Basic techniques that will almost certainly improve your success rate
Remember what you’re trying to do is arrange a successful collision between the moving target (the clay) and your shot. Study these images and you’ll appreciate the exact mechanics behind it all.
Let’s keep things simple to start off with.
So imagine you’ve got a bird that’s crossing in front of the stand, travelling through the kill zone at 40 miles per hour.
A quick calculation shows that the target is moving at 58.6 feet per second.
Still keeping things simple, let’s assume the shot is travelling at 1,000 feet per second (fps).
Let’s say that here the distance from the shooting stand to the clay itself is 100 feet.
That means a shot travelling at 1,000 fps is going to take a tenth of a second (0.1) to travel the 100 feet.
What the shooter needs to realise
Now the issue for the clayshooter occurs because, in the same tenth of a second that the front of the shot stream takes to travel to the clay, the clay itself has also been moving forward for the same amount of time.
As we know, this was at 40mph, or, 58.6 feet a second. So in that tenth of a second it’s travelled 5.86 feet (dividing 586 by 10) – and that’s nearly two yards!
Therefore, in this example, this is the minimum amount of lead needed to break the clay.
Never shoot at a clay
You’ll also now understand why if you shoot at a clay you’ll always miss behind.
Of course this doesn’t mean to say that every time you hit a bird 100 feet away with around six feed of lead you’ll always get a hit. Obviously there are far too many variables involved.
On the other hand, now you know more about the logistics of making a hit between the shot stream and the clay.
It’s all about arranging a collision between the stream of shot and the clay
The basic principle is that muzzles must be ahead of the bird when you pull the trigger, simply to allow the clay to run into the stream of shot.
There is always a slight delay before the shot stream collides with the clay. Now you appreciate this concept you’ll be able to judge better how far the barrels need to be ahead of the target when you pull the trigger.
“Give it about six feet”
This delay is something most shooters refer to vaguely in general terms, saying things like: “Give it about six feet”.
What looks like six feet to one man could look like six yards to another. So it’s not that accurate an instruction!
And if the bird is at extreme ranges: “I reckon it needs about an acre and a half” or “give it the length of a bus” are not the most productive of comments!
Talking about the angle of the muzzles rather than perceived distance
It’s probably simpler to talk about the angle of the muzzles, relative to the position of the bird, as we squeeze the trigger – rather than the perceived distance the barrels are ahead of the target. Something the image below explains clearly.
No matter what the distance is between the gun and the bird, the angle remains constant.
You might find it easier to imagine a clock face and think about the gun barrels as the hour hand. Saying “shoot at two o’clock” gives a strong, visual image to remember and act upon.
Keep the gun moving after pulling the trigger
This is a crucial factor – you must keep the gun moving after pulling the trigger.
Stopping your swing is one of the most common reasons for missing targets.
Stop the gun and you’re almost certain to miss behind. So don’t stop that swing!