Hoton Clay Club


      Clay pigeon shooting in the East Midlands


Clay shooting for beginners

(or how to blag your way through your first clay shoot)


If you fancy a go at clay pigeon shooting just come along and we will look after you. If you think you would like to know a bit more about it so that all the jargon isn't quite so confusing here is a list of buzz words and some explanations to make you more at home when you come along.

First and foremost- If you are a new shooter or a would be shooter make yourself known at the Clubhouse at any shoot and be perfectly honest about your level of experience. Nobody will ever thing the worse of you for being new and less experienced quite the opposite, they will look after you and keep you safe and make your visit a happy one. If they don't never go back to that shoot and come to us instead!

Clay pigeon shooting takes place at a shooting ground where they create a layout of several individual stands  to shoot from. The stands have safety cages to prevent anyone from being able to shoot in an unsafe direction. A typical shoot or layout will be advertised as say 30 Birds or 50 Birds. This means there will be a total of 30 or 50 targets thrown into the air to be shot at. The targets are known as clays when they are being handled but are referred to as birds when they are thrown though the air. So you would hear " Can we have some more clays on stand 5" but " That bird didn't break". When you pay your fee for your shooting you buy a round and get a card on which to mark your scores. If you succeed in hitting a bird it is marked  with a "K" for killed or a "0" for a loss if you miss it.

All guns are carried around the ground unloaded and open, sometimes called broken (as in broken open). Only load and close a gun when you are ready to shoot and are inside a safety cage on a stand. If you prefer to keep your gun in a case when you are nor shooting then remember to take it half way out of it's case before you open it, only then remove it fully from the case. When you return it to the case put the barrels in the case first and only when it is half way in close the gun. It will make a lot of people nervous if you close a gun before you start wriggling it into a gun slip!

When you get to a stand there will be instructions for what targets to expect. You can get clays thrown as singles and as pairs. You can get a pair thrown in the air together at the same time or they may be thrown one after the other. If the second bird follows the first as soon as possible it is called a trailing or following pair. If the second bird is only launched after the shooter fires at the first bird the pair are known as on report, the sound of gunshots being a report. So expect to see instructions like "3 Pairs on report" or "4 Singles". You don't need to remember all these as your fellow shooters will explain everything as you go along. When you first arrive at a stand you can ask to "see a pair" which allows you to stand in the cage and watch a pair without shooting at them to get a feel for the shot you are about to take.

When you are ready to shoot a bird you call "Pull". Call loud and clear. If there are two stands very close together or one trap on the left of you and one to your right, you can call "Pull" and then "Mark". You may also see call instructions like "Teal", "Rabbit" or "Trap" if the stand you are on has been set up to simulate some other kind of target. If all else fails just shout "Pull" Loud and clear.

Sometimes a clay doesn't get thrown cleanly into the air or may even break! Someone will shout " No bird" and you shouldn't shoot at it, let it go. You will get another chance to shoot a good bird, called pair again, without spoiling your score card. The clays are actually stacked in a machine called a trap which operates electrically. Don't approach a trap as a new shooter, leave all that to your hosts. Sometimes you will see a manual trap operated by a trapper. Please be patient with trappers and don't try to rush them as they have to operate the traps safely and that takes time.

What exactly are "clays"? Your target is a disc of brittle black material that is tough enough to go through the trap without breaking but brittle enough to shatter when hit by more than a few little lead pellets. Standard size clays are 110 mm in diameter and about 20 mm high and 3-4 mm thick, a bit like a brittle frizz-bee! They can also be a bit smaller, 90mm for a so called midi, and just 65mm for the truly evil minis!  You can also get battues which are thin hard almost flat disc like clays that are fast and hard to hit and hard to break, avoid them like the plague! Clays can be thrown from traps in front of you, behind you. from either side, going up high in the air or skimming the ground. Any stand may have combinations of these targets with a mixture of sizes of clays...get the picture?  Oodles and oodles of combinations of targets to keep you thinking and enjoying your sport.

Different Shooting Disciplines

English Skeet

The skeet layout consists of two towers from which targets are fired - a high tower and a low tower. Between the towers seven firing positions are placed, arranged in a semi-circle. A typical skeet round would be 25 targets.

Typical English Skeet Shooting Layout has 7 stands set in a semi-circle and you work from 1 to 7 in a squad shooting in turn. The birds are very regimented and fly the same angle and distance each time and pass through an imaginary hoop 90 cm across and 4.5m off the ground in the centre of the arc in front of the shooters. This makes for good practice at swinging your gun and shooting leading and driven birds at various angles. In practice, at a high level, it is won by the only guy who doesn't loose concentration and miss a bird!

There is a specific order in which the targets must be shot:

 Firing Position  First Clay Second Clay

 Simultaneous Pair

 Stand 1 H H L
 Stand 2  H L H L
 Stand 3  H L  
 Stand 4 H L Nominate H L or L H
 Stand 5 L H  
 Stand 6  L L H
 Stand 7  H L H

H= High Tower - L=Low Tower

After the second clay is shot the shooter must reload ready for the simultaneous pair where necessary. In the simultaneous pair the targets must be shot in the order given, except for at stand 4, where the shooter must inform the referee which will be shot first. The shooter can call for the target with the gun mounted or partially out of their shoulder.

You may have noticed that there are only 24 targets listed above. To make up the 25th the shooter repeats the first target missed, or the final single if the shooter is on for a perfect score. The score is the number of targets broken.

If you haven't shot skeet before tell the scorer and they should remind you on every stand just what is expected of you and help you out. If they don't go somewhere else!

Compak Sporting

Compak Sporting is a fun idea that allows all the usual targets from English and International sporting to be combined into a competition that can be shot in a small area. Set on a Skeet range, four firing points are available, along with four extra traps. These traps can be differing types of target for example Rabbit or Springing teal these are added to a combination of Horizontal Skeet Targets.

Shooters change firing points every sequence of targets throughout the 25 that makes up a round. Single/Double targets are fired when the shooter calls with their gun out of their shoulder.

Associated Sites

Join the CPSA