Clay Shooting Tips For Beginners


Your stance is foundational to set you up for successful wing and clay shooting.

It is very important but often overlooked element.

So we are going to go through a few basic elements that should hopefully give you the building blocks to becoming a successful and effective wing or clay shooter.

So as we are talking about this just keep in mind that there are some variations and different people teach slightly different things and that’s ok.

It’s not necessarily one ways right and one ways wrong. We will tell you how we like to set up our feet for our stance.

We should always orientate ourselves to where we think we gonna break the target. We call it the target break area.

For example, put a clay on the ground at 12 o’clock in front of you. So that’s what you are expecting to shoot your target.

Then you will need to orientate your front foot to about 1 o’clock and your back foot at 3 o’clock.

Your feet should be your shoulder width apart and if you look at your back heel, you can draw a line going from your back here through your front toes to the target break area.

Once you have your feet set correctly then you want to get some forward leaning towards your Target break area.

What you need to do is to bend your front knee until about 60% of your weight is on your front foot.

That will gives you a good solid foundation, a good athletics stance to shoot your clay or bird where you are intend to.

Eye Dominance

Now, we are going to talk about an eye dominance. All of us have a dominant eye.

A dominant eye is, the tendency of one of our eyes prefer visual input over the other.

But our dominant eye side doesn’t always match our dominant hand side. For example, if you might shoot right handed, you might be left eye dominant.

So whats that gonna cause is, when you point at your target, your eye is actually looking across your barrel.

That is gonna lead to a lot of misses and a lot of frustration. So the first thing we need to do is to test eye dominance to figure out if you left or right eye dominant.

A simple test is just to take with booth eyes open, place your finger under an object in the distance.

Then close your left eye, if nothing happens and it still place under that object, you are right eye dominant.

But, if when you close your left eye and it appear that your finger jump away from the object, then you are left eye dominant.

Now, if your dominant hand or your shooting side matches your dominant eye, thats great and nothing to worry about that.

But if you are right handed and it turns out that you are left side eye dominant, there is something that we need to look at.

This scenario is actually a lot more common than people realize and its not a big deal. There are some remedies.

One option is just to learn to shoot on your dominant eyes side. So if you left eye side dominant, maybe you shooting left handed.

I know it sound maybe like a lot of work, and it can be clumsy at first. But believe me, if a right eye dominant and right handed guy can learn to shoot left handed, I think you can do it too.

With a little bit of practice and repetition, it will become natural and we can guarantee you can hit more target.

Proper Gun Fit

Having a gun that fit you well as the shooter is a very critical element of successful wing and clay shooting.

Making sure that your mount is consistent and your eye is in the right spot, nearly every time you mount will help you to hit more clays or bird.

So we are going to look at a few of those elements and hopefully allow you to be able to see how well your shotgun fits you.

The first thing we will gonna look at is the length of pull which deals with the length of your stock.

so one quick way to see how well the length matches you the Shooter is just to mount your shotgun.

As you mount your shotgun, you need to look at the distance between your nose and your thumb.

You should have about 1 1/2 to maybe two and a half finger length.

The next thing we want to look at is drop at comb, which deals with how much your stock drop.

So again just mount your shotgun and look down the barrel. Now we testing for whether we are too high or too low.

If you looking down your barrel, you want to basically see the rib as a flat plane. If you’re too high, you are going to be looking down on the rib and seen a lot of rib.

Or if your head is too low, your will see a lot of receiver and you might not see the front sight of your gun.

Make sure that the rib is a flat plane as you are looking down the barrel of the shotgun.

Next, we will look at the cast of your shotgun which deals with what do your stock is bent left or right or neutral.

So if it bent to the left, that’s we call cast off, if it bent to the right thats called cast on.

A lot of shotguns come with the neutral cast, but that’s not always the case.

So let’s remount your shotgun, and this time pay an attention to if our eyes is really centred, making sure we’re not too far one side to the left or to the right and looking at an angle.

We want to be perfectly aligned with that rib, looking straight down that plane.

