Article 8 – 2013
Question: My father always told me that when I shoot clays in a competition it is an advantage to shoot at the broken pieces of the clay targets with my second shot even after I have hit them on my first shot. Is this correct? I ask because I have heard different opinions and some of the people in a Trap squad I was shooting in recently were getting upset with me when I was doing it.
Bruce Ronaldson, Queenbeyan NSW
Answer: It is an age old question Bruce and one, which has no definitive answer. My father always taught me to follow, but not shoot at, a broken piece of the target after I hit it on the first barrel so I would learn never to lift my head off the stock of the shotgun so when I actually do miss the clay on the first shot I would already be in the habit of quickly getting ready to fire the second barrel when it was needed. I still do this today and often actually pull the second barrel at a chip when shooting DTL or Olympic Trap. In the latter discipline you occasionally see the best shooters in the world doing this, as it is such a reflex sport that sometimes instinctively competitors do this just to make sure the target is broken. There is no penalty for breaking it on either barrel so if the shooter feels the first shot may not have been perfect the second shot is fired virtually on top of the first one.
In DTL you have quite a bit more time to respond so the instinctiveness is a lot less. Often a chip will go on a completely different course than the original trajectory of the clay and firing at it is anything but instinctive. If you manage to hit a wayward chip it gives you a bit of self-satisfaction, but no extra points. In essence unless you are sponsored by a shot shell company I wouldn’t advice you actually get in the habit of shooting at every chip that is presented to you, but certainly train yourself to keep your head on the stock and aligned just in case you need that second shot to keep you alive in the competition.
In relation to your statement about other competitors getting upset by you at shooting your own chips I would only give them some sympathy if you were clowning around and waiting to the very last tenth of a second to shoot at the broken piece. This would seem unnatural and would put the timing off for the rest of the squad. Of course it is your target and you can do with it as you please, but you need to consider the other squad members and the spirit of the competition you are competing in. If you find yourself shooting on your own all of a sudden you will understand why.
Question: I had some number 4 lead shot left over from my earlier duck shooting days and I just wanted to fire them off at some sporting clays in practice. I have been doing this a bit lately and was told it may not be legal. Is it allowed?
Answer: In a word; NO. Clay target ranges have a safety distance template based on the maximum competition shot size which, depending on USA, English or European shot size codes, is roughly a 6 ½ load. Number 4 shot will travel further and to my knowledge I do not know of a range that will give you permission to shoot them in either Sporting, Skeet or Trap. Your best bet is to shoot them on somebody’s farm over a hand thrower. Number 4’s will get you some impressive range hits.