OK - how do you get good at shooting clays?

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Dualsport225, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    I started this at a "somewhat advanced age", and I want to actually get good at it. With my launcher in a field, I'm good for maybe 2/3 when I'm on.

    The gun seems to fit, they're dust when I do hit, but I'm missing too often.

    My barrel has a mid-bead. How should the 2 beads be oriented?

    I know I haven't formed a concise question, but any pointers?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Cwlongshot

    Cwlongshot Supporter Supporter

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    Same as anything...

    Practice! Join a club join the trap league! Shoot sporting clays. Find out if the club has a shotgun instructor.

    NRA can help they have shotgun instructors and can provide a list in your area.

    Good luck

    CW
     
  3. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    Thanks, man. It's always fun to make a little noise, but I get frustrated easily. Then I waste time (and ammo) playing with timing, one eye / two eyes, hide it with the muzzle vs. see it, point of focus, etc...

    I guess I'll just have to get out more often and play the game. Could certainly be worse!
     
  4. Cwlongshot

    Cwlongshot Supporter Supporter

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    Best to stop and regroup when ya start ta missin... No need to practice MISTAKES! Easier to learn proper than it is to relearn poor practices.

    CW
     
  5. Steinmetz

    Steinmetz Tracker

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    What is the choke you are running?
     
  6. WY_Not

    WY_Not Supporter Supporter

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    When you start missing or can't make it to the range or have shot the budget... dry fire.

    Practice shouldering the shotgun till it becomes second nature. Smooth, no snags, consistent placement on the shoulder, consistent cheek weld, consistent sight picture, etc.

    If your firearm can handle it, practice trigger control. Squeeeeeeze the trigger. Depending on what you are shooting, release the trigger till it resets and no more.
     
  7. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    It's a 12 ga. Wingmaster with a modified choke. I read somewhere the 2 beads are supposed to form a figure 8 with the gun mounted, so I made a leather cuff to accomplish the cheek height.

    I know I should find a board to shoot at to see where the pattern's going, but I don't have anywhere convenient to do that.

    Does anyone know who makes colored shot, so maybe I can see where I'm missing? I know I saw them somewhere.

    The fun continues.
     
  8. cstrickland

    cstrickland Scout

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    Each clays discipline ( trap, skeet, sporting clays, 5 stand ) has a slightly different approach so I would ask two things

    1- which discipline do you want to shoot- answering this allows people to tailor their answer to what you want to shoot
    2- what is good ?? because this is subjective. As an example in skeet some think 18-20 of 25 is good, where as I know a lot people that if its anything less than 24 of 25 they think they suck ! similar for the other disciplines.

    Sounds like you have some basics as you are making hits. Your filed throwing unit will be different than an actual course. Not really knowing anything else right off I would personally suggest you move away from the modified and start using a skeet choke. It will allow for a slightly wider pattern and will be a little more forgiving. From there a good instructor should be able to verify your fit, and get you started with some good training habits. Last thing would be select your choke and start shooting a pattern board, this will tell you if your gun likes or dislikes the ammo you are using. It will also show you if you have gaps in your spread.
     
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  9. Plainsman

    Plainsman Scout

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    Follow cstricklands advice as he pointed out everything I would have said!
    (BTW, I was a HS Trap Team head coach for three years.)
     
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  10. bluecow

    bluecow Scout

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    1st remember what we all forget NEW GEAR WILL NOT MAKE YOU BETTER
    2nd shoot a lot and then keep at it
     
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  11. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    All sounds like good advice. I guess I never defined "good" even in my own mind. I guess I want to be upset when I miss instead of being happy when I hit. Make sense?

    We do have a real trap range nearby, and I've been there a few times. As "well" as I may do with my little launcher, I've never hit a darn thing at the real range. I don't know if it's the timing, distance, pressure, or velocity, but it doesn't work for me.

    The ammo I'm using is all over the map. Whatever field loads are least expensive.

    "HS Trap Team" would have been a wonderful thing. I bought this thing about 5 years ago in my late 40s. I'd have loved to start in my teens or earlier!
     
