View Full Version : sporting clays instruction/tips/method.

August 23, 2009, 07:19 PM
I shot my first round of Sporting Clays this weekend and I'm hooked. I have only shot Skeet once, and informal clays a dozen or so times. Shot a 58 out of 100 with a gun I have never wingshot with and had an absolute ball. I had the most trouble with quartering in shots. I want to get better and lear what I'm actually supposed to be doing. Can anyone point me in the direction of some basic instrucion or videos.

the rifleer
August 23, 2009, 07:54 PM
Buy several hundred rounds of ammo and a couple of boxes of clays and knock yourself out...

August 23, 2009, 08:04 PM
Been there done that...I wanna learn the right way...not just memorize bad habbits. Perfect practice makes perfect

August 24, 2009, 01:55 PM
Talk to some of the better shooters in your area / see if they can recommend a good coach / instructor.

There are also some very good DVD's on the market / via sunrise video ... one of the better on Sporting Clays, I think, is Bobby Fowler Jr / on Skeet, I like Todd Bender.

Here is a link .......when you go to the site / they have a little intro for each that you can run / the eye-cam technology really makes an impact.


August 24, 2009, 05:03 PM
If you want to do it for a bunch of $ then hire a coach.

If you want it on the cheap. Begin to hit the clays course on a regular basis and see who is hitting them. Once the regulars see you around for a while they will usually help you out and give advice. Never be afraid to ask. I would be hesitant to help someone (only been doing this for about 3 years and still learning) but if they asked I might be able to make suggestions on how to stand where to hold, with out causing too much damage.

I started helping out at my club when I started shooting clays. It is all volunteer, I would stay around and try and help clean up, put machines away etc. The good shooters tend to notice those types of things and began to give me tips on improving stance, hold points etc. A couple of the guys who shoot there all the time shoot skeet on a competition level began to invite me to to shoot with them during their practice sessions etc. Another guy shoots competition trap and another used to be a top sporting clays shooter. I learned a ton, it is like private lessons, and gained a bunch of friends in the process.

August 25, 2009, 03:58 PM
If you are interested in learning the correct method, imho, go buy "The Secret of the Triangle". It was produced by Dan Carlisle, who in my opinion is one of the best teachers in the US. His "pull away" method works on every type of target, and oh by the way, if he is good enough to coach the US Army marksmanship team he is good enough for me.


August 25, 2009, 05:49 PM
I don't mean to derail the thread, but that seems to be one of my super powers. Sporting clays looks like an absolute kick in the pants and my wife and I are thinking about trying it. We have a pair of Winchester 1897s in 12ga with 30" full choke barrels. Are they appropriate? I also have a 12ga black powder sxs, but I'm pretty sure that nobody wants to be around that for very long.

If we can make a go of it with the 97s, that would make me happy.

August 25, 2009, 06:15 PM

With your W-1897, you'll eventually become frustrated because of the inability to easily get off a rapid second shot, and the limitation of one choke for both shots. Sporting clays are ideally shot with an O/U with screw-in chokes. You get a fast second shot and can select the chokes appropriate to the presentation.

Of course, that doesn't mean you can't have tons of fun with your '97 :D

August 25, 2009, 06:19 PM
The optimum gun for sporting clays is probably a 12ga gun with an Imp Cyclinder or a Modified choke. The sporting clays fields offer a variety of shots ( crossing like a Skeet target, outgoing like a Trap target, some tower shots, some rolling targets referred to as rabbits, some incoming targets ) so most of us that shoot Sporting use a number of different chokes depending on the range of the target.

You can use any 12ga shotgun that is capable of loading 2 shells / because you will have some "true pairs" where both targets are in the air at once.

O/U's dominate the game, but there are a lot of semi-autos and a few pump guns seen on the courses - but you can shoot whatever you want / even a 20ga if that is what you want to shoot.

Frank Ettin
August 25, 2009, 06:26 PM
We have a pair of Winchester 1897s in 12ga with 30" full choke barrels. Are they appropriate?...If we can make a go of it with the 97s, that would make me happy. My own opinion is that you certainly could start with the '97s, with three caveats.

[1] How do they fit you and your wife? Have you shot, and hit, flying targets with them? Gun fit is pretty important in wingshooting. You focus on the target, and if the gun doesn't "shoot where you are looking" you can have a very tough and frustrating time of it.

[2] Because of the variety of target presentations, full choke is not the best choice. You'll have some fairly long "going away" shots for which it would be fine. But you'll also have some close in, crossing fast movers for which it would be a lot less fine.

[3] Even the last '97s made are pretty old guns now, and the clay target games tend to involve fairly high volume shooting. So your guns will get a good work out. If they're in good shape, they should be fine, but you might want to have a few spare parts around just in case.

