Clay shooting is a popular sport, otherwise known as “clay pigeon shooting” or formally as “inanimate bird shooting.” In this sport, a shooter uses a firearm to aim and fire on round flying clay targets known as “clay targets,” also called “clay pigeons.”

Clay shooting includes over 20 different types of “disciplines” that comprise the sport, including sporting clay, trap, and skeet. Originally, the sport involved shooting live pigeons, but this practice was outlawed in 1921, to be replaced with these clay targets, hence the common name “clay pigeons.” In most cases, the firearm used in this sport is the shotgun.

The Basic Types of Clay Shooting

In the sport of clay shooting, there are many different forms. Over 20 types of clay shooting as sports exist, and these “disciplines” are all somewhat different from each other. Let’s take a look at some of the forms of clay shooting most commonly engaged in throughout the world.

  1. Sporting Clays

The sport of clay shooting’s biggest following is for the English Sporting discipline. In the other disciplines, only standard targets are used, but for this discipline, there are many different sizes involved, and basically anything goes.

A wide variety of angles, speeds, trajectories, elevations, and distances for targets are used for the sporting clays. This discipline is intended to simulate real-world live quarry shooting. Sub-disciplines within the group are international (FITASC), English sporting, Compak sporting, and super sporting sport trap.

  1. Trap Shooting

In this version, targets are launched one or two at a time with varying distances from 16 to 27 yards from the shooter in one-yard increments at various speeds and trajectories.

  1. Skeet Shooting

Enjoy Clay Shooting

Targets are launched in single or double form from opposite ends of a 40-meter semi-circular arc set-up. Sometimes, there are up to 25 targets per round, although this number varies.

  1. Maze Clays Shooting

This is a new game where a set-up launches from 6-9 traps to target presentations that vary from 10 to 60 yards at changing angles, from sharp to wide.

  1. Down-the-Line

In this version, targets are launched to 45 to 50 meters at a height of 2.75 meters with a 22-degree spread on any side of the center line.

  1. Olympic Trap

This is the form of the sport that is used in the Olympic games.

  1. Universal Trench

Five traps are used at different elevations and angles for this variation.

  1. Helice or Electrocibles Shooting

The targets in this game are designed to have an erratic and unpredictable flight, making the shots more challenging. Usually two-winged plastic propellers are used to create the unique flight path of the targets.

how to handle clay shooting

Types of Shotguns Used in Clay Shooting

There are a number of shotguns typically used for the sport of clay shooting, here is a list of the most commonly found shotguns most people use for the sport:

  • Pump-Action: This shotgun features a single barrel, that features reloading from a tubular shaped magazine with a slider grip that comes in and then away from shooter. These guns are popular in the US, and less so in Europe. This gun is slower than most other guns except the single shot shotgun. Similar in mechanical complexity to a semi-automatic weapon but does not feature a similar recoil reduction.
  • Semi-Auto: This gun features one barrel that loads a new shell automatically from a magazine after every shot but requires the shooter to fire each individual round manually. The design of this gun includes reduced recoil, is lightweight, and allows rapid follow up shots.
  • Over and Under: This gun features two barrels, one on top of the other. Usually most models have one trigger, but some feature two. There are three sub-types for the sport of clay shooting. The first is for trap and are generally longer barreled and heavier. The second is for skeet, and these are typically lightweight guns that operate more rapidly with a barrel length ranging from 26-28 inches with usually open chokes. The third is for Sporting, and these guns have an interchangeable choke with long barrel lengths up to 28-30 inches.
  • Side-by-Side: A two-barrel shotgun, with both barrels next to each other horizontally.
  • Single Shot: Many competitors use single shot shotguns for singles trap shooting. These guns have one shot at a time and are manually reloaded shell by shell.

clay shooting in the field

Where to Enjoy Clay Shooting

If you want to enjoy clay shooting, and ask yourself the question, for example, “where is a skeet shooting event near me?” you can find spots to engage in the sport in most areas of the world. You can find more information about locations to enjoy clay shooting in the USA at websites devoted to the topic.

It’s ok if you are a beginner, you can sign up for courses and get instruction and help at every step of the way.

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