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Article 4 – 2024 (May)

Australian Shooter Magazine

Question and Answers

Article 4 – 2024 (May)

Question:  I am very confused about what stance I should be using when I am shooting clays. Many years ago, I was a fairly competitive three-position rifle shooter and the stance I used to use was pretty much standard for everyone, but since I have started playing around with clays it appears everyone stands differently point their feet at different angles. To make it worse, everyone has different advice. Any help would be appreciated.

Karl Goodman, Brisbane QLD

Answer:  It is a good question, but one with no definitive answer I am afraid. Your stance for clay target can vary for a variety of reasons with the discipline you are competing in being at the top of the list.

I am not sure what event you are using your shotgun for, but in clay target events such as Sporting Clays or Skeet where the targets are thrown at known trajectories your stance can be wider and rigid than it can be for the disciplines such as Trap where the target flight path is unknown. Even in the Trap events this stance can vary. For example in Olympic Trap where the angles are quite wide when compared to the domestic or American version of Trap, a much narrower stance is generally adopted. The reason being that a narrower stance forces you to swing or move the shotgun along this unknown flightpath by moving your entire body, from the ankles up, therefore creating a faster and smoother technique. Wider stances tend to promote only upper body movement which is fine as long as you don’t need to move your shotgun across the skyline too far.

When you know the trajectory of the target you can calculate the exact position where you intend to break it therefore less gun movement is required therefore letting you set up a more stable stance somewhat similar, but far from identical, as you would have had to adopt when you were competing in the “standing” stage of your three-position rifle event.

In an event where you know exactly the position you are going to break the target you can also have the luxury of placing slightly more weight over your front leg which will help negate the recoil created from your shot-shell. In the Trap disciplines you need to be careful of placing too much weight forward by simply bending your front knee as this can lead to other issues relating to a fast and smooth reflex movement towards the target.

As a broad general rule, the most common stance in the world for right handed shotgun shooters is this; pretend you are standing on a one metre wide clock (a clock one with hands, not a digital one). With the back of your heels approximately twenty centimetres apart place your left foot pointing at one o’clock and your right foot point towards two o’clock. This will point the centre of your body forty five degrees off centre (or at one-thirty on the clock). This position should allow you to rotate equally to both your left and right hand side. Again, this is just a general rule, but is a great guide to get you started and it is one of the most basic fundamentals to master. For left handers do the same, but point your right foot towards eleven o’clock and your left foot facing ten o’clock.

You mentioned that everyone has a different piece of advice in regards to stance, but to be honest there is not one exact stance to fit everyone. Even in trap shooting the stance I mentioned above needs to be varied slightly depending on what station you are standing on to cater for the most angled target you may possibly have to engage. Larger people generally need slightly wider stances to cater for their body size in relation to balance and smaller competitors may need to transfer more weight forward of centre when mounting the shotgun to their shoulder to help alleviate recoil so they can have an effective and fast instinctual second shot at the target if they need it.

Experiment with these slight variations of your stance to find out what is best for you. Don’t be too proud to closely watch some of the best competitors in your discipline and copy what they are doing. They are generally standing the way they do for a reason. When I say watch the “best” competitors I am suggesting the ones that are actually collecting the prizes at the end of day presentations and not the ones who suggest they are the best in the club’s car park or on their social media. They are the ones that generally need to keep experimenting with their technique.

Good luck with your quest.

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