Sporting Clays – Fast, Fun and for All Seasons
Even though I’m a hunter, I was a bit intimidated the first time I went sporting clays shooting. I’ve always seen people do it and they make it look so easy, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ll admit, I’m not the best at asking for advice or help. So, any chance I get, I like to give people advice on things that I had to learn either the hard way or on my own. With that in mind, if you’ve never shot “clays” before, here are a few tips that I feel helped me when I first started that may help you as well.
Sporting clays is a great way to practice for hunting birds in the off-season. It can also keep us hunters in tune when bird season ends. While it may seem like common sense, training yourself to focus on the target rather than looking down the gun barrel or at the bead takes practice. When you shoot at a clay bird, envision that the clay is a bird and point your gun to where you imagine the break point. You do not want to “aim” at the clay, as aiming takes a lot longer and you will find yourself shooting behind the intended target. Plus, aiming is for shooting a pistol or rifle whereas “pointing” is for shotgun shooting. Movement is critical in shotgun shooting. Clay birds typically fly through the air at 40-50 miles per hour. So, if you aim at the clay bird and stop your barrel while doing so … the bird is long gone and you’ve likely shot behind the target.
I learned early on that it’s wise to place your index finger down the forearm of the gun and point at the bird. Imagine a bird in flight – it has a definite line of flight as it travels through the air. Same with a clay bird. Have the trapper pull a bird or two before you step into the station so you can determine the target’s path of flight. Follow it with your index finger. Then, once you step into the station and call ‘pull’, follow that line of flight with your lead index finger on the gun’s forearm. Come from behind the bird on its line of flight, pass through the bird and then kill it. There are other ways to go about it such as sustained lead or coming from below the bird to meet it at its apex, but I have found the pass-through method is the best way for me to go about it. Give it a try.
I always say, practice makes permanent. Practice is essential to develop the skills needed to become a great shooter. You don’t need to spend countless hours doing so, but it is important to put the time in so you can become a better, more natural shooter. You should work on firing as quickly as you can. Don’t worry about taking longer shots at first. Just work on the relatively close ones. That’s what you’ll encounter in the real world, out in the field, where targets appear and disappear rapidly. Be ready!
Shooting sporting clays has been referred to as “golf with a shotgun.” I’m terrible at golf and great with a gun, so I personally can’t relate to that at all (ha!).! What I do know is that trap, skeet and sporting clays shooting requires shooting a lot of shells. You will need ammunition that will be reliable and consistent shot after shot. Browning’s Performance Target Shotshell is perfect for any shooter that spends a lot of time breaking clays. The secret behind BPT is hard shot. BPT uses premium hard antimony shot that will keep the shot more round to help deliver tight patterns and maximum target-breaking energy. They’ve also incorporated a smooth hull that allows for a sleek profile for reliable functioning and ejection.
Everyone is different and has reasons for why they like what they do. I’ve found that if you ask five people that shoot sporting clays the ammo they use, you’ll get five different answers. That’s why you’ll never hear me say that one ammo choice is better than the next, I will just simply tell you what I have found that works best for me and why I use it. For me, Browning’s target load is simply one of the most reliable and consistent shell you can shoot. It’s perfect for any shooter that spends a lot of time breaking clays and need top performance at an affordable price.
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