How to Improve Clay Target Shooting

Written by greg stone
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How to Improve Clay Target Shooting
Clay target shooting. (boy shooting image by palms from

Clay shooting brings men and women together for both competition and fun. Beginners often battle, however, with consistently hitting the targets. Many start out struggling with a still target. A moving clay presents an even greater challenge. The most common reason for poor clay shooting is not maintaining focus on the target through the shot. Anyone can improve their shooting by increased focus and understanding some other fundamentals.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Focus on the target, and not the gun barrel or bead. The bead is the small bump at the tip of your gun used for aiming. Focus on the clay from the moment it is ejected, before lifting the gun.

  2. 2

    Position your feet so you could draw a line from your back heel through your leading foot to where you will shoot the clay. Stand with your feet close together, about one to two feet apart. This helps with your gun swing.

  3. 3

    Practice a consistent move of your gun up to the shooting position. The more the gun mirrors the target line, speed and direction of the clay, the more you will hit on a consistent basis.

  4. 4

    Point in front of the target while it is moving. Most misses, according to Bob Knopf with the National Wing and Clay Shooting School, occur behind the target. Adjust the distance in front of the target until you consistently hit the clay.

  5. 5

    Take your gun to a gunsmith for adjusting to ensure it shoots straight. Ask him to show you how to adjust the gun yourself, if you do not know how.

  6. 6

    Take shooting lessons from a certified instructor. You can get names of instructors from a local shooting club.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice on your form and focus, and don't rely on buying better guns and faster shells to improve your shooting.
  • Always wear hearing and eye protection when shooting.
  • Keep the gun unloaded and opened up when not shooting.
  • Always point the muzzle down when not shooting.

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