Everything You Need To Know About Clay Pigeon Shooting

Learn About Clay Pigeon Shooting

Three Basic Styles of Shotgun

3 different designs of 12 bore gun exist, Semi-Automatic, Over and Under and Side by Side.

Game shooters traditionally use side by side shotguns. The 2 barrels are next to each other.

Under and overs have their two barrels one above the other. Shooters often use an over and under gun for clay shooting.

Semi-Automatics are loaded 1 cartridge after another into the breech, as autos only have a single barrel.

The majority of adults normally use twelve bore shotguns as they offer the perfect combination of performance and weight for the vast majority of clay targets you will see.

20 bore are often used by youngsters, ladies and by other shooters who want a lighter gun with less recoil through their shoulder.

Clap Pigeon Shooting Kit

Shotgun Slip

Keep your gun safe and protected from bangs and knocks when you are carrying and transporting it in a padded gun slip.

Cartridge Carrying Bags

It depends on the specific shooting discipline you are going to be doing as to which type of cartridge holder you opt for. Different types of shooting need different bags, pouches or pockets.

Protection For Your Eyes

Many shooters have protective eye wear with different types of lenses to protect their eyes while also ideally suiting different shooting conditions.

Ear Protection

Shotguns make a quite loud noise, and while it isn’t loud enough to necessarily cause instant damage to hearing, eventually the repeated bang can cause ear damage. Most reputable shooting grounds will insist that shooters wear ear protection, of which there are many different types, disposable plugs, molded plugs designed to fit your ear, electronic molded ear plugs as well as standard head phone type ear muffs and ear defenders with electronic sensors to muffle noise and provide protection.

Cartridge Information

Shotgun cartridges vary in cost and quality. After you have been shooting for a while you will find a specific cartridge that affords you the quality of shotgun cartridge you desire at an economic cost. These will often be the shotgun cartridges that you shoot best with!

Different targets often require different sizes of lead shot for the best chance of hitting it time after time. Larger shot goes further but there are not as many pellets of lead shot in each cartridge. Smaller lead pellets don’t fly as far but you have a wider ‘pattern’ to hit the clay target with at close range.

Many people choose different cartridge velocities. Faster velocity cartridges require less lead ahead of the target. Velocities vary from 1350 – 1650 feet/second.

Most Popular Clay Pigeon Shooting Disciplines

Shooting Skeet

Olympic level clay shooting is all skeet based. Skeet clay shooting is made up of a high and low trap that face each other. All skeet venues provide clay targets that fly within a similar path so wherever you are shooting, the targets are going to be the same.

Skeet shooting uses 7 stands, set in a semi circle between the two traps. A round consists of twenty five clay targets shot from the 7 stands. It is quite common to see the best shooters frequently hit one hundred straight.

Sporting Clays

Sporting clays are a more varied type of target because they mimic different types of game. Each week a ground will alter their clay traps so there is always a new challenge for you.

Types of Target

‘Standard’ clays are 110mm dia.

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

Minis are the same shape as standards, but only 60mm. Sometimes called bumble bees!

A Battue is a thin flat clay with a lipped outer edge, measuring 110mm across. Battues are mainly used as looping targets because they twist in the air as they decelerate, providing an interesting challenge!

Rabbit – 110mm Diameter – is stronger than a standard, designed to bounce along the ground at speed.

Principles of Clay Pigeon shooting

Shooting clays is much like catching a ball. Your hand eye coordination will automatically reach out with your shot to where the clay will be when the lead reaches it.

To shoot well, you just need a couple of basic skills; to have reasonable hand/eye coordination so you can time your shot right, and an ability to ‘read’ what each clay is doing so you correctly anticipate its flight path.

When your shot leaves your gun, it moves through the air in oval cloud. All you need to do is to make certain that the clay flies through that cloud of lead.

Understanding what the target object is doing in the air is the vital skill that will allow your hand eye coordination to correctly interpret the target and break it.

Often, an simple looking stand will be misread by a shooter, making them miss. Clubs like to include optical illusion clays to challenge even the best shots.

Shooting Methods

The speed of gun movement along with pulling the trigger at exactly the right moment are the two most important factors that will decide whether you break the clay. The two main shooting techniques are ’maintain lead’ & ‘swing through’.

Maintain lead is the most popular style to start off with. Maintain lead involves swinging your barrels through the clays path of flight, keeping your barrels the distance in front of the target that you feel is the right amount of lead.

Swing through is a technique that is often used by experienced shooters. Instead of measuring the shot, the shooter swings through the clay from behind, squeezing the trigger when they feel its right to do so.

Different Types of Target

There are 7 different types of clay bird which are used to mimic different game in a variety of situations.


Rabbit clays are the same diameter as 110mm standards, but are stronger to withstand the repeated bouncing on hard ground.

Simulated Teal

Hitting rising Teal requires a swing through technique unlike any other. Many shooters prefer to shoot Teal as they drop. Either way, they require lots of practice to hit consistently.

Quartering Clays

Quartering clays usually need less lead than crossing targets. Look to see where the target comes from & where it lands to help you to establish the clays path.


A clay target that comes straight towards you is called a driven target and imitates driven game. Your barrels will hide the target just when you want to pull the trigger so you will need to use “the force” to hit them with consistency.


Incomers head towards you, but unlike driven birds, they drop before reaching you rather then flying over your head.

Going Away Clays

Going away targets need good reactions and self confidence. Don’t wait too long before pulling the trigger.

Looper Birds

Loopers need concentration to regularly. They are often quartering to make them trickier, and can be hit on the way up or down depending on your shooting style.