Clay pigeon shooting is a fantastic sport to get involved in and can be done in large groups, which often makes it a favourite outdoor activity for organisations, clubs and parties. Whether you are looking for a fun day out, or are looking to take on the sport as a weekend hobby at a club, read our tips to help you off to a flying start.
Five starter tips for clay pigeon shooting
1. Determine your dominant eye
This is one of the first aspects to consider before you even pick up a gun for a day’s clay pigeon shooting. Determining your dominant eye is important- some right –handed people will shoot left-handed if they have a left master eye and vice versa. Likewise some people who are right handed but who have a left master eye will close one eye to help their aim. Either way it will help you decide which eye to use to look down the barrel of the gun to focus best on your target. You can easily determine your dominant eye by picking an object across the room and pointing at it. Now close your left eye. If you can still see the object at the end of your finger this means that you are right eye dominant. If the object has moved away from your finger, open your left eye and close your right, without moving your hand. If you’re left eye dominant, the object will now be at the end of your finger.
2. Mounting the gun correctly
By holding the gun in the correct position you will be able to fire your shot comfortably and accurately. Your instructor will give you your shotgun and spend some time getting comfortable mounting it to your shoulder with it unloaded. You have a groove just inside your shoulder joint and this is where the butt of the shotgun should sit. Holding the shotgun in tightly will ensure you do not get hurt by the kick of the gun when you fire. Place your front hand as far down the barrel as you can comfortably reach whilst retaining flexibility as this will help you naturally draw the butt into your shoulder and will also give you better stability.
3. Comfortable and strong standing position
By getting your feet in the right position and holding your body correctly you will be able to maintain accuracy when firing shot after shot. You want to have both feet facing down the range, with one foot in front of the other. The foot farthest forward will be your foot on the opposite side to your trigger finger. While you want to remain balanced, a good tip is to have the majority of your weight leaning forward on this foot as this is what will keep you steady and help to maintain balance so you’re prepared for the next clay release. It will also help your body naturally absorb the gun’s recoil without your feeling as though you are being pushed backwards.
4. Bring your head to the shotgun
This is often a problem for new clay pigeon shooters. Instead of keeping the body steady and bringing the head into position, it can be tempting to lean back or slouch the body to be positioned. Your instructor will correct you, however you’ll get extra bonus points if from the start you bring your head down to position while maintaining your posture. When you bring your head down to the shotgun you should be able to see right down the barrel and have clear visibility of the bead. If you are unsure about correct positioning, don’t worry; simply ask your instructor for some help aligning the shotgun and they will be more than happy to help.
5. Stay steady and calm while firing
The trick to hitting your clay comes down to two things – your positioning and not delaying your shot. Your instructor will give you hints for a good starting position at your particular venue, but this quick tip on positioning is sure to impress. Follow the clay as it comes out of the trap. Keeping your eye down the barrel of the gun, be sure to keep the bead at the end of your gun inline – resist the temptation to just follow the clay with your eyes…the barrels must follow your line of sight. Just as the clay disappears out of sight below or across your sight, squeeze the trigger. This should help you come closer to making an accurate shot. Another important tip is to shoot at the clay pigeon as it’s rising; once it starts to fall bide your time and wait for another clay to be released.
With these five clay pigeon shooting tips you should be well on your way to understanding the basics of clay pigeon shooting. There are some rules and instructions your instructor will explain to you on the day, such as always wearing ear defenders and keeping the gun pointed down range. Safety is absolutely critical at all times. Wear comfortable clothing for shooting and get ready to spark that passion for a country sport that we love dearly at ArdMoor.
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