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  12. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    I've definitely found myself looking at new gear, but I've resisted. I really like this 870 and what I've done to it. I'm determined to be able to hit with the silly thing.
     
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  13. cstrickland

    cstrickland Scout

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    good to hear this as a new expensive toy will not make you better until you can understand why you are missing. Once you start hitting consistently then you can take advantage of the finer features of a more expensive gun. I will say your wingmaster if in good mechanical condition is good for a minimum of 20+ of 25 birds without any trouble ( actually even more)

    At this point as suggested I would pattern your ammo and choose the one or two brands that work best ( your local range if shooting skeet or trap should have a patterning area you can use) , and I would also say switch to a skeet choke while doing so. Not sure where you are location wise, but if you can find an instructor and have them watch you then they can point you in the right directions.
     
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  14. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    The Beretta was a really pretty weapon, though! Not worth 4 digits to me at the moment. I figure I can "earn" a dedicated clay gun if I get to a point where I feel the mighty 870 is holding me back.

    That worked with my mountain bike progression, but I don't really see being "better" than a good shotgun.

    I'm up in North Jersey, but there is a sporting clays place a little East of here in PA. They might have a coach. I'm thinking that's at least a good way to have fun for an afternoon.
     
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  15. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    The biggest mistake people make is treating a shotgun like it’s a rifle. You cannot wait on that perfectly aimed shot you need to learn to point (sometimes to an area in front of a hard crossing clay) and trust the pattern. You also need to keep the gun moving, stopping your swing is a very common error, and you need to keep following through after you release the shot. As far as beads go, truth be told I’m not even sure I have one two or any on my target shotgun, I’d have to go look, my mount is consistent and I barely notice the rib anymore.
     
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  16. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    This for sure. Even if you don't take instruction, just shooting with experienced folks will help and they'll more than likely be willing to point out how you can improve. The firearms fraternity is among the friendliest and most open I know of. Everyone wants to see everyone else do better.
     
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  17. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
     
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  18. VtBlackDog

    VtBlackDog Guide Bushclass I

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    .....to shoot clays, shoot clays!
     
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  19. VtBlackDog

    VtBlackDog Guide Bushclass I

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    Do they have indoor sporting clays? That would be COOL!
     
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  20. chickasaw_hunter

    chickasaw_hunter Scout

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    I 0nly wish I had a comment for this thread, but sadly I do not.
     
  21. Aspencreek

    Aspencreek Tracker

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    My advice for getting better at shotgunning is to make sure you aren't treating it like a rifle (as mentioned above.) I grew up shooting rifles and tried for the longest time to treat a shotgun like a rifle by closing my left eye, carefully lining up the beads on the target, and really just aiming too much. My buddy is a fantastic shotgun shooter and I asked him one day a while back after he got another long range crossing duck where he was putting the bead for the lead on the ducks. He goes "I don't know, I never see the bead." Did some reading and found that most great shotgunners are the same, they don't see the bead. So the way to shoot shotguns is to keep both eyes open, and concentrate all your vision on the target while smoothly bringing the gun up and pointing it while settling it into your shoulder. Soon as it is there squeeze off the trigger. When practicing this technique I went so far as to force myself to try to pick out dimples on the clay targets or a single feather on a bird to concentrate on so I wouldn't switch back to finding the bead. Worked wonders and I started smoking targets.

    Other thing to remember is to not think about mechanics when shooting. Kind of like if you were to just pick up a rock and toss it at something you'd just instinctively hurl it and wouldn't sit there trying to line up all careful and think about how to hold the rock and how far back to take your arm and when exactly to release, etc. Better to let your subconscious take over and just let it do it's thing. Not sure if you've ever tried to think about how to run up stairs or something like that, but if you do it seems that's when you stumble. So just focus on that target and your subconscious knows how to point at it.
     
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  22. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Tracker

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    Have you patterned your gun at the range you are shooting?
     
  23. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    Unfortunately, no. I haven't found anywhere good to set that up yet. I may have to just do it at the same field when nobody's looking.
     