Bottom line is that your '97s aren't the best choice, but they would probably serve just fine to let you see how you like the game. They'd get you started. But please be advised that if you get the bug you will probably soon be shopping for a couple of new guns. At least it's been my experience introducing a bunch or people to trap shooting, that no matter what kind of gun they start with, once they get the bug, they're off gun shopping.

August 26, 2009, 09:14 AM
Oh, break my heart, more gun shopping :rolleyes: Well, maybe break my wife's heart.

I think that we're going to give it a whirl next week and see how we like it. The guns fit us just fine, but I can see the problem with quick shots - those actions aren't exactly speedy. But the guns are in excellent condition; their main purpose, back in the '30s was for putting dinner on the table, so they got tender, loving care. After that, they spent the intervening 65 years or so sitting in a closet in the desert.

A couple of nice O/Us would look kind of nice next to them :p

Dave McC
August 26, 2009, 02:23 PM
Some of the most fun I've had on Sporting courses has been with a pumpgun.

My better scores are with an O/U set up for the game, but numbers are not everything.

Were I taking a full choke 97 to a SC course, I'd....

Have a smith check it out first. The last 97 is a half century old now.

Given his blessing, I'd pattern it with loads of choice and establish it shoots where I look.

Using skeet loads of 9s for the close shots,trap 8s out to 35 yards or so and Premium loads of 7.5s for the WOD shots, I'd have fun and concentrate on the leading molecule of each target.

You may surprise a lot of people with how well you do, including you.


August 26, 2009, 04:23 PM
There are also some other forums that have great folks and good info on sporting clays:

www.Shotgunworld.com, and

www.shotgunsports.com/ (currently getting revamped)

If sporting courses aren't readily available, a good alternative is 5-stand, which is basically a compact sporting course for clubs without the land available.

Welcome to the addiction

September 12, 2009, 02:58 PM
I've just started a new shotgun sports forum, www.claysportsonline.com (http://www.claysportsonline.com), & I'd like you to invite you to come and check it out. If you love to shoot FITASC, sporting clays, trap or skeet, take a look. We've got shoot announcements, event scores, shotgun reviews, shooting tips, shooting articles, photos and videos or just come over and talk to some other shooters. If you've got a question about clay shooting, there's always someone online who can answer it! Hope to see you there!

Good shooting to you-


September 12, 2009, 03:52 PM
For quartering shots, shooting stations 2,3,5,and 6 on a skeet field can be a good cheap alternative. Most folks miss them behind. If you know you're behind, the cheapest advice I would give you is :"Try to miss in front" - Got that told to me by a M-class shooter and will usually work, even if you THINK it's too much. Works on crossers, quarterers, and dropping targets very well

October 21, 2009, 07:09 AM
If you are just starting out... consider a Beretta 391 & keep it clean to minimize gun malfunctions. It's light, responsive and with a recoil system, no recoil at all. Keeps you shooting longer & you can have more fun while you're doing it.

Make sure your gun fits so it shoots where you look and look hard at the target!

Good shooting to you--

Uncle Billy
October 21, 2009, 07:30 AM
When I was learning how to shoot trap, 2 things were of great help after I had applied what I had been told (follow through, don't stop the swing, head up, etc) and was still missing more than not:

I had an experienced shooter look over my shoulder and call the shot. If my lead was too much or too little, he'd say "Ahead of it", or "too low", whatever.

Someone had a box of 12 gauge trap load tracers. We often found that 2 or 3 of them were all that was needed for a learning shooter (which is everyone all the time no matter how long they've been at it) to see what his or her mistakes were and jump his score a bunch all at once. I don't know if tracers are still available.

October 21, 2009, 04:10 PM
As for choke constrictions - IC, LM, & M will cover just about anything you could run into. A SK will be handy, but not necessary.

There are coaches all over - some balk at the cost, but there are good ones who will do small group - (2 or 3) and your cost is a little less. Then there is getting your gun fitted - if your coach does that as well, even better.

Even at a few hundred, IF you're going to do this for a long time and invest thousands or tens of thousands over that time period, a few hundred to "learn it right" seems like a bargain

October 21, 2009, 11:37 PM
I just started shooting as well.

I didn't do well the first time. In fact, I did so poorly I don't even want to tell you my score :D.

But after some help and instruction from others, I did well the second time.

The more experienced shooters pretty much told me the same things:
1. both eyes open
2. point, don't aim
3. proper choke selection
4. something about stance and mount (their beautiful O/Us distracted me :p).
5. something about swing/follow through

I'm sure I don't have everything listed, but I was told that those are fairly important.

