5 Sporting Clays Shooting Tips

A few quick and helpful tips to put more X's on your scorecard.

As the weather begins to warm, before the heat of summer arrives is a great time to break out the scattergun and head out to the clay range. Spring is a great time to break some clays with friends and family and improve your scores on the clays course. Shooting clays is always a fun experience, but it is always better when you are breaking more clays. Some shots aren't as difficult as they may appear, but learning the technique and fine-tuning those skills can show the difference on your scorecard. Here are some helpful tips that you may find beneficial in boosting your score on your next trip to the clay course.

  1. Walk the Rabbit; Rabbit targets can be quite unpredictable, but can also be some of the simplest targets to break. Sure some hops are unpredictable but generally, the rabbit travels the same path each time. A simple tip to remember to help break the rabbit is to "walk the rabbit". As you call pull, begin to move your shotgun in the direction that the target will travel. As you acquire the target, focus your shotgun bead on the leading edge or nose of the rabbit and track the target. When you feel you are "walking the rabbit" and have a solid focus on the leading edge, pull the trigger. This tip can be very helpful, especially when you pair it with some practice on these specific targets.
  2. On It, With It, Ease Away; This next tip is best used with a crossing target, although it can also be applied to others as well. As you call pull on a crosser, begin to move your gun in the same direction that the target will travel. As the target catches up to your gun, match the target and get "on it". Once you are on the target, follow it matching the speed and direction, thus forming the "with it". Once you are on the target and then have stayed with it, begin to pull away in front of the target increasing the perceived distance between your gun and the target, and pull the trigger. Crossing targets are almost always different in distance, angle, and speed, but this tip simplifies the crossing shot and allows you to focus on one technique that covers nearly any crossing target.
  3. Stay Ahead of Your Target; This tip is helpful with any shot on a sporting clay course. You want to make sure to always stay on or in front of your target, not allowing your target to "outrun" your gun. If you are playing catchup on a target, it is much more difficult to acquire the sight picture that you need to break the clay. It is also an easy way to make mistakes such as swinging past or through your target or allowing it to get out of range before you can acquire your correct sight picture. This tip is very simple in nature but can make a big difference on your scorecard.
  4. Point, Don't Aim; Most veteran clay shooters will agree, you point a shotgun, not aim it. With a rifle, you make sure to take precise aim, aligning your sights with the target and squeezing the trigger ever so carefully. A shotgun is much different. With a shotgun, you are throwing a string of shot at a moving target to intersect the target with that shot string, causing the target to break. The concepts of shooting a rifle and a shotgun are similar in that you want to hit your intended target, but the techniques used to execute your shot are different. Shooting a shotgun properly requires you to point it where the target is going to be and not where the target is at the present time. Visualize your shot string leaving the gun barrel, traveling through the air, and hitting the clay. As you swing your shotgun while tracking your target, you point it where you want your shot string to intersect the clay and break it. Shooting a shotgun gives you a little more room for error than a rifle on a stationary target. Use this to your advantage on the clay course and point it where you want to break the target and pull the trigger. Overthinking your shot can often lead to "aiming" too precisely and end up with a miss in the end.
  5. Practice Difficult Shots; Each clay shooter more than likely has one type or style of target that they struggle with more than others. As you shoot a clay course, you may find yourself missing more crossers for example than chandelle or arching targets. Take time to practice on these specific targets and improve your skills on these targets. Once you can break a target consistently, find a target that is moving faster or farther away or even in some cases, closer in and practice more of these. The more powder you burn on any given target, the more confidence you will gain and the better you will get at breaking targets. Practice and time on the range can never be underestimated. The more time spent bettering your technique and putting shot downrange, the higher your scores will be.

**Image Courtesy of Savage Arms