WON Landing Page March 2022

Explained: 4 shotgun sports where you shoot at clay targets

When you think of July, you might think of fireworks exploding in the sky. When LG and I think of something exploding in the sky, we think of clays targets and shotgun sports. Exploding orange targets can be almost as fun as fireworks, especially to a new shooter.

Once your new shooter knows firearm safety and operation, heading to the range to shoot flying targets should be fun. Hand throwers can be found at virtually any sporting goods store, and are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. You may also use a manual-loading thrower to get those orange, clay discs in the air.

It’s sometimes challenging for a newbie to hit a moving target, but once she hits one and it shatters, listen for the “oohs,” “ahs” and cheering. The explosion of orange signals success, and that’s when the fun starts. That’s also when you’ll want to help your new shooter make the progression from a beginner to a more experienced shotgunner.



Mia & the Little Gal is sponsored by Girls With Guns Clothing


Overview of shotgun sports



Trap is launched from 1 thrower or trap house. The shooter rotates to 5 positions, and shoots 5 shots per location. This simulates shooting live birds in the field. The targets are launched at different angles from the trap house. The clays can fly from the house in any direction, similar to a pheasant or other game bird being flushed. The shooter has to be ready just as he or she would be on a hunt. It’s great practice for follow through and for shooting clays.


LG shoots trap



Skeet is launched from 2 different towers, called the high house and the low house. Skeet also simulates hunting. It’s shot from 8 locations between the 2 towers, changing the shooter’s angle on the target. Clays are thrown in patterns of singles and doubles, so the shooter learns to lead one, then shoot it. Then they have to quickly locate the other, swing and shoot. Skeet is a fast moving event. It increases shooters’ reflexes and requires them to remember to point their shotguns, not aim them.


Sporting clays

Sporting clays is often explained as golf with a shotgun. Similar to golf, sporting clays requires the shooter to move though a course, from stand-to-stand. At each stand, the shooter gets an opportunity to shoot at clays thrown from different angles. Some clays simulate rabbits running and jumping at low levels, while others simulate game birds flying or being flushed.

Sporting clays provides a challenge, not only because the targets are flying in different manners, but also because the background and skyline are different, as well. This can cause targets to appear to be flying faster or slower than they really are, or to be flying in an arch when they are flying straight and flat.


Youth shooter ready at the sporting-clays-station-photo-by-Mia-Anstine



For those of us who may be lacking in time, money or who cannot walk a sporting clays course, 5-stand is an alternative. The set-up takes much less space than a sporting clays course. It, therefore, requires less walking and saves a considerable amount of time.

5-stand is a cross among trap, skeet and sporting clays, with the advantage that it is more action-packed than trap, has more crossing and flying patterns than skeet and is cheaper than sporting clays.

5-stand shooters take turns at each of the 5 stands, shooting 3 combinations, then rotating to the next stand. The combinations are listed as “menus” and placed on or in front of each stand. The combination may begin with a single thrown from station 6 on the first shoot, to a double (3 to 7) on the second shoot and another double (1 to 5) on the third. Each stand will have a different combination listed on the menu at their location.


Youth shooting at 5-stand-shotgun-stations-photo-by-Mia-Anstine


To find a place to shoot near you, visit your local firearms dealer or one of the following websites: NSSF’s Where to shootClay targets online and NRA Range Services.

  • About The WON

    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.


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