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If you're new to the shooting world and want to get into clay pigeon shooting, we've put together three useful steps to ensuring you're not just shooting into the abyss.
Start off by having a few lessons. This way you wont get into bad habits early on. The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) will be able to advise you on instructors and shooting grounds near you. Most shooting grounds will let you borrow a gun so won’t need your own or a shotgun licence just yet, make sure you ring up in advance and check.
In a clay pigeon shooting competition you get to see each clay once. So analysing the clay is fundamental from the off. Once we've seen the clay we have to analyse it’s path and put together your game plan on where you want to shoot it. Top tip - you want to hit the clay at its highest point.
Kill zone, pick up points and visual point
Kill zone, pick up points and visual points are the 3 points you want to take note of in your head when analysing the clay.
1. Visual point - where the clay first come into your line of sight
2. Pick up point - where you start to follow the clay
3. Kill zone - when you pull the trigger
You're at the stand. Take a moment to take in your surroundings. When you're ready, shout 'pull' to release the clay and see the path it takes. Make a note of how far it travels.
During the time you see the clay you need to pick your three points. Kill zone, pick up point and your visual point. You can work backwards starting with number 3. The Kill zone and the pick up points are decided by: how the clay is presented, how fast it's travelling or how quickly you can ‘visually’ pick up the clay in flight. For beginners, mount the gun before you shout pull as this will allow maximum time to prepare to shoot the clay.
3. Kill zone - Remember this is the highest point the clay reaches before it starts to come down. Pick a point in the background, preferably a static object, not a cloud. This will be your kill zone where you want to pull ahead of the clay before you pull the trigger.
2.Pick up points - This is where you pick the clay up and start to follow the clay (maintain lead) until it meets the killzone where you pull ahead slightly before pulling the trigger. Again make a visual note of where this point will be.
1.Visual point - This is where the clay comes from and where it first comes into your sight. This is important because this will determine the course it's going to take.
You've now analysed the clay and determined your three points of the clays path and come up with a plan of action on how to shoot the clay.
If you're right-handed then your weight should be on the front left foot with your toes pointing towards the intended Kill Zone. If you shoot with your left hand, then it's the same principle but the other way around.
This is really important to master before shouting ‘Pull’ as it'll affect your shooting technique. If the position is wrong then you won't be able to twist your body sufficiently to complete the swing when aiming for certain targets.
Three, Two, One
Now time to put your 3,2,1 objectives into practice:
This is really important. To break a target you must pull the trigger when the muzzle is pointing ahead of the target to make sure the clay runs into the line of shot. So how much forward allowance is needed? This comes down to practice and experience.
After shooting a number of times, you'll get a feel for this and what works and what doesn’t. This can also depend on the weather. If you shoot directly at the clay then delay the time of which you see the target and pull the trigger, this will make you always shoot behind the target.
By following this step by step guide it should help you to hit your first target. Don’t be worried, watch the clay a few times.