or playing golf, or watching your kids play games and trying to convince yourself that all that money you spent on bats was a sound investment.

Or, maybe you will accept my advice, let the kids pay with aluminum rods and start shooting. And on September 1st, you will be glad you did. In fact, you will be happy to have done it before, because shooting clay targets is fun in itself, and it is good practice for the hunting season.

Ammunition costs a lot now. It didn’t cost that much when I started shooting, but I didn’t make money, so I know what it’s like to fight to pay for shooting. I had to sell a gun to buy enough objective quantities to last me a summer. At that time, I started trapping in a farmer’s club with a trap, among the corn fields where I lived. I shot once a week, allowing myself two rounds of traps. I liked it, and I sucked it, and I looked forward to it all week until Wednesday evening.

However, in the fall, I noticed a big change in the number of pheasants, partridges, chickens and turkeys. I also had a new hobby.

Getting Started on Trap, Skeet and Sports Clay

photo of skeet shooting
A young hunter shoots a ski round. Phil Bourjaily

In addition to cost, there are other barriers to getting targeted clay sports. Starting something new is scary. Ideally, you would go with someone who could tell you what to do, but some of us just started shooting ourselves. It’s natural to feel conscious when entering the gun club for the first time. But do not worry. Shooters tend to be very hospitable.

The safest way to adjust right away is to be confident. Remember that this is not hunting and that several different safety rules apply, although some, such as keeping your muzzle pointing in a safe direction and treating each weapon as if it were loaded, always apply. In the gun club, do not load more than one projectile at a time for single targets, or two projectiles per pair. Do not load the weapon while going to the station. Wait until you are still at the table. On the other hand, it is accepted practice to remove your security and leave it, because your weapon is never loaded until you are ready to shoot it. Also, do not shoot any shots larger than 7½. There are important safety reasons for this rule. Save your hunting loads for hunting.

Lose any chips that may be on your shoulder. Many hunters assume that all regular persons are looking at them with contempt when they go out to the club for the first time, and they act accordingly. No one is judging you unless you are weird, in which case they probably should be. If you are sure, you will go well. Also, no one cares how many targets it breaks. And if you lose a lot, there is no need to tell everyone how many ducks you shot last year. Again, no one cares. We all started once.

While most shooters openly welcome newcomers, the exception is trapshooters, who are a little anxious during a round. For everyone to shoot their best, a trap squad must move quietly, smoothly, and without interruption, so talking or having trouble with your gun can bring you a sideways glance. However, most trap shooters are completely friendly people when in fact they are not shooting.

Summer hunting games

There is no reason traps, skis and mud sports this summer, as each has something to offer. But you probably want to choose one to start with, then decide if you want to try one of the others. So here is a summary of the three.


Trap makes a good beginner game because it is easier to get by beginners. You will want a weapon that fires once reliably and has a modified or narrower choke. Most targets require very little bullet, and most people can get a result in adolescence fairly quickly. Trap targets fly like mountain birds, so it’s good practice to learn how to hit targets that flee. If the trap raises you, you will eventually want to place a trap gun to shoot up, so that you see the targets instead of covering them with the muzzle of a field weapon. And, if you are a perfectionist who likes the idea of ​​shooting 200 targets without losing (or aspiring to), the trap may be the game for you. And if you get to that point, every bird of the game that leaves will be in big trouble.


In terms of noise for money, skeet is the best practical wing shooting game, especially for pigeon and duck hunters. You will get outgoing, incoming shots and lots of intersection shots. Skeet has a steeper turn than trap and some of the birds require long stupid bullets. Once you can hit the crossers at 3, 4 and 5, the pigeons will no longer be such formidable targets. You will want a weapon that fires twice reliably and an open choke: Skeet, upgraded cylinder or cylinder. Skeet targets are close enough that it is a great game for shooting with small arms.

A ski round lasts a little longer than a trap round – about 25 minutes – and is more sociable. It is usually what I run as a practical game, as it costs less and requires less time than a sports clay round. Tournament Skeet, like a trap, becomes a game of fairness and infinite perfection. It takes a long time to get to that point, and traveling can be fun, but, if you’re like me, the idea of ​​spending enough time doing well in a game where you can not lose is not all. that attractive.

Sports clay

Sporting Clays is the most fun and socializing game of all. A round of 100 targets lasts an hour or more, and in most cases, if you are related to strangers, you will all be friends when it is over.

The stations are spread over a large area and all the targets are shot in pairs, so you need a gun that fires twice, and a bag or bucket to pull 100 shells and a bottle of water around the course. Most sports mud courses keep their targets within the range of an improved cylinder choke. Alternation of chokes between stations is allowed. The five-stand sports clay is a kind of cross between sports and sports clays. There is no walking, and the rounds are 25 goals.

Because no two courses are the same – and they are always changing – perfect results in sports clay are rare. And, because each course is different, sports clay can be a destination game. It is a pleasure to go to different places and see what kind of targets they throw and how they use their terrain. It is also fun to compete. You do not even need to join a governing body or pay obligations to hit the competition targets if you are shooting in what is called the “Hunter” class.

You will see objectives in a sports clay course that are not at all like real birds, and there are tricks and techniques to learn for all of them. But there are many who act as truths as well. Enter the game with low expectations, with expectations for results and high expectations to have a good time and you will not be disappointed. You will also be very happy with yourself when the birds wear feathers this fall.

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