The last thing we will want to talk about is the pitch of your shotgun. Pitch is dealing with the angle of your recoil pad or your buttstock.

If your pitch is isn’t correct it’s gonna affect things like how you feel the recoil from your shotgun.

So there are some shooter complain about, it really feels like their face gets slapped when they shot with a shotgun.

A lot of times that’s just due to incorrect pitch. So if you have any of these problems there is a few things to look at.

First, a lot of shotguns now come with spacers or shims that allow you to make adjustments to your stock, to change length or your cast and different things like that as we talked about.

If they don’t fix the problem, you may want to see a qualified gunsmith. They will really be able to help you get your gun setup that fit you best.

Because that’s how you will gonna be more successful in shooting clays or shooting birds.

Mounting Your Shotgun

Next, we will be talking about mounting your shotgun. Getting a good consistent mount is very important to successful clay and wing shooting.

If we’re not mounting the same way every time, it changes the placement of our head, and our eye looking down the barrel which is going to make us inconsistent.

So we’re going to talk about a few basic elements in a good shotgun mount.

First thing we want to talk about is making sure when we mount, we bringing the gun up to our head and not our head down to the gun.

Some may have the tendency to mount to their shoulder and then bring their head down to the gun.

We want to actually bring the gun up to our shoulder and our head with the correct placement.

If this seems difficult to bring the gun up to your head instead of your head down to the gun, it could be an issue of gun fit.

The second thing we’re going to look at is cheek weld. The cheek weld is just making sure that your face is firmly placed against the stock of your gun and that it doesn’t move during the course of the shot.

Some may have the tendency to kind of move their head around on the stock or even float their head up as they’re in transitioning to the target.

When this happens it changes our sight picture, the way our eye sees the clay in relation to our gun, and most oftenly is going to lead to a mess.

So let’s make sure our cheeks are firmly placed on the stock of our gun and that they stay there through the course of the shot.

Next let’s look at the grip on the forearm. A lot of people find it beneficial to actually use their index finger to point on the forearm, with one finger pointing forward rather it’s on the side or on the bottom.

It’s not that big of a deal as far as I’m concerned anyways.

But why some people like to point like that is because we have a natural tendency to be able to point where we’re looking.

So if we’re looking at the bird, that natural tendency, the point should help us move up the shotgun to where it needs to be.

Next we’ll look at the other side with our other hand and your elbow. We don’t want our elbow down.

We want to get our elbow somewhere up in the vicinity of maybe 90 degrees.

This helps us create a nice pocket to mount the shotgun into and helps us increase our control of the shotgun.

Last thing I want to talk about with a good shotgun mount is making sure we’re mounting our gun as we’re moving it towards our intended target.

So if the birds coming out, we don’t want to mount and then swing to the bird.

We want to see the bird with their eyes and we need to always keeping our focus on the bird, not on the gun.

As we’re watching the bird, we bring the gun up to our head and shoulder, then acquire the right amount of lead and successfully shoot the bird.

Those are just a few elements of a good shotgun mount.

Pointing VS Aiming

You’ve probably heard it said that you don’t aim a shotgun, you point a shotgun.

This is a true statement, but a lot of people wondering really what in the world is the difference between pointing and aiming.

Well today I’m going to tell you the difference and why it’s so important.

Shooting a shotgun is very much about your hands, your brain and your eyes, all working together.

Otherwise, very commonly known as hand-eye coordination.

So let’s first look at pointing. When you point, say at a bird in the distance.

Our eyes are focused on that bird and we really don’t take time to make sure our hand is really lined up.

You don’t close one eye and say, “look at that bird over there! You will definitely say, hey! look at that bird, and you’re pretty close to pointing right where that bird is That’s hand-eye coordination.

When you aim a rifle, you’re focused on the sights. You are looking very close term.

Yes you see the object as well but you have a lot of focus on your barrel and the sights.

But, when you shoot at a shotgun, you need to make sure that your focus is not on your barrel or on your bead, but on the target.

