It all depends on your level as a shooter and your natural talent. If you have never shot clay pigeon before, I recommend that you first go to the nearest shooting range to try it out. There might be an instructor and maybe they could even lend you a shotgun for your first attempt.
With an instructor there, you won’t get discouraged if there are lots of “zeroes”; instead you will receive useful advice, get an understanding and have fun getting good results, with the goal of 25 out of 25. And, if you have talent, the instructor will recognise it immediately.
The most important
Eyes open! This advice is always valid, especially in clay pigeon shooting. It means both eyes open: the dominant eye always follows the target, and is aligned with the rib. The other eye visualises the target, the trajectory and gives a three-dimensional view. Educate yourself or re-educate yourself to this more complete vision!
The main specialties
The sport of clay pigeon shooting includes different specialties. The main ones are Olympic trap and Skeet, Sporting and Compak.
The targets are launched at high speed (100-120 km/h), from a trench 15 meters in front of the shooter, who always sees the target move away and has two cartridges available to hit it.
The launching stations consist of two houses that hold devices known as ‘traps’ that launch the targets, one at each corner of a semi-circle which, due to the configuration, resembles the lower half of a clock-face. The high house called “Pull” is at “9 o’clock”, the low house called “Mark” at “3 o’clock” and there are shooting positions from 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, plus a platform at the point of origin of the ‘hands’. Shooting is done both in single clays and in double throws, with one shot each time to each target.
In Trap, the shooter does not know the trajectory of the clay (left, right or central) and starts with the shotgun on the shoulder. In Skeet, meanwhile, the shooter knows the trajectories (which are always the same), but not the exit time, in relation to the call (0-3 seconds). The shooter waits for the clays to come out with the shotgun at his hip.
Sporting or Compak Sporting
They are hunting simulation specialties, characterised by the variety of clays thrown single or in pairs, simultaneously or on delay, which simulate the flight or the race of traditional prey of the hunter and can also have different sizes and colours.
Test several guns first
If you have the opportunity to try a rented shotgun or one made available by the shooting club, it will help you in choosing the specialty and decide what you want to buy. If necessary, and it almost always is necessary, get help with the adjustable stock so that it fits your size and body shape. Try and retry the bracing, try the blank swing, shoot from a standstill and try to direct the shot on the plate always at the same point.
And, then, via the platform following the directions of the instructor. If at some point you have to train alone, you should definitely use the Winchester AA Tracker cartridge: the distinctive black or orange wad (depending on the visibility conditions) is designed to follow the trajectory of the shot, so it allows you to see where the shot goes and to correct mistakes without fail.
A double-barrelled over and under shotgun is undoubtedly the most suitable for clay pigeon shooting. It is always stable and balanced, with a straight stock and two standard shots.
For Olympic Trap and Olympic Skeet
For the different specialties there are very different characteristics in terms of adjustable stock, barrel length and choke, and total weight. Shotguns with barrels 740-760-810 mm long and tighter chokes for Trap, since the target is fired at no less than 32 -35 meters away, starting with shotgun pre-mounted. Shotguns with 670-710 mm long barrels and minimal or absent chokes for Skeet, since the clay is shot between 8 and 20 meters.
For Compak Sporting and Sporting
The shotgun is more similar to the hunting one, but there are different schools of thought on the subject.
The “champion” for Trap is the Browning B725 Pro model, available in various versions with barrels of 760 and 810 mm, 8 interchangeable chokes, stock and also adjustable high rib. It offers maximum stability and customisation even in balancing. The same B725 is also available in the Sporter version, with three barrel lengths and 5 interchangeable chokes.
Two Browning shotguns world FITASC champions
Two over-and-under shotguns from Browning are highly regarded for Compak and Sporting: the B725 Sporter Black Edition (with Amy Easeman) and Ultra XS Pro Adjustable (with Sam Green) won the Fitasc 2019 world championship, for Compak and Sporting respectively. There are no better choices…
And you, what is your favorite weapon for ball-trap and your favorite discipline ?