If you want to get more technical, this book might be for you:


Hope that kind of helps :).

October 22, 2009, 12:04 PM
Hank - don't forget about "seeing" the target - is it belly, edge or dome? Is it outgoing as little or crossing> Is it curling (like a frisbee), or on a true flight line?

Target setters do their best to mess with your head and eyes, trying to make you think one thing while the target does another. A good coach can really help, along with LOTS of practice

October 22, 2009, 02:34 PM
Hmm...none of them mentioned "seeing" the target, but I'll find out the next time I go.

I hope this is the right question to ask: are you saying that I should figure out the clay's flight path and then determine my lead?

I am still a newb :D, so please correct me if I misunderstood you.

October 22, 2009, 03:47 PM
yes, you need to read the target line - and take into account if its quartering or crossing - and the lead will be different.

You also need to look at whether the target is under power / or losing speed - because the rate of decent will slow as it loses speed and your lead will change again - depending on where you intend to break it.

My best recommendation - shoot some Skeet / get your leads down on a Skeet field - and shoot some singles Trap / and some continental Trap (where you have a faster bird / and bigger and higher and lower angles ) and get a feel for all 3 games - as you transition into Sporting Clays.

And on Rabbits / just get mean and aggressive ...

My buddy tells me all the time - look at the "leading edge" not the butt ...and focus so much, you can see the rings on the target .... / now I couldn't see the rings on a target anymore, unless I had a 7 power pair of magnifiers on .... but see the leading edge, kill the leading edge .... see the butt ( you might be behind it all the way ) - and "feel" the lead / don't measure it ....

Find the bird, insert the gun into and on the target line - match the target line and the speed of the target with sustained lead - and kill it (and never ever, look at your barrel ) watch the target break, keep your gun moving and follow thru - then don't move the gun, shift your eyes, to find the 2nd target - then repeat above ...... ( sounds easy ...but its not )... but as long as you're having fun, who cares...

October 26, 2009, 02:49 PM
Every once in awhile, I'll get a notification that such-and-such sporting clay range is going to hold Level I, Level II, or Level III courses for sporting clay instructors and that they need novice shooters, intermediate shooters, or advanced shooters, respectively, to act as trainees (guinea pigs is really what they asked for) for people getting lessons to become instructors. I have shot as a novice for level I instructors-in-training, and I was secretly told "miss more," so that the instructor-trainee would have something to tell me. I have also shot as an intermediate shooter for Level II's and as an advanced shooter for Level III's. The cost for me was the same as shooting a round (two a couple of times) of sporting clays, and I picked up a few pointers in the process.

July 8, 2013, 09:51 PM
Good evening,

New to this sport. How do you keep your focus on the edge of the clay and pull away to the appropriate lead? One must have to divert attention away from the target to acquire the lead.

Thanks for your help.

July 9, 2013, 10:37 AM
Holy necro thread, Batman!......:D:D

Pull away is only one of several methods for shooting sporting clays.

Per Gil and Vicki Ash - two great instructors, you focus 95% on the front edge of the bird and maybe 5% on the barrel in your periphery; otherwise you start to focus only on the space between the target. The more you are aware of the lead and not the target, the more you focus on the lead and not the target and the more you miss.

You start by determining your hold point, insertion point and break point. You work from back to front - in other words, you start where you want the bird to break - that is the point where you see the target the clearest - and then work back about 1/3 of the way towards the machine. Keep your eyes on the target, coming off the machine if you can see it, while your muzzles are at your insertion point on the target flight line. As the target crosses that insertion point, you are moving the gun to the target. When you catch the target (keeping your focus ON the target), you pull away as you fire

July 14, 2013, 07:46 PM
You are being bombarded with alot of information, some of it inacurate. Do yourself a favor and take a lesson. Im an NSCA instructor, so I may be a little biased, but I think its worth the money and you'll get started off on the right foot. MAKE SURE they are an NSCA certified coach, and at least Level 2. Ive met a lot of really good shooters that were horrible teachers.

For a new shooter, I would start off by checking eye dominance and seeing if you are mounting the gun correctly and have a reasonable gun fit.

Then I would teach you how to see the bird and the difference between hard and soft focus. You cannot hit what you arent seeing.

Once you are seeing the bird we would learn the following mantra,

Break Point, Foot Position, Hold Point and Visual.

Learn what each of those are, and how to apply them every time you step in the box, you will have a good foundation for success.

Once you have a decent foundation you can build on it by learning how to shoot specific presentations, but you have to learn to walk before you can run.

July 17, 2013, 05:01 PM
( the thread is 4 yrs old guys....)....." It's Dead ".....