Clay pigeon shooting : getting ready for the hunting season


August 10, 2022


Facebook Email
Clay pigeon shooting : getting ready for the hunting season

As well as being an exciting sport in itself, clay pigeon shooting can help you develop the kind of reflexes that are essential for hunting. Before getting familiar with the sport, discover the FédéCP’s best advice on why, where and how to practice shooting.

Article written in collaboration with FedeCP 


In this article, you will learn:

Clay pigeon shooting gear

Why practice clay pigeon shooting

It’s not a coincidence that small game hunting opens a door to a whole world of hunting adventures for many people. This type of hunting is very popular amongst both novice and expert hunters for several reasons. No matter your experience level, it’s hard to deny how fun this activity can be. Combining beautiful nature walks, adrenaline-filled moments with a good meal by the end of the day? A winning trio for sure.

But before heading into the woods, you need to be able to be in control of your weapon. If it’s out of season and you haven’t shot in a while, it is highly recommended that you practice before the start of the season. Hunting shotguns remain the preferred weapons for harvesting ruffed grouse, hare or ptarmigan, amongst others. As there aren’t many ways to practice small game hunting, clay pigeon shooting is your best bet if you want to sharpen your skills and improve your shooting game.

The required equipment

Firearms and munitions

When thinking about your hunting gear, the first thing that comes to mind is probably your firearm. For small game, the most popular calibers are hunting shotguns between .410, 20 and 12. Which weapon should you use for clay pigeon shooting then? Easy. The same one you use for hunting.

Indeed, it is essential to know how to handle your hunting shotgun. That’s why you should practice clay pigeon shooting with the same weapon you will be using throughout the hunting season. If you prefer to practice clay pigeon shooting as a stand-alone activity, you can get a firearm used specifically for the sport and designed to optimise your performance. Firearms for clay pigeon shooting are usually 12 caliber, semi-automatic or break barrel models, equipped with a hunting recoil pad and a slightly longer barrel than those you normally carry with you in the woods.

It is also recommended to use different ammunition from that used for hunting. In addition to being specifically designed for practice shooting, it is also less expensive. Ammunition for clay pigeon shooting contains lead pellets size 7 ½ or smaller. This load, finer than a hunting ammunition’s load, will cover a wide area and won’t let clay pigeons get away.

Clay pigeons

In addition to your hunting shotgun, there are other essential accessories for clay pigeon shooting. First, the clay pigeons (obviously). These orange discs break on impact when hit by lead pellets, so you’ll know straight away if you’ve hit your target, whether you’re shooting at close range or from far away. They are also biodegradable and nontoxic, which makes them perfect for training.

How to practice clay pigeon shooting by yourself

If you have a lot of space at your disposal, it’s possible to practice clay pigeon shooting either solo or with others. If you don’t have a shooting partner, you can purchase an automatic trap. This will allow you to focus entirely on your shot. If you’re on your own, clay pigeon shooting is virtually impossible without an automatic trap. Those who do have a partner can use a variety of tools such as string release manual traps, or hand-held target throwers.

Protective gear

Next, it’s important to equip yourself with safety glasses, as well as some ear protection. The powerful noise from the barrel could damage your eardrums over time. Don’t make the mistake many others have done before you: always protect your hearing and your eyes.

Where to go clay pigeon shooting

Not everyone has access to a big private land where it’s safe to shoot. That’s why it is often necessary to become a member of a shooting club. Several shooting clubs do offer the opportunity to practice this particular discipline. There are shooting clubs everywhere across the province, and they can present many advantages. First, the support offered allows beginners to practice the activity with confidence. The same support also allows more advanced shooters to continuously improve their skills. Finally, these safe surroundings allow you to meet other keen clay pigeon shooting enthusiasts. Therefore, it is an excellent way to get ready for small game hunting.

A few pro-tips

  1. The first tip to remember when it comes to clay pigeon shooting is to pay attention to your position. A good position is essential; if your feet are pointing in the wrong direction as you follow the disc, your whole body will be out of balance, and you will undoubtedly struggle to hit your target. You should therefore keep your feet wide apart and pointing towards your target.
  2. You should also shoot while following the target’s trajectory. Point your hunting shotgun at the spot where the disc leaves the trap. You should follow the clay pigeon’s trajectory with your body and the side of your shotgun, while accelerating in a fluid movement. Your shotgun will naturally go further than the clay pigeon. Then, as your shotgun passes in front of the target, shoot without stopping or shaking your weapon.
  3. Finally, practice remains the best way to get good results, both during your dry runs and your actual hunts. As clichéd as this sounds, there are no silver bullets. You need to know how to handle your firearm. Depending on the brand, the caliber and the chosen ammunition, the weight, the feeling of the gun and the recoil will be different.

You might also like