  24. ywaltzucanrknrl

    ywaltzucanrknrl Tracker

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    What werewolf and Aspencreek said are the most common advice you will receive at clay shoots.
    So, never lift your head, consistent head position, make sure you don't have eye dominance issues, if you do, dot your glasses for the non dominant eye,
    keep swinging, follow through
    don't take time to aim, shoot instinctively, don't think about aiming,
    pattern your shotgun---as though you are shooting at clays, not taking a ton of time to aim,
    shoot soft shooting loads----lots of clays shooters develop a bad flinch-----many try to cure it with a release trigger, some cure it with better fitting shotguns and light loads. I prefer a better fit and soft shooting loads---I'm not fond of release triggers.
     
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  25. elkhunter

    elkhunter Supporter Supporter

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    What werewolf won said, keep the gun moving!
     
  26. doanehead

    doanehead Scout

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    I was an average sporting clays shot, but I found that I could hit 'em a little more consistently when I straightened my pointer finger along the forend, sorta pointing at the target. I'm sure it's not for everyone but it seemed to work for me.

    ETA: now I'm thinking about heading to a sporting clays range this weekend. I haven't shot clays in quite some time..
     
  27. Polecat

    Polecat Polecat in a Poke Supporter

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    Practice practice practice.

    Start mounted, until you get better at it. Stock fit has a lot to do with it, too. Some guns I just can't mount consistently. When you start unmounted, get your cheek on the stock first, then drop it into your shoulder.

    With a mid-bead, I like to stack the beads in a figure-8 pattern and then float the clay overtop the stack.

    I'm not too good at doubles. I like to lead-shoot rather than shoot crossing. I think it puts more lead into the target when you lead off (especially if one is shooting a .410). Which may not matter for clays, but I do think it matters for critters, so that's how I like to practice.

    I'm no expert or anything, but that's what I think.
     
  28. JoeJ

    JoeJ Supporter Supporter

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    Pretty simple really. 1st off get the shotgun fitted to you. You need to either have this done by someone qualified to do so or have them explain it to you, so you can do it. It always takes some stock work. Once the gun is fitted - pattern the gun at 40 yards - if the chock is acceptable, then let ZEN be with you.

    ZEN is you mount the gun, look at and concentrate on the bird - smash the trigger. Smashing the trigger is a timing thing, as when the gun comes up, your cheek weld is consistent, you see and concentrate on the bird, the gun moves to the bird and you smash the trigger and the bird breaks. Speed is the name of that game and there is no aiming down the barrel. Your vision will see the barrel but you sole concentration is on the bird!

    My grandson started last year - average was 21 but he did earn a 25 patch. This year he’s earned his 50 patch and has shot 100 clean in practice. At State he did 96 with a 46/50 1st round and he cleaned the 2nd round. At State you need to clean both to get into the shoot off. ZEN is your friend after you fit the gun.
     
  29. jstert

    jstert Scout

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    i enjoy hitting clays with my ruger single six the most: lay ‘em on a berm, step back 25 paces and plink away. well, works for me anyway... cheers!
     
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  30. Polecat

    Polecat Polecat in a Poke Supporter

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    I like to do that with the larger pieces, once my shoulder is sore from the shotgunning. Heh.
     
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  31. weaselrunner

    weaselrunner Scout

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    Beware if someone wants to make a bet with you on shooting clays. A truck driver I know made a bet with a manager at his terminal. The guy had been bragging about his skill popping clays. Well the guy went to the drivers place which is out in the country. The driver had rigged up a hand thrower to a surf rod. The bet was a dollar per missed clay. Well in the video he shot, the clays looked like they were moving at about Mach 3 and were out of sight in a split second. If I remember correctly, the manager hit about 4 clays out of a whole case. The driver is still waiting for the payoff.
     
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  32. doanehead

    doanehead Scout

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    I shot sporting clays with a buddy at his shooting club several years ago. One station had a high crossing bird and I had a heck of a time breaking it, even after he told me the lead was as much as a school bus. Well this older lady showed up at that stand and broke it every time she shot. I quit asking to see that bird...

    This particular station had ten or twelve different "birds" and the trappers had figured out that they could throw them all by using their forearm to hit the switches all at once. We wasted a bunch of shells and laughed our butts off there.
     
