Sporting clays is a discipline of the larger sport of clay pigeon shooting.

Clay pigeon shooting involves using a firearm, usually a double-barreled shotgun, to shoot and hit specially-made clay targets (clay pigeons) at close ranges. Clay pigeon has a wide number of disciplines, actually more than 20, of which sporting clays is one.

Sporting clays has a number of sub-disciplines, including the English Sporting clays, which is the most followed clay shooting sport in the world. Other sub-disciplines within sporting clays include international (FITASC) sporting, Compak sporting, and super sporting sport trap. Skeet shooting is a commonly know popular variation of clay pigeon shooting most people have heard of.

Sporting Clays Facts for Everyone

The sporting clays are a form of pigeon clay shooting that is commonly referred to as “golf with a shotgun” among many. This is due to the way the game is laid out, with 10 to 15 different shooting stations spread out over a natural course, that most of the time is contained on no fewer than 35 acres of land.

Clay targets are used, flying at a wide range of elevations, angles, speeds, trajectories, and distances originally designed to simulate real-life live quarry situations that one may encounter while hunting on sporting “stands.” Animals such as bolting rabbits, dropping ducks, springing teal, and driven pheasant are simulated in the action of this sport.

boy shooting, wearing safety glasses

Image via Twin Cities

During the course of a game of sporting clays, the shooters will make their way through a 10 to 15 station course. Each of these stations involve the shooting of six to 10 targets, with a total of 50 to 100 targets used in every game for each shooter. Targets are launched in pairs, and may simulate conditions such as coming inward, crossing from either side, rolling on the ground, flying upwards, thrown from towers, or arcing in the air.

The courses for clay sporting are not the same as a skeet shooting range, which are very popular.

Equipment for Sporting Clays

Sporting clays requires certain equipment for play to take place. There are many levels of play for shooters across the world, from amateurs practicing on makeshift terrain with handheld target throwers to professional competitions, including even the Olympic games, which holds some clay shooting events during the summer games.

In all of the different types of play involving the clay shooting sports, the same equipment is used by everyone, including firearms, target throwers, and clay targets. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the equipment used in this wonderful sport.

1. Guns

In almost all of the sporting clays, usually a double-barreled shotgun is the preferred firearm for most situations. There are several types of double-barreled guns most commonly used. The most used guns include the “over-and-under” and “side-by-side” shotguns.

The over-and-under shotgun features two barrels, one placed on top of the other vertically and aligned horizontally to form two barrels, with a top barrel and a bottom barrel. The side-by-side shotgun also has two barrels, but are placed next to each other horizontally, forming a left barrel and right barrel arrangement.

2. Clay Target Throwers

Using a target thrower called a “trap” with a target holder called a “house,” clay targets are launched by remote control or by the sound of someone’s voice.

Some of these machines can be hand-loaded, hand-cocked, and hand-released and are relatively inexpensive. There are other models, however, that are highly sophisticated, being rotational, spring-loaded flywheel devices that are operated with computer monitoring for accuracy in scoring, as in professional level trap throwers used in the Olympic games.

These machines are fully automatic and can hold up to 600 individual clay targets at a time and are released or launched using electrical or pneumatic machinery.

3. Clay Targets.

For sporting clays, many different types of clay targets are used. These range from mini clay targets only 60 millimeters in diameter with a height of 20 millimeters, to the standard and battue clay targets ranging from 108-110 millimeters in diameter with a height of 25-29 millimeters in height.

Some other targets may also be used, including the ZZ targets, which have two propellers attached to them, which cause irregular unpredictable flight patterns during competition, testing the shooters skills.

If You Are Interested in Competing

If you are interested in clay shooting, and want to become a player and compete on the local, regional, national, or international level, you can easily find out how by contacting the National Sporting Clays Association and inquiring about membership. The same resources will answer your questions if you want to play other forms of the clay shooting sports and you wonder, “where is a skeet shooting event near me?”

Remember that at all times, safety is a priority, and knowing and following the basic gun safety rules is critical for everyone.

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