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The thrill of breaking a fast, high-flying clay target keeps tens of thousands of people across the UK coming back for more, whether it be as an occasional trip to the clay ground outside the game seasons, a regular hobby in its own right, or at competitive level. Clay pigeon shooting is an imensely popular activity.

An inclusive and fast-growing sport that crosses all the boundaries of age, gender and social background, clay target shooting involves breaking moving, airborne discs thrown from mechanical traps and presented in a huge variety of positions. Shotguns, smooth-bore guns firing metallic pellets housed in a plastic cartridge, are used predominantly in 12, 20 and 28 bore varieties – though others are also used. Most shotguns are double-barrelled, and the barrels can be ‘side by side’ or ‘over and under’. In order to possess your own shotgun you must apply for a Shotgun Certificate, although beginners can hire or borrow guns under supervision.

Clay shooting usually takes place at a clay ground, a permanent venue where traps and shooting stands – and often a clubhouse and perhapd even a gun shop – are set up. But it is also very common to find clay shooting taking place in fields or anywhere that it is safe and lawful to set up a trap and to shoot. The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association maintains a comprehensive list of venues and shooting clubs.

There are a large number of clay target disciplines, roughly divided into Trap, Skeet and Sporting.

Trap challenges the shooter by throwing out targets straight in front and going away, and these targets can be presented in singles, doubles and in a huge variety of speeds, trajectories and positions.

Skeet is shot from up to eight positions set out in a semi-circle with traps located at either end, and targets may be presented in singles and doubles. As the position of the shooter moves, so the presentation of the targets changes.

Sporting is the most popular clay target discipline. Sporting targets roughly aim to replicate the behaviour of quarry species such as high pheasant, teal and rabbit; anything goes, and targets range from simple crossing ‘birds’ to extraordinarily difficult, blink-and-you-miss-it ‘birds’ that you would be unlikely to see outside a clay ground!

There are many disciplines within these three groups, and as many forms of competition for each discipline.

Many SACS members shoot clay targets to keep their eye in outwith the game season and as a hobby alongside quarry shooting, but just as many people shoot clays as a sport in its own right. By tackling government on gun ownership issues, providing public liability insurance and offering advice on dealing with the police, SACS supports and promotes clay target shooting. Help our work by joining HERE, and call us for a chat anytime.