  33. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    You should also give yourself every advantage starting out. Shoot an 1-1/8th load of # 8’s, at 1150 FPS load through a modified choke. That is not a formula for taking 25 straights but it will get you hitting targets without a lot of recoil and success without pain just builds confidence for the shooter.

    Eventually you will want to start shooting bigger shot with more speed and a tighter choke; you may or may not lighten the load. Because of my history of concussions I usually shoot 7/8th ounce loads through nothing tighter than a light full choke and no faster than 1250. That is giving a lot away so I’m among the top scorers but not the top scorer at the end of the day; but I can remember my name the next day.
     
  34. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    coach ...
     
  35. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    Good morning, all!

    I got out last night and was in WAY better form. Hard focus on the clay made the difference. I got gutsy towards the end of the evening and started from what I guess would be called a "low ready" position. Gun at waist height and open (pump gun). I was absolutely dusting them from there! And it didn't beat my cheek up as badly.

    I think having to watch the bird while getting the gun closed and up made me concentrate harder.

    That and this shotgun seems to like to obscure the bird with the muzzle.

    Thanks for all the replies and have a great weekend.
     
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  36. TentMonkey

    TentMonkey Scout

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    Make sure the stock is in the pocket of your shoulder, and your cheek is on the stock. The mid bead should be directly between your eye and the front bead. Other than that, it's a matter of leading the target and follow thru as you pull the trigger.

    When I miss, it's either failing to swing the gun after the shot, or not having it on my shoulder correctly.
     
  37. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    There are only three reasons a shotgun slaps you. 1. You’re shooting off your back foot. 2. You’re lifting your face off the stock as you pull the trigger. 3. Your trying to flatten the rib.

    1. is common with first time shooters who are afraid of the shotgun, and is pretty common with experienced wing shooters when they are shooting at stationary targets either hunting squirrels or rabbits or at a pattern board for instance.

    2. Usually comes from wanting to see the bird break, or when chasing a hard breaking target usually left to right for a right handed shooter. The head needs to stay on the stock but sometimes your hands can push the gun away.

    3. Is another stationary shooters problem, a shooter starts aiming rather than pointing if they have too much time to think about the shot. Turkey hunters get walloped pretty often for this reason. It is also a sigh of a bad fitting gun or improper mount.
     
  38. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    I'm going with door number 3!

    I think by rushing myself to mount the gun and take the shot, it forced me to keep the gun moving and stopped me from taking too long to think about it.

    Previous nights out I was starting with the gun shouldered, which I think made everything too stationary and caused most of my issues. Put it this way - I was surprised to wake up to a face that didn't hurt this morning.

    I was absolutely smoking them, too, none of these clays limped away injured. Much more rewarding...
     
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  39. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    That would be my guess as well, I’ve never watched you shoot but when you asked about the middle bead alignment in an early post I was wondering how long before you asked about face slap. That question is usually from a rib flattener :)

    Where you are shooting a field shotgun the beads will appear to barely touch when you mount the gun and you will be most successful just covering the bird with the front bead (if the clay is going directly away from you).
     
  40. Dualsport225

    Dualsport225 Scout

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    Sweet!

    That's me trying to flatten the rib. I'm not looking specifically at just covering the bird with the bead, but I'm firing about as I just about can't see the bird. And the barrel's still moving up, as I tend to get on it early so it's still rising.

    Thanks for the pointers.
     
  41. Red Wing

    Red Wing Guide

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    You're firing platform is key. If that's where it should be all you have to do is point and shoot. Dont hesitate to shoot. Would rather shoot quick and miss than wait and still miss and the more time I think the the more likely I am to miss.
     
  42. Paulyseggs

    Paulyseggs Supporter Supporter

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    Ok. Would dry firing on flying songbirds, be conducive to good practice?
     
  43. Polecat

    Polecat Polecat in a Poke Supporter

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    No. You won't be getting your lead right, and therefore will teach yourself bad habits. I think you need to be seeing the clays break, to get yourself dialed in on that kinda stuff.
     
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