Sporting Clays 101
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Sporting Clay Shooting 101

Types of Shotguns: There are several different types of shotguns but the three most frequently used on sporting clays are:
*Pump: A gun with one barrel in which after you shoot the first shell you must “pump” the forearm of the gun to cycle the next shell into the chamber for the next shot. Pump guns work fine for non-competitive fun shooting.  Once you start to get more competitive you might want to change to a semi-auto or an over and under so that you can shoot the second shot quicker.
*Semi –Auto:  A gun with one barrel that will feed the second shell into the chamber automatically after the first shell is shot.
*Over and Under: A shotgun that has two barrels one situated over the other one.  After loading two shells into the two chambers the gun will be able to shot twice with two pulls of the trigger.

Gauges:  Gauge basically refers to a specific size chamber of the gun and then the specific size shell that fits that gun. Most used gages for sporting clays are 12 and 20.  Yet for recreational shooters who do not own a 12 or 20 gauge gun, a 16, 28 or 410 can be used.  A 12 gauge is a bigger shell that fits into a bigger chamber gun where a 410 fit the smallest shotgun chamber.

Text Box: Varies styles of Chokes 
Shot size: Shot refers to the pellets that are in the shell.  The lower the number, the bigger the size of the shot. The largest size shot you can use on a sporting clays course is 7.5. The shot size for shooting at clay targets range from 7.5 to 9.  As a new shooter the size of the shot does not matter a lot.  Ask the advice of the gun club.

Chokes: Chokes are the constriction at the end of the barrel that will make the shot  come out either in a large open ball (cylinder choke) or a long tight ball (full choke).  There are about 6 choke sizes in between these two.  Some guns come with a fix choke that is built into the barrel and cannot be change.  Other gun comes with removable chokes that can be changed when needed.  A cylinder (open) choke is used at close targets where the full choke is used at very far away targets. Other chokes are used in between these.  Again as a new shooter don’t get too overwhelm as to what choke to use. You can ask the advice of the gun club.

 Safety is the biggest concern for the gun club and the shooters.  If you follow all of the safety rules you will have a safe and fun time.
1.  Always treat a gun as if it was loaded                                                                               
2. Always point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction. 
3. Unless you are in the stand ready to shoot, always have the action of your gun open and unloaded.
4. When loading your gun have your gun in-between the stand’s uprights so it will be pointed in a safe direction.
5.  Use eye and ear protection.
6.  Stay on the path and shoot only from the stands
7. No alcohol beverage before or during shooting.

Sporting Clays Club:
 A club can be private, where you will need a membership to shoot.  A combination of private and public, where you can have a membership and have membership privileges or you can shoot there without a membership.  There are also public clubs were no memberships are needed or offered. 

Depending on the club you go to, you may have a trapper that will go out with you and “throw” your targets for you as you move through the stations.  At other clubs you may “throw” all of your own targets by pushing buttons for each other and keeping track of your own score and how much you shoot.  A third type of club you may attend is a club that has all electronic counters and pullers.  At these clubs they will give you a “key card” that you will put in a device at each stand.  

Layout of a Sporting Clays Course:
The sporting clays course is similar to a golf course as to having different stations/holes. At each station the traps will be in different arrangements so that each station the targets will come out different. There will be between 10 to 15 stations on a hundred target course. Each station will have a shooting stand, one to three traps, a “menu” (a sign that says how many to shoot and what order).  Then depending on where you are, the station may also have table/bench, buttons to throw the targets, or a device to plug in your shooting key to throw the targets.

Shooting Sporting Clays:
When you arrive at the first station the first shooter can get in the stand and see where the targets are coming from.  You throw one “view” pair of targets for the first shooter to see.  The other shooters will see where they are coming from while watching the first shooter. The menu in front will say what order you are to shoot the targets.  Singles: where you throw only one target.  True Pair: you throw both targets at the same time.  Report pair: you throw one target first then on the “report” (sound of the gun) you throw the second.  Once you have seen the targets you load your gun with only two shells, call “pull” and the trapper throws the targets as described on the menu.  Once you have shot the number of pairs on the menu, make sure the action of the gun is open and empty and leave the stand.  After the first shooter leaves the stand the next shooter shoots the menu.  Once all of the shooters of the squad have shot, then you move on to the next station. 

Shooting Etiquette
Always follow safety rules
Do not eject your empty shells from over and under out on other people.  Put them in trash cans.
Let other shooters shoot through
Do not crowd the stand when someone else is shooting
Be aware of the shooting order and be ready when it is your turn
Be quite when other people are shooting.  This includes when driving past in a gas cart.
Don’t throw multiple “view” targets at a station and pay for any extra targets
#1 Be safe and have fun


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Last modified: June 30, 2015