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Shotguns are large calibre guns firing cartridges loaded with lead shot. They are short-range weapons only, and the barrel is not rifled, but is smoothbore. Guns used for clay shooting are usually double barrelled (thus allowing two shots), or single-barrelled magazine-fed semi automatics. Often, the shooter is presented with two clays together, and has to shoot both, hence the use of double-barrelled guns, giving two shots.

The most popular type of double-barrelled gun is the 'over and under', in which the barrels are vertically stacked. The traditional 'side by side' type of game shooting gun is much less popular; usually they are too light for a prolonged shooting session, however, they are fine for casual competition.

Shotguns come in various calibres, properly called gauge or bore; the bigger the bore, the smaller the calibre. Thus a 12 bore is smaller than an eight bore, but bigger than a 20 bore. The largest bore allowed under CPSA and international rules is the 12 bore. This usually fires a cartridge holding 28 grammes (1 ounce) of shot. Recently, 20 bore guns (lighter, slimmer, possibly faster handling) have gained some popularity; they can also fire a one-ounce load, at the penalty of greater recoil. A particularly nice combination is the 20-bore semi auto. Because semi autos use the recoil energy, or some of the propellant gases to cycle the action and feed the next round they can recoil less than an equivalent fixed breech gun, and can be very comfortable to shoot. This particularly appeals to ladies and shooters of small stature.



Clay pigeons are neither clay nor even vaguely pigeon shaped. At one time they where made of ground chalk consolidated with bitumen, but due to concerns about the bitumous component, the recipe has changed, making them more biodegradable. Basically they are saucer shaped, and when thrown by the trap are spun in the horizontal plane, giving them an element of giro stabilization. Being saucer shaped, to a certain extent they ‘float’ on a cushion of trapped air.
They are fairly brittle, and only take hits by a few pellets to shatter.

There are different shapes and sizes:

Standard clays: these are saucer shaped and 100mm in diameter. They are the most common type and simulate most birds.

Midis: these are smaller versions of ‘standards’, but only 80mm in diameter. Being smaller, they can make the shooter think they are further away than in reality. Initially, they fly faster than standards.

Minis: even smaller than standards, about 60mm. They fly very fast and appear tiny.

Rabbits: these are special, very thick and tough clays that are fired along the ground by a special trap, to simulate rabbits. They take a lot of breaking.

Battues: these are about the same size as standard clay, but a completely flat. Hence they do not ‘float’ on a cushion of air and their flight can be unpredictable. Being very thin, they are very hard to see, let alone hit when viewed edge on.

Clay shoot scoring is usually very simple; each broken clay scores 1 point. In some trap competitions, a second barrel hit only scores ½ a point.




There are two traps involved in skeet shooting, set in trap houses 40 yards apart. One is the 'High House', as it is raised from the ground, and the other the 'Low House' as it it at ground level. There are seven shooting stations forming a semi circle between the two trap houses, and at each point targets are thrown alternately from each trap, as singles, then a pair of doubles. At stations three and five, the shooter only takes the alternate single birds. At station four- the central point, the shooter must nominate which bird in the double he will shoot at first. The first bird thrown will come from the high house on stations one to six, but at station seven, it will come from the low house. With the doubles, stations one and two the high bird will be shot first, and on six and seven the low bird. As this only equals 24 birds, the remaining shot depends on whether you have hit the all of the preceding birds. If so you may nominate which trap you would like to have the single bird from. Otherwise, it is repeated from the first bird that you missed. (See Technical Diagrams for an idea of the layout).


There are five shooting stations in a slightly curved line (to ensure the distance from the trap is constant), with a trap forward of these, one shooter occupies each of these positions. Each shooter loads two cartridges, and in turn calls for the bird from each station. If they hit the bird with their first shot they get 1 point, if they hit it with their second shot they get 1/2 point. Each shooter fires at five birds from each position. After everyone has shot at five birds, the shooters move to the stationt to their right, and repeat the procedure. (See Technical Diagrams for an idea of the layout).


This is a variation of clay shooting that tries to simulate the various types of bird that would be met if you were out shooting live birds. Clays can be thrown from traps as singles, simultaneous pairs (i.e. two from the same trap at the same time), following pairs (where they come from the same trap one after another) or as a pair from two separate traps.

Pairs can be thrown on report (where the second bird is not thrown until the gun is fired) or at the same time/cycle speed of the trap, regardless of the shooter's actions.

This form of shooting takes advantage of the various types of clay noted above.