How to Simply Shoot a Clay Pigeon

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By Kelsey Anderson

When you’re new to shooting you’d better believe that you will hear too much advice. Experienced shooters have a lot of knowledge and want to tell you every specific tip that could help you… information overload! It’s too much to think about at this point in the game. As a fairly new shooter myself let’s bring it back to the basics.

Focus on your stance and grip

Definitely start at the shooting range to get some practice in before trying to take on your first live bird. Before the clay pidgeon is tossed think about your stance; let’s go from the bottom up. Your heels should not be farther apart than your shoulders and your dominant foot should be back a bit. The toe of your leading foot should be facing forward where you plan to shoot. A shooter should be erect and balance your weight slightly forward.

Now, taking into account your gun. It should really be viewed as an extension of your body, feeling as fluid and natural as possible. A shooter should grip the forearm of the gun and extend their index finger so it lines up with the barrel. This way you can use your index finger to point at the target. Pulling the gun up into your shoulder and against your cheek so your eyes can see down the barrel.


Now that you have your gun in the right place, with your shoulder and cheek, you can focus on the target. That damn clay pigeon is taunting you! Many shooters and popular hunting websites tell you to always keep both keys open. I haven’t been shooting for very long, but I am embarrassingly awful with both eyes open! So, although I’m going against what many shooting professionals will tell you, do what’s best for you, one or both eyes open. After your target is in sight, lock-in. Be sure to anticipate where it is going and ….

Follow through!

Playing Big Buck Hunter a while back at Scheels sparked my interest in hunting as I dominated my friend JJ in the bonus bird round, giving me the “W”. He was getting all the hits on the bucks until the targets started moving faster; let your instincts take over! I didn’t have time to think as I shot at the birds flying in and out of the screen. After locking in to the target be sure to trust your reflexes. That confidence will build over time with more and more practice. When you’re holding a real gun I wouldn’t suggest to stop thinking completely… your hunting partners may not appreciate that, but with aiming you need to let your instincts take over. After you lock-in to the target and pull the trigger keep following through. Maybe this sounds familiar if you ever played sports that included a ball. Keep the barrel of the shotgun moving steadily and this will increase the accuracy of your shot.

As a summary: strong and sturdy stance, lean forward at the waist slightly, aim and follow through!


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