When you’re focused on the target, your brain can better calculate the speed, distance and travel of that target and you will successfully make the shot.

So big differences, pointing a shotgun is your focus is out on the object not really on your barrel at all.

You will see your bead in your peripheral but your focus should not be in your bead.

When aiming a rifle, you’re very focused on the sights, on your gun and that’s the big difference, really.

So let’s look at it this way, a quick example. If you were to be throwing a football to someone running across the field, would you focus your vision on the guy running across the field or on your hands and your football as you throw it.

Well that’s kind of silly right. Of course you’re focused on the guy running down the field.

Shotgunning should really be no different. If you’re shooting at a bird or a clay, your focus should be on your target.

There’s no need to focus on your gun because you are going to move your hands to where that target is.

Lead with a Shotgun

We encounter a lot of shooters all over the country and may have trouble grasping the concept of how much lead they need to successfully hit a flying target.

So today we’re going to talk aboutthat three main types of a lead and how to achieve the right amount of lead to successfully hit your target.

The first type of lead is called the swing through method.

There’s a couple other names a shooters can refer to but we will call it as a swing through method.

The swing through method is actually when the birds moving through the air, you mount and insert your barrel behind the bird.

Then you accelerate through your target until the right amount of lead is achieved.

So you mount behind the target, accelerate through the target until the right amount of lead is achieve and then pulling the trigger.

The second type of lead we’re going to talk about is called pull- head. This is a little bit different and the fact that we insert our gun and mount on the target.

Once mounted on the target, we accelerate forward until the right amount of lead is achieved.

So the difference between that and the swing through is, a swing through start behind and accelerate through while the pull-head, you start at the target and then accelerate through.

The last type of lead we’re gonna talk about is a sustained lead. So on this one, you mount the gun, insert in the barrel actually ahead of the target and then you try to achieve the right amount of lead, matching speeds with the target as you pull the trigger.

Well no matter which type of these leads you use, it’s very important to follow-through with your shot.

Follow-through is continuing to move the barrel as you’re pulling the trigger for a slight and even for a slight second afterwards.

What happened a lot times of people acquire the target think they have the right amount of lead and and as they start to pull the trigger they stopped their swing.

When this happens most of them are missing behind the bird.

The other thing to remember with a lead is it’s very important to keep our eyes focused on the target.

Lot times of people are trying to see the amount of lead.

When our eyes are focused on the target, our brain can calculate how much lead we need and we move our hands to where we need to shoot.

That is why our eyes need to always focused on the target.

The other common question we have is, how much lead do I need on the shot. Do I need 1 feet or do I need 5 feet.

You can express it in those terms but it is not really the most effective a lot of times.

It’s sort of like asking if a guys running 30 yards downfield and is gone at a 45 degree angle, how much lead does he need.

Well it can be expressed in terms of feet, but we don’t know if that’s the most effective way.

What happens is, as you focus on your target, your brain calculate the speed distance and angle of travel, your brain takes that data and your body responds accordingly.

So if your eyes are focused on that target, your hands and body will respond by moving the gun to where it needs to be.

Now the only way to end up getting the right amount of lead
is through practice and repetition.

Like any sport and any activity, you need to get out practice and get that repetition.

One thing that’s very beneficial for a lot of shooters that have trouble knowing where they’re missing the target, front or behind, is to gain it from an experience shooter.

Just come out with them and lot of times they can stand behind you and say, hey you’re behind that one, you need more lead and you can work on it together.

Otherwise, a qualified coach or instructor can really alleviate a lot of frustration with lead.

Lastly Winchester has come out with a great training tool called the Winchester TrAAcker Round.

The tracker has the colored wad that travels with your shot through the air. So when you miss the shot you can see that wad and where it goes.

It often helps to have a buddy with you that they can see it as well.

So then you can say, ohh man, my wad went three feet behind that target and i need more lead.

As you start to go through the shots with repetition, your brain starts to calculate it, you become more accurate, you become more consistent, you hit more birds.

Leave a Comment