Sporting Clays is one of the fastest growing shooting sports in the world. It has the excitement of hunting with the advantage of reliable targets. Sporting Clays courses are set in natural settings to simulate the hunting of grouse, ducks, pheasants, quail, woodcock and even rabbits. Courses are designed to take advantage of the lay of the land.
The advantage of shooting at targets from unspecified angles and presentations has long been recognized as a better way to prepare for hunting than sports that present targets from known locations at the same angles and speeds.
Sporting Clays requires starting from a "low gun" position. The butt of the gun has to be below the shoulder while waiting for the release of the targets. That is closer to a hunting position than having the gun mounted in preparation for the target.
Targets are released singly or in pairs, with "true pairs", "report pairs" and "following pairs. True pairs are two targets launched at the same time. Report pairs are two targets where the second target is launched at the sound of the gun firing at the first target. Following pairs are where the second target is launched at the officials discretion after the first target. Sporting clays uses four different sized targets. The Standard 108mm target, midi targets that are 90mm, and mini targets that are 60mm. There is also a rabbit target with a reinforced edge.
Most Sporting Clays courses have 10 to 15 stations. People can go through the stations as singles, but groups are more common. Targets are often presented once so that people will know where the targets are coming from and can plan their shot. About six to ten targets are presented at each station. One course of shooting is usually 100 targets, but 50 target courses are also common. Shooters are required to wear ear and eye protection.
Any shotgun that can fire two shots is usable for Sporting Clays. Over/under shotguns and semi-autos are the favorites, but people can do well with pumps. Shotguns that have two barrels offer an instant choice of chokes. It is easy to retain your hulls from double barrel guns. Autoloaders can soften recoil. Most shooters use 12 or 20 gauge guns, but smaller gauges are acceptable. 12 gauge shells are limited to 1 1/8 ounce loads, 20 guage to 7/8 ounce loads. The most common shot sizes are 7 1/2 and 8 shot. Larger shot sizes are often forbidden, to prevent overshooting of shot fall zones. Fiocchi 7.5 Sporting Dynamics loads are a popular choice.
If you are looking for a way to sharpen your shooting skills for the field, to have a good time shooting without hunting, or to compete, Sporting Clays may be the answer.