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 they outlawed this practice in 1921 and replaced the targets with clay. That is why they’re called clay pigeons. In most cases, shooters use a shotgun for this sport.

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.

Sporting Clays

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

Shooters use a wide variety of angles, speeds, trajectories, elevations, and distances for targets for 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 sports trap.

Trap Shooting

In this version, targets launch one or two at a time with varying distances from 16 to 27 yards from the shooter in 1-yard increments at various speeds and trajectories.

Skeet Shooting

Enjoy Clay Shooting

Targets launch 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.

Maze Clays Shooting

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

Down-the-Line

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

Olympic Trap

Olympic trap is complex and varied. Find out all the details about this special form by catching up on the Olympic games.

Universal Trench

Universal uses five traps at different elevations and angles for this variation.

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 create the unique flight path of the targets.

how to handle clay shooting

Types of Shotguns Used in Clay Shooting

There are many 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 reloads from a tubular-shaped magazine and a slider grip that comes in away from the shooter. These guns are popular in the U.S., and less so in Europe. This gun is slower than most other guns except the single shot shotgun. It’s 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. However, it 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-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 to 28 inches, typically with open chokes. The third is for sporting, and these guns have an interchangeable choke with long barrel lengths up to 28 to 30 inches.

Side-by-side

A side-by-side is just like it sounds. It’s 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, want to find a skeet shooting event near you,  you can find spots to engage in the sport in most areas of the world. Find more information about locations to enjoy clay shooting in the USA at websites devoted to the topic.

It’s okay if you are a beginner, you can sign up for courses and receive instruction and help at every step of the way. Just check with your local gun club, or ask a local gun store for recommendations.

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