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Any tips on shooting clay pigeons?


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I'm going to go shooting soon and have always had problems hitting clay pigeons on the fly. I use a Benelli M4, which I know is not great for shooting clays, but it's the only shotgun I've got. It has ghost ring sights.

 

I'd like some tips on how to stop missing so much. I currently only have a plastic hand thrower to chuck the clays. Would it be a huge benefit to buy a mechanical thrower?

 

Any beginner tips would be appreciated.

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Always keep your barrel moving and follow through. Don't stop your barrel moving once you've pulled the trigger.

 

Aim with the end of your barrel and keep your eye on the target. If you have issues, try shutting one eye to remove any dominant eye issues.

 

My mate spent a while with a coach and was advised to shut his non-dominant left eye when he aimed and it has improved his clay and bird scores.

 

Good luck, practice makes perfect :)

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Always keep your barrel moving and follow through. Don't stop your barrel moving once you've pulled the trigger.

 

Aim with the end of your barrel and keep your eye on the target. If you have issues, try shutting one eye to remove any dominant eye issues.

 

My mate spent a while with a coach and was advised to shut his non-dominant left eye when he aimed and it has improved his clay and bird scores.

 

Good luck, practice makes perfect :)

I agree with tasum’s advice. You must swing through the target; never stop your gun (always swinging through the target after pulling the trigger). I try to have my belt buckle stay in sync with my barrel swing. Keep your weight forward (i.e., over your forward foot), and rotate at your waist.

 

 

tasum also states: “Aim with the end of your barrel and keep your eye on the target.”

 

That is precisely what you should do when shooting moving clays or live birds. You look at the target and track this with direct vision, but never look directly down the barrel. This concept is not easily explained, but basically if you look at the front sight of your shotgun, you will stop or slow your swing. You must always look at the target, and point your barrel at the target you are looking at. You will figure this out after shooting a few targets.

 

Please let us know how you do on your first rounds.

 

--Spike

Edited by Spike100
corrected grammar
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I agree with tasum’s advice. You must swing through the target; never stop your gun (always swinging through the target after pulling the trigger). I try to have my belt buckle stay in sync with my barrel swing. Keep your weight forward (i.e., over your forward foot), and rotate at your waist.

 

 

tasum also states: “Aim with the end of your barrel and keep your eye on the target.”

 

That is precisely what you should do when shooting moving clays or live birds. You look at the target and track this with direct vision, but never look directly down the barrel. This concept is not easily explained, but basically if you look at the front sight of your shotgun, you will stop or slow your swing. You must always look at the target, and point your barrel at the target you are looking at. You will figure this out after shooting a few targets.

 

Please let us know how you do on your first rounds.

 

--Spike

 

Well done Spike, made my post make a bit more sense. Cheers :)

 

Godd luck with your clays BL.

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I might also add to not treat the trigger like a precision rifle/pistol trigger! I had so many years in target shooting where I would S_L_O_W_L_Y squeeze the trigger. Do NOT do this when shooting trap/skeep/Sport Clay!!!!

 

As horrible as it sounds, slap the trigger, AS you follow through. The follow-through swing has been explained well, so i won't bother confusing you there.

 

Now here, is just *MY* way of coming up to the birds/clays. I call "pull", clay released, I chase the path of the clay with end of my barrel as described in above posts, I chase, then juuuuuuuust as my muzzle is where the clay WILL be, I squeeze the trigger and follow-through, and hopefully have a rewarding *POOF* of clay dust mid-air.

 

I know your pain, all too well!! First couple years I went out, and I'd be lucky to hit 10 of 25 clays!!

 

As you stated, the M4 isn't meant for this, but it CAN be done. I've shot a round of skeet with my M4 just for grins at my local club. People mock me, but then when I hit 17-19 of them, they don't laugh at me as much. Then again, it's not 25/25 either! :(

 

Go with a friend too to see if they can tell you if you're behind the clay, ahead, not following-through, etc. Best of luck!!!

 

2-wheel

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With wing shooting, it is more of a pointing skill rather than aiming your shotgun. Similar to the difference between shooting archery instinctively and with a compound bow using pin type sights (if that helps). The sights on your M4 will make that harder.

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I had a great time shooting the clays on Saturday. There was a group of 5 of us shooting different shotguns. Mine was the only semi-auto, the rest were pumps and one break open single barrel shotgun for the kid with a smaller caliber. We had one throw the clay with the thrower while we took turns trying to hit it.

 

At first I stunk, then I tried one of the pump shotguns (first time ever with a pump shotgun for me) with a bead at the front. I hit a few with it and went back to my M4. I was able to keep the sight picture while swinging the shotgun and kept both eyes open to find the target and the clays began to break. I gained some confidence and I began to break more targets than I thought was possible for me. Before I would get 1 in about 10. Saturday after I got my rhythm down, I was able to hit about 7 in 10. I've got a feeling that I could make it more with some practice.

 

Thanks for all the great advice from you guys. With your help it was finally able to "click" for me.

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  • 1 year later...
if you're really struggling pay for a couple of lessons at your club, absolutely worth the money. much easier for a good teacher to see what you may be doing wrong

 

Sound advice - if you're making mistakes, and they go uncorrected, you'll just keep on making them and get pissed-off.

 

An old adage recounts: "If you carry on doing what you're doing, you're gonna carry on getting what you're getting".

 

Good luck.

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  • 7 years later...
On 3/17/2011 at 1:03 AM, Broken Legend said:

I'm going to go shooting soon and have always had problems hitting clay pigeons on the fly. I use a Benelli M4, which I know is not great for shooting clays, but it's the only shotgun I've got. It has ghost ring sights.

 

I'd like some tips on how to stop missing so much. I currently only have a plastic hand thrower to chuck the clays. Would it be a huge benefit to buy a mechanical clay thrower?

