Sporting Gun asks Widdington Shoot Gun Club for a clayshooting lesson

Sean Ponting of Widdington Shoot has pretty much been there and got the T-shirt as far as Sporting and FITASC clayshooting goes. He has had 20 years of coaching experience, and has won competitions at county, regional and national level. He has been in the England team 18 times and also captained it. He is a member of The Association of Professional Shooting Instructors (APSI) and also designs layouts for grounds.

Sean says: “When I design a layout I have a few rules, one is the ‘eyesight test’. Clays must be easily visible to the shooter against the background. I also like to lay on ‘middle of the road’ targets and also some more testing ones. Especially when there are pairs – an easier one and a harder one. The harder ones sort the men from the boys but there are enough targets that even an average shooter can break them. You don’t want shooters to get disheartened.”

The day’s clayshooting lesson

The clay that Sean was going to look at was a high, slow driven clay that Jeremy described as a “slow crow”. The pupil for the lesson was Widdington’s gamekeeper Mike “Tuesday” Mundy. Sean said: “Mike shoots this clay with his gun-up. I would normally start teaching someone gun-up and let them define their own style – there is no hard and fast style that works in every situation. Over time, if you are to be a good all-round Shot, you need to develop a repertoire, or quite simply a good bag of tricks.

Clayshooting lesson

Break point and hold point illustrated

Sean’s tips for high, slow driven-clays

  • For this clay you really want your feet shoulder-width apart, and if you are right-handed then your leading left foot should be pointing where you intend to shoot.
  • The muzzles should be slightly below where the clay will emerge so you can see it. Don’t go too low or you may actually swing too far through it as you try to catch up with it. Alternatively, don’t have the muzzles too high or the clay will suddenly appear and you may have trouble catching up with it.
  • I look at the target in three stages; where will you pick it up with your eyes, where your hold point is and where will you take the shot? This is an on-report pair of driven clays, so when shooting these targets I have a golden rule, which is to treat the clays as two separate targets and repeat what you did the first time exactly the same for the second.
  • You should return to your ‘ready’ position for each one. A lot of shooting is psychology, so use whatever choke and cartridge combinations you have faith in. I use a Perazzi choked ½ and ¾, which I know works if I put my shot in the right place.
  • With this particular clay I would suggest shooting it later rather than earlier. Watch it, let it slow down and at its apex, just before it starts to drop, sit it on the end of your bead and shoot. It’s not very Sporting, but you are here to break clays, not make friends with them.”

    Clayshooting instructor

    Instructor Sean Ponting and pupil Mike Mundy