All You Need to Know to Get Started with Clay Targets

With deer season nearly over in most of the country, hunters are getting restless about getting back outdoors. What’s the perfect answer? Clay targets!

If you’ve never shot clay pigeons before, it is a fun and fast-paced way to keep your skills up outside of hunting season. Animals don’t sit still and wait for you to slowly take aim and line up the perfect shot. Clay pigeons give shooters an opportunity to test their mojo against a (rapidly!) moving target. This can be particularly fun when shooting round robin in a group of friends. Here’s all you need to know to get started with clay targets.

Clay Shooting aka Trap Shooting

There are a variety of different terms that you’ll hear that all refer to clay targets and the process of shooting at them: clay targets, clay pigeons, skeet, sporting clays, trap shooting and clay shooting. In general, an individual uses a shotgun to quickly aim at and obliterate a small round of clay as it shoots through the air at around 41 miles per hour — but can be rocketed into the sky at nearly 80 miles per hour by specialized shooters. Targets are launched into the sky and you have seconds to raise your weapon, aim and blast off in an attempt to fully fracture the target.

Informal Clay Target Shooting

As long as you have a safe space and plenty of room away from neighbors, informal skeet shooting can be a great deal of fun. You don’t need a fancy trap machine to shoot those little clay frisbees into the air. All you need is a handheld flinger, a couple of boxes of clay targets and a shotgun and you’ll have an afternoon of fun for the whole family. This informal option is great for preteens and older youth as it gives them an opportunity to learn how to lead their target in a non-threatening fashion without the eyes of many people on them in a formal tournament.

Formal Trap & Skeet Shooting

Many clubs have tournaments or courses set up for a more formal approach to shooting clay targets. American trap shooting has shooters standing in line side by side, all prepping to aim at clay targets that are shot from underground bunkers. The height and shooting line are consistent as is the vertical angle of the launch. With skeet shooting, you are more likely to find a variety of different angles in play to simulate different types of game that you could be hunting. Two types of machines, a “high house” and a “low house” are used to launch the clay birds into the air. Finally, sporting clays are generally available in a course that is laid out much as a golf course would be with different stations over a more structured course. Shooters sit or stand in proscribed locations, and are never completely sure where the skeet will launch from or where it will go.

Regardless of how you decide to get started with clay targets, this is a fun way to get outdoors and enjoy the new shotgun you got for the holidays!

~ Firearm Daily

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