About Clays With its roots coming from England, sporting clays is a shotgun shooting game in which clay pigeons are presented to the gunner in ways that mirror the flight pattern of game birds, or occasionally rabbits, in their natural habitats. The shooting grounds are laid out in stations (also called stands or butts, the British term) with each station representing one type of bird or a combination of game; a rabbit and a grouse, for example.
At each station, clay pigeons are thrown in pairs, five or so pairs to the station. A course consists of several stations, usually five to ten, where 100 birds or more may be presented over the course. Sometimes birds from the same traps may be shot from different positions, so the gunner sees the same target from entirely different angles, which creates entirely new shooting problems. An area presenting pigeons to several stations from a single trap is called a field.
With variations in trap position, trap speed, shooting position, and flight paths of different types of clay pigeons, targets can come through the trees, from under your feet, straight down, over your head, quartering, going away, left to right, right to left, and in any path a real bird might choose. The key words are unpredictable, variable, and sometimes bordering on impossible.
As in golf, the rules of sporting clays become more specific, and therefore more restrictive as the level of competition increases. There are a few basic rules, however, that define the sport:
1. The shooter may start with a low gun or a pre-mounted gun when calling for the target. 2. Only two shells may be loaded. 3. If doubles are tossed and both are broken with one shot, both are counted as kills. 4. A malfunction of the gun is counted as a lost bird under United States Sporting Clays Association (USSCA) rules; the National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) allows two malfunctions per day without penalty. 5. Chokes or guns may be changed only between fields. A field is one or more shooting stations serviced from a common trap. The NSCA permits chokes to be changed between stations.
Wing shooting with a shotgun had its origins in England in the mid-eighteenth century. The next century saw live pigeon shoots become popular, reaching their peak toward the end of the Victorian era, when one’s ability to handle a gun had definite social implications. American inventor George Ligowski invented a replacement for live birds in 1880 made of baked clay and modeled after the clamshells he used to skim across water. Ligowski''s clay pigeon quickly replaced feather-filled balls, the only other alternative to live birds, and just as quickly replaced the real thing.
The first clay pigeon game, which imitated live pigeon shooting, was called trap, after the device used to hold and release live birds. Next, a new shooting game called skeet was developed in New England which was designed to approximate the fast, close-range shooting found in that area''s grouse coverts.
Meanwhile back in England, the demand to perform at estate shoots on driven game gave rise to a number of shooting schools. These schools, in turn, adapted Ligowski''s clay pigeon to use on practive fields of targets that approximated the flight of live quarry, as the English like to call it. Sporting clays was born.
Although the Britsh Open, England''s premier sporting clays competition, dates back to 1925, sporting clays has made its greatest gains in popularity in England within the last 20 years. Meanwhile it took a while for the sport to make it to America. In 1985, the Orvis Company hosted the first national sporting clays championship at its Houston facilities, for which the company established the Orvis Cup. Sporting clays had come to America.
What are the different targets?
Standard Clay Target The standard clay target is the bird sporting shooters will face on most stations. It measures 4 1/4 inches (108-110mm) across and about 1 inch in height, up to nearly 1 1/8 inch from some makers. A standard can be broken with open chokes and small shot when up close, say within 30-35 yards, regardless of the angle of the bird presented to the shooter. Even when only its edge is visible, its rim and high shoulder provide a lot of surface area for pellets to impact. Standards that show much or all of their underside or top, such as birds thrown well above or below the shooter, present even more surface area to the gun and can be broken with open chokes and small shot to 45 yards and even beyond. The time to tighten chokes and switch to larger shot, like No. 7 1/2s, is when ranges increase significantly, especially when only the target''s profile is visible.
Rocket Target The rocket target, still measuring 4 1/4 inches in diameter, features a much flatter profile, only about 5/8 inch. They are seldom thrown on many courses, but when they are, they can catch even a top gun off guard. With a profile almost half the height of a standard, the rocket's squat dome is seldom visible to the shooter when thrown edge-on. Its thicker rim, lower profile, and often-heavier weight let the rocket maintain its velocity off the trap arm better and longer into its flight, making many shooters miss behind, especially when mixed in a pair with standard clay. When only its edge is visible, select 7 1/2, and even a choke tighter than improved cylinder when ranges exceed about 35 yards.
Rabbits Rabbits, provided they show shooters their full face, are not tough to break, at least not ballistically. While we are not going to try to tell you how to lead a bounding bunny here, when presented closer than 20 yards, even No. 9s will do the trick. No. 8 shot will work out to about 30 yards; well within the range that most rabbits are shot. Only when distances stretch beyond 35 yards or the target is rolling directly or quartering away from you should 7 1/2s and even tighter chokes be used. The thick, tough outer rim of a rabbit target that withstands contact with the ground similarly can take a beating from pellets without breaking, particularly when thrown on-edge to the shooter. When you see its full surface area, however, smaller pellets will crack even the rim. The next time you are at a rabbit station, ask the trapper for permission to walk downrange and inspect some whole targets. You will probably be amazed at how many have holes in their thinner centers and even chips on the outer edges of their rims yet remain unbroken. However, despite what conclusion you may draw, the secret is to score pellet hits solidly on the rim. This usually calls for more pellets, not necessarily larger ones, at reasonable shooting ranges. So opt for a tighter choke before switching to a larger shot size.
The razor-thin battue The razor-thin battue, shot when it turns to show you all or most of its full face, will crack readily with No. 8s at most any distance. The tough part is figuring out the proper lead, typically under as well as out front, as it curls downward. Trying a shot early in the target''s flight when only its profile, a tad more than 1/4-inch thick, is visible is suicide.
Midi clays Midi clays are one of the two targets with a diameter less than a standard. At 3 1/2 inches (90mm), about 3/4 inch shy of a standard, the midi is often mistaken for its larger cousin by unsuspecting shotgunners. Find out what you are shooting before stepping into the cage. In addition to its smaller diameter, midi clays are shorter, too, measuring only 3/4 inch in height. So tighter chokes are called for at greater distances. And remember that midis, the most aerodynamic of the domed clays, maintain their velocity and flight path better than standards. Since they slow down later in flight, waiting to shoot till they shed some speed is wise, especially since they probably won't be dropping much then, either.
Laura Borders BSN President/ Doyne Borders Operations Manager/ Pat Danials Vice President /
Laura Borders, President After working as a payroll administrator and raising two young men, Laura was able to finish her education. Graduating from I.S.U. Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Associates Degree in Business Administration. In 2007, after years of serving as a Registered Nurse, Assistant Director of Nursing, and Director of Nursing, Laura founded Terre Haute Sporting Clays in January of 2008. She saw the need for a local company that was interested in Shooting Sports and Fire Arms Safety.
Doyne Borders, Director of Operations Doyne has an extensive background in Project management in the construction industry. This experience is supplemented by broad skills in customer relationship's and costumer satisfaction. His experience in construction is a great advantage in course design and club logistics.
Pat was Head Buyer of parts at Cummins Intermountain Diesel for 38 years. Pat was responsible for managing inventory and the purchasing of engine parts for Salt Lake city as well as several satellite offices to include Las Vegas.
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