The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

How to deal with clays when they’re different sizes

Minis, midis, standards ....

Clayshooting spectators

Recently I was attended a simulated game day and one of the stands made some of the shooters come a cropper.

Shot by teams of three, this stand featured a flurry of high driven birds, presented off the top of a hill over a wide ride between two banks of trees.

A flush

The birds were presented in such a way that the majority would be taken almost overhead by the line of guns. At any one time there were four or five clays in the air – regular clay shooters would simply call this a flush.

On inspection I decided that 90% of the targets presented  were either minis or midis.

shooting different sized clays

Standard clays

However, to keep us on our toes, the designer occasionally threw out a a single, standard size clay, which hugged the side of trees as it flew over our heads.

Most of these standard targets sailed over unharmed. That’s when I decided to write this article about dealing with different sized clays.

Shot as a single a standard probably wouldn’t have presented a problem to the average club shooter.  These weren’t fast, had a consistent flight line about 25 yards up, coming almost straight towards and then over the shooter.

All the Guns had to do was track the target, pull in front of the bird and rely on instinct to decide when to pull the trigger.

However each team of shooters managed to dust the majority of the higher, faster (and generally harder) smaller targets that were whizzing above them. Which surprised me. Why were they hitting the easier standards?

How clays travel

It helps to know how each clay travels through the air.

The standard clay target is just over 4″ in diameter and will generally fly on a reasonably true path, although it can be affected by strong wind.

With a standard clay we all know what to expect.

The midi, however, is physically smaller than the standard clay, being around 3.5″ in diameter, and it can often exhibit different flight characteristics when released from a trap.

Clay shooting - clays

The midi will fly relatively ‘true’ as it is released but when its velocity slows it can appear to perform unexpected ducks and dives.

The mini is often thought to be a really tricky target to hit because of its small size – just under 2.5″ in diameter.

It appears to leave the trap like a bullet but it will travel on a consistent line until its velocity drops when it can be seriously affected by any strong wind.

Dealing with the difference

It’s the impression of speed, not the actual velocity, that’s important.  That’s what the shooters on the simulated game day were finding hard to deal with. Because they were shooting more midis and minis, their sight pictures adjusted for these types of birds. By chucking in the odd standard target, the course designer lured them into giving the ‘perceived’ slower bird not enough lead.

Couple this with the fact that, compared with the smaller targets, the standard looked closer than it really was and it’s easy to see why confusion reigned and most birds were missed!

Dealing with the midi

The midi is one of the best sporting targets you can get. The clay itself is heavy enough to maintain a good speed over quite a long distance but, because it’s lighter than the standard target, it tends to come out of the trap slightly quicker.

Clay shooting - Midi target

  • The general problem a lot of shooters have with the midi is assessing the range, and the amount of lead needed to break the clay. In addition, it’s it’s often quite easy to confuse the midi with a standard.
  • On a Sporting layout if it isn’t obvious or stated on the stand what type of bird you’re shooting at, ask the referee or the trapper.Take your time and don’t try to rush your shot.
  • Don’t let the thought of a midi put you off before you even get on the stand – take it exactly as you would any other bird.

Dealing with the mini

  • It’s because minis are so small and light they struggle to maintain any sort of speed beyond 25 or 30 yards or so from the trap.
  • Anything further than this and the bird starts to slow down considerably, even when it’s not windy, before starting to float gently forwards.
  • In a strong headwind the clay can even float backwards when it loses momentum.

Clay shooting -the mini.

  • The trick is to try and take the bird as early as you can, when it’s still under power. Don’t rush the shot, but the longer you leave it the more it’s going to be affected by the wind.
  • On the plus side, because the mini is such a small, almost delicate target, even just one pellet from a cartridge is usually enough to break it and enable you to claim a kill.