 

Any beginner tips would be appreciated.

I know I will always be the sport in the beginning, so I did not hesitate to get a mechanical throwers. My wife doesn't usually play with me, so he becomes my friend. Hahaha. I recommend the cheap Trius, which can be assembled and used by even novices, will not easily break down, and will not damage too much clay (it depends on you).

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I prefer to shoot with both eyes open and on the target and I generally hit 39 to 42 out 50. Doesnt seem to matter what gun I use I have a perf shop super, an 870 police with 18" barrel and rifle sights or the m4 with the 8" salvo on it.

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A lot of good advice and techniques here.  Figured I'd throw out a couple myself.

- Shooting skeet is usually totally different than having a friend sling clays.  On a skeet range, the clay will rarely be any further away than 25 yards; depending on which station you are shooting from, they could be much closer.  Depending on where the thrower is standing, hand slinging clays is more like shooting trap where the clays don't have as much cross tracking rate but do fly away from the shooter pretty quickly.  So, a modified choke maybe preferred based on the average distance from clay to shooter.

- I like to stand with my supporting foot (left) slightly forward with my weight slightly forward.  Feet a little more than shoulder width apart; knees slightly bent and slight bend forward at the waist.  Think of it as a fighting stance.  I'll flex my knees slightly (just a little bounce) just prior to the pull so I don't tighten-up.

- The techniques I see above about keeping both eyes open and tracking through the clay and pulling the trigger when you intuitively think it's right is what I try to do.  Keeping the barrel swinging is important but difficult.  Most of us transition from swinging the gun to pulling the trigger without keeping the barrel swinging.  It's like we can only do one thing at a time!  Have your buddies critique you.

- I am right handed but left eye dominant.  What I try to do is keep both eyes wide open so I can acquire the clay as soon as possible and start swinging my barrel to bear.  When my barrel approaches the clay I squeeze my dominant left eye down to a bit of a squint so my right eye is looking straight down the barrel.  It seems to work for me and also for a buddy of mine with the same condition. 

- I usually shoot clays with an O/U 12 gauge with vent rib and front bead sight.  On the other hand, the M4 has the ghost ring housing and sight that to me, just clutters my view as I swing into the clay.  I wonder if that's why you started to do well when you shot your buddy's pump shotgun -- less clutter.  You were able to learn the technique and carry it forward with your M4 -- awesome.

-  I would recommend googling-up some clay shooting websites to learn how the pros do it.  In fact I need to do the same to re-calibrate myself!  I would say breaking clays or wing shooting is one of those sports where the old adage, "Find what works for you and stick with it," does NOT really apply.  You may adopt subtle changes based on vision, body type, aches and pains or gun type, but the overall techniques explained by those members here do not really differ from one another.

- I found that I was pretty decent while out shooting clays with my buds but never really "good" because I was not doing it right.  Only after doing some reading and adopting and training to the proper techniques did I start to hit around 20 of 25 (or better.., or worse!).  I did go 25/25 once in my life!

Got'a love what L/S/B said:  "Sound advice - if you're making mistakes, and they go uncorrected, you'll just keep on making them and get pissed-off."

An old adage recounts: "If you carry on doing what you're doing, you're gonna carry on getting what you're getting".

Nothing better than smoking a clay and having it turn into a flak-burst!

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I definitely agree that you have to ignore the sights of the m4. If you try to use them while shooting you probably wont do very well. I do use them to confirm that when I bring them its coming up and in line. This is prior to actually thrownig the clays. Ive only shot sporting clays so not sure about the other disciplines.

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So, by NO means am I an “expert” sporting clays shooter (I dust 20 or more of 25 clays in trap, 25/25 in wobble, maybe 18/25 in 5 stand), but I do enjoy the heck out of it. GREAT way to learn your gun. I regularly use my M4 (tactical/straight stock and the standard/modified Benelli black choke tube) for sporting clays (which raises some eyebrows at the range). I shoot Winchester “AA” Super Sport 2 3/4” 3 1/4 Dram, 7 1/2 Shot 1300 FPS shells, which I’ve found to be my best “go to” round when shooting my Browning Citori White Satin Hunter (it’s a “fast” round which produces results). It works equally as well in the M4. Never a jam or failure, the gun always cycles it. 

Thing about sporting clays is “reaction time.” In my experience, if you don’t pull the trigger in 1 sec or less, you have less than a 50% chance at hitting the clay. I usually “point and shoot,” using the “relative position” of the barrel end alligned with the clay, my arm and shoulder. I’m right handed, so I have about a 10 to 20 degree inward (left) rotation when shooting, swiveling on my hips. I watch other shooters try to “aim” on clays, sometimes not engaging until 3 sec. Low probability of dusting, based on distance. For doubles, I do “aim” on the second shot and for trap and wobble, if the clay is in the ghost ring on the M4, it’s dust. 

Here’s a video of my nephew on the M4 (first time) shooting wobble (high stand). He learned on my Browning, which the other shooter, also my nephew, is using:

Benelli M4 Range Day

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13 hours ago, shootingsight said:

I have not shot bird shot with the M4, but I presume if I go out and shoot clays, it will cycle OK?

I'm gonna lose my Man Card by admitting this, but I shoot mostly bird shot while busting clays or during 3-Gun with my M4.  Cheap WallyMart Winchester or Federal 1 1/8 oz. No. 8 shot, 3 dram at 1200 FPS.  Out of several thousand rounds, I can only remember one failure to cycle during a run.  I'm not sure (or remember) the extent of the failure -- failure to eject or feed or both, because I just did a quick manual cycle of the bolt and got back to business.  Also don't remember if I ejected a live or spent round when I cycled. 

So, bottom line I'd say you won't have any appreciable problems with cheap target loads.

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