How To Shoot Clay Pigeons: A Beginner’s Guide

shoot clay pigeons, close up of man holding shotgun

If you enjoy sports that challenge your aim and precision, clay pigeon shooting may be an activity worth trying out.

In this challenging activity, you use a shotgun to shoot at flying disc-like targets known as clay pigeons.

Over the years, clay pigeon shooting has evolved into a fun activity that can be enjoyed by all age groups at many outdoor facilities. However, learning to shoot clay targets consistently takes practice and patience. There is always something you can do to improve and refine your shooting technique

At Avalanche Adventure, we promise you a clay pigeon shooting experience you will never forget, all under the careful watch and guidance of our trained instructors. 

That’s why, we’ve worked with our staff to curate the ultimate guide on how to shoot clay pigeons and always hit your target.

Let’s begin!

Understanding The Basics

to shoot clay targets, person reloading gun

When learning to shoot clay pigeons, you will find that there are various forms of clay pigeon shooting, known as disciplines. These disciplines are largely divided into three categories – skeet, trap and sporting.

This sport combines precision, strategy and finesse all in one tactical and challenging activity. Shooting clay pigeons is a combination of skill and timing and it is split-second decisions that make or break each shot. 

How To Shoot Clay Pigeons: A Step-By-Step Guide

how to shoot clay pigeons by yourself, man aiming shotgun

Step 1 – Identify Your Dominant Eye

One of the first steps when aiming any weapon is to determine which eye is your dominant eye. Many often disregard this step in favour of simply taking aim and firing. However, trying to shoot clay pigeons with your non-dominant eye is more often than not a recipe for failure. 

To help you out, here’s how you can identify your dominant eye. Stretch out your arms in front of your body and make a small triangle with your index fingers and thumbs. Next, look through this triangle and centre a small object within the triangle.  

Now, close each eye and look at how the image changes. Your dominant eye is the one that allows you to keep the object in view. This is the eye that you have to keep open when taking aim at a clay pigeon.

Many often assume that they are right-eye dominant solely because they are right-handed or left-eye dominant if they’re left-handed. However, the reality may be quite different.

Step 2 – Establish Your Stance and Gun Position

Shooting clay pigeons is an activity that combines focus with dynamic movement. From stance to gun position, every detail plays a big role in your shot.

Ideally, keep your feet shoulder-width apart with your left foot (if you’re a right-handed shooter) pointed towards where the clay pigeon will fly. Your right foot also has to be pointed just short of 90 degrees from your left foot. 

As you take up your stance, make sure that you’re comfortable. Stand in a manner that allows you free movement of your upper body without moving your feet. 

Next, press the butt of your shotgun against your shoulder, with your cheek close to the weapon to line up your eye with your target. You want to maintain the same stance and position every time you shoot. The more solid and confident you are with your stance and gun position, the more accurate and consistent your shots will be. 

Step 3 – Aim and Shoot

Prior to the clay pigeon taking flight, release the safety on your gun. When you’re ready, say “pull” so the designated person knows to press the button to initiate the clay. Once your target is in the air, swing the barrel of your shotgun in an arc to follow your target through the sky.

The clay pigeon target will be travelling fast, so you will need to move quickly to accurately follow it with your body and your eyes. When you’re ready to shoot, aim a little ahead of your target. As the target is moving so fast, you will have to anticipate its movement so you don’t shoot behind it. That’s why you want to shoot where the clay will be, rather than where it was.

After you fire your shot, follow through with the swing of your gun. By doing so, you can keep your motion consistent and smooth. 

Don’t forget to reset the safety to prevent any accidental shots.

Practical Tips On Shooting Clay Pigeons For Beginners

tips on shooting clay pigeons beginners, Woman holding shotgun and taking aim

1) Never Lift Your Head from the Shotgun

Many beginners raise their heads from the shotgun before the shot starts. However, this can result in missing the target 99% of the time. 

If you want to shoot clay pigeons and hit targets consistently, position your head and align your sight with that of the shotgun.

Lifting your head is almost like trying to hit a bullseye while blindfolded, it’s nearly impossible! By keeping your head lowered and steady, you can accurately track the path of the flying clay pigeon with focus. Following this method, you can transform your hesitant shots into confident hits. 

2) Understand and Adjust for Environmental Factors

Nature is a force to be reckoned with. The slightest change in environmental conditions, like wind or lighting, can significantly affect your shooting. 

When you’re in position, analyse the wind in your surroundings and evaluate how it may affect the flight path of your clay pigeon targets. Then, adjust your aim accordingly to compensate for the wind conditions. Similarly, changes in lighting can affect the visibility of your targets. 

By learning to adapt to different environments, you can maintain shooting accuracy under different conditions.

3) Practise, Practise and Practise Some More!

In any sport, the amount of practice and time you put into honing your skills makes a big difference. 

Each time you step onto the shooting range is an opportunity to hone your reflexes and refine your technique. From mastering different angles to better anticipating your target’s flight path, each round will improve your skillset and boost your confidence. 

With practice, you will be able to smash every clay pigeon target and become an expert marksman in no time at all!

Shoot Your Best Shot with Avalanche Adventure

Clay pigeon shooting is a phenomenal sport and a great outdoor activity for individuals, small and large groups. With our helpful tips and advice, you are now well-equipped to dominate any clay pigeon shooting activity. 

At Avalanche Adventure, we bring you the ultimate collection of fun-filled adventure sports activities that are engaging, challenging and completely safe. From quad biking to off-road racing and riding hovercrafts, we’ve got it all!

Furthermore, our professional instructors are there to guide you and ensure your well-being throughout every session. We conduct regular equipment checks to maintain a quality experience for all our guests and ensure minimal risks with maximum fun!

We also offer custom adventure packages, along with special booking vouchers to further enhance your experience. 

Book your slots or call us on 01858 880613 to learn more about our services.

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