Learn About Clay Pigeon Shooting

Learn About Clay Pigeon Shooting

Shotgun Types

The three main designs of shotgun are Over and Under, Side by Side and Semi-Automatic.

Game shooters traditionally use side by side shotguns. On a side by side, the barrels are next to each other.


With over and unders, the barrels are positioned on top of one  another. Over & unders are mostly used for clay shooting.


Single barrelled auto’s are often used by wild game shooters for pigeon shooting.


The vast majority of shooters usually use twelve bore guns as they are the ideal combination of weight and performance for the majority of clay pigeon targets you will see.

twenty bore shotgun are often used by ladies, youngsters and by other shooters who want a light weight gun with less recoil through their shoulder.

Clay Pigeon Shooting Kit

Gun Slip

Keep your gun safe and protected when it’s being transported in a padded gun slip.

Cartridge Bags

Depending on what type of shooting you will be doing, you will need a pouch, pocket or bag to hold ample cartridges while you shoot.

Clay Shooting Eye Protection

All good clay pigeon shooting grounds require eye protection to be worn while shooting. This is because there are often sharp fragments of flying clay landing near to shooters.

Ear Protection

Another sensible precaution is ear plugs. Eventually shooting can harm your hearing so protect your hearing with effective hearing protection from foam plugs through to electronic head phones or molded ear pieces.

Shotgun Cartridges

All shooters have their preferred type of cartridges that they like to shoot with, and there are many manufacturers to choose from. Most shots stick with a manufacturer that they have done well with!

Shot gun cartridges have 2 basic criteria, the load size and the speed of the cartridge. The bigger each of the lead balls in the shot, the greater distance they will travel, but the the less shot there will be in the shell. Smaller shot sizes have more lead balls, but as they each have less mass, they don’t travel as far. Many experienced shooters will use a different shot sized cartridge for different targets depending on their distance.

The perfect speed for your cartridges will vary depending on how your coordination perceives the target. Quicker cartridges require less ‘lead’ in front of the target, slower cartridges need more lead.

Two Primary Shooting Disciplines


Olympic grade clay shooting is skeet based. Skeet consists of a low and a high trap that face one another. All skeet ranges provide targets that fly through a similar pattern so wherever you shoot, the skeet targets are going to be very similar.

A skeet round is made up of twenty five clays, shot in order from the seven shoot stands. Good skeet shooters will frequently achieve a hundred straight.

Sporting Shooting

Grounds that provide sporting clays put on a mixture of targets which mimic different sorts of game. Each shoot will be different, and will alter their traps on a regular basis so you never get bored!

Variety of Clays

Standard’ clays are 110mm dia.

Midi – 90mm Diameter – a slightly smaller version of a standard

Mini clays are the same shape as standards, but just 60mm across. Sometimes called bumble bees!

A Battue is a flat clay with a lipped edge. They often turn in mid-air and plummet to earth when you least expect it!

Rabbit’s are thicker and tougher than standard clays and ape a running rabbit, hopping, bouncing and running along the ground.

Principles of Shooting

Shooting is a hand eye coordination sport. In the same way as you catch a ball, you gauge your shot so it meets the clay as it flies through the air.

The 2 main skills you need to shoot well are reasonable hand eye coordination and an understanding of what the clay is doing so you can predict it’s correct flight path.


When your shot leaves your gun barrels, it moves through the air in a cigar shaped cloud. All you have to do is to make sure that the clay flies through that cloud of shot.

You need to accurately predict the flight path of the clay so that your hand eye coordination can hit the target.

Many experienced guns still get caught out by targets that are set up to be optical illusions.

Shooting Methods

The 2 key factors that will allow you to hit the target are gun speed and the precise moment in time that you decide to pull the trigger. The two common styles of shooting are ‘maintain lead’ and ‘swing through’.


The majority of shooters start by using maintain lead as their main technique. This involves tracking the target with your gun barrels the distance ahead of the clay that you think is required. When you feel you are the correct distance in front, squeeze the trigger and watch the clay turn to dust.

Instead of consciously measuring each time using maintain lead, more experienced shooters often use swing through as their preferred technique. Coming from behind, you swing through the clay until you have sufficient lead in front. Squeeze the trigger while keeping the gun moving and watch the clay shatter. Shooting is great fun and very satisfying.

Different Types of Sporting Clay Targets

There are seven different types of basic targets used to mimic different game in different situations.


Rabbits are unpredictable bouncing clays that leap in the air when you don’t expect it. They are stronger construction than standard clays so require accuracy to kill them.


Hitting rising Teal requires a consistent swing through technique unlike any other. Many shooters prefer to kill Teal as dropping targets. Either way, they need practice to hit consistently.

Quartering Targets

You can assess how much a target is quartering towards or away from you by looking at where the trap is and where the target lands. This angle will affect the amount of lead the clay requires.


Hitting a driven bird requires a good swing through technique & practice. Driven birds imitate driven game flying towards you. You will lose the target behind the barrels of your gun just when you want to shoot, so you have to rely on pure hand eye coordination to know exactly when to shoot.


Incoming targets fly towards you from a variety of angles. Unlike driven clays, they normally fall before reaching you rather than flying on overhead.

Going Away Clays

Targets going away from you need confidence and speed so you can hit them before they are too small to break.

Looper Clays

Looping targets start off rising, before falling, and often quarter towards or away from you. Hitting a looping target consistently can be tricky and requires patience and practice. Some prefer to hit them rising, while others prefer to wait for them to begin falling before shooting.