Shooting clay pigeons

In last week’s article I lamented about how horrible I shot while pheasant hunting over in South Dakota. My self esteem was at rock bottom so when the young couple across the street asked if I wanted to go throw a few clay pigeons I said YES! Finally, a chance to redeem myself.

The next afternoon we loaded up the thrower, clay pigeons and the rest of the gear and headed out to the edge of town. We got things set up and Allen threw the birds while Audrey and I shot. I’ve never owned a good thrower but they had a Champion thrower that ran off of a deep cycle boat battery. I’ve got to check into one of those.

We took turns shooting and throwing and had a good time. I hit a few clays and built my confidence back up, which will save some counseling fees!

I’d taken some water bottles to blast and while Allan was unloading the gear, I threw one up for Audrey to shoot. She must have hit it dead center because I’ve never seen a bottle blow up that bad. It literally disintegrated. Vaporized. Ceased to exist. We looked and only found the cap screwed onto the neck and two other small fragments. Gee, I wish we had videoed it. She tried some more but never could mimic that shot.

After we got done shooting the shotguns then I pulled out the Umarex Steel Force which is a cool looking CO2 BB gun. It can fire six-round bursts. How cool is that! I had Allan throw a couple of clays and then he tried but we couldn’t quite hit a flying clay with it.

Then we had to shoot the 9mm. All of my life I’ve been a tight-wad so I normally just take a cardboard box and throw some dirt in it so it doesn’t blow off and then tape a target to it. This time though I’d taken a Caldwell Ultra-Portable Target Stand Kit. It is an awesome target holder for shooting with a pistol or I guess rifle, too, for that matter.

Ugh, my 9mm was now hitting about 4 to 6 inches to the right. Now I’m going to have to go back out again soon and figure out what’s wrong and get it sighted back in.

Then Allan wanted Audrey to shoot a few heavy pheasant loads so she’d be used to the kick when they go pheasant hunting next weekend. She shot a few and then Allan threw me a couple to try. What a gunsel, I’d forgotten my good Axil ear protection and only had foam ear plugs on me. Wow, the pheasant loads were a lot louder and my ears are still ringing.

Shooting clays is a blast and good practice to boot. If you want to start shooting clays and never have done so don’t panic. The gear is pretty simple. In the beginning I tried all of the hand throwers but they’re marginal at best. But you probably can’t afford one of the big commercial types of throwers, either. The Champion thrower that Allan and Audrey had looked like a good economical thrower.

You want to shoot pretty fast so you don’t want too tight of a choke. I was using a Trulock Dove choke which is .722 but I think next time I’ll use a Trulock Modified which is .720. For shells you’ll want some low base 7½- or 8- shot. The heavier waterfowl shells may be hard to find but you should be able to find some low base 7 ½- or 8-shot.

So, if you want to have a fun afternoon with the family, grab a box of clays and go dust a few. If the kids are too small, like 6 and under, you can set up some clays and let them break them with their BB or pellet guns.

After you get thinking that you’re pretty good, watch the Gould Bros. I met them in March in Alabama at the Shooting Sports Showcase and had dinner with them. I can’t even begin to tell you how great of shots that they are. Check out their shooting exhibition shows on YouTube. They’re unbelievable.

Wow, what if you could shoot like that?

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at

Post Author: By Tom Claycomb

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