Shooting Clays for Upland Hunting Practice

It’s that time of year when shotgun instructors find their days filled with coaching people on upland hunting techniques. In my previous post, “Preparing for Upland Hunting Season with a Franchi Affinity 3” I shared tips and suggestions from my friend John Francis. In this post I take John’s drill and show you in a video how shooting clays for upland hunting practice might benefit you this upcoming season. 

Sponsored by Franchi

John suggests setting up a trap in a field, or finding a trap at a club that throws a full-size target at a slow-to-moderate speed with about a 30-to-45 degree angle up and away. This action mimics a flushing bird, which is usually what you’ll come across pheasant hunting. 

Setting Up the Shot

Try walking toward the trap when the bird (clay) is released. Make this approach to the trap at an angle and move your leading foot (left foot for right handed shooter) into the shot. Make taking a step to perform the shot into part of your gun mount routine.

Franchi Shotgun Clays
(Ken Laugel photo)

If rules restrict you from walking up to the trap before shooting, have somebody release the target when you’re in the ready position and not when you call pull. This adds the surprise factor to it, which creates a more realistic practice. 

Cerino SHooting Franchi Affinity
(Ken Laugel photo)

When possible, have a friend practice shooting with you. Use two traps and back each other up. Not only does this help you learn your shooting zones, it’s also a lot of fun. 


Hitting the Bird

When making the shot, if you look at an entire pheasant, you will usually shoot below the bird. Instead, when the pheasant flushes, focus your eyes on the head of the bird and you will probably hit it. This same tip applies to clay targets. Make note of the clay’s flight line. Focus on its leading edge as you pull the trigger. 

upland hunting scene

Final Thoughts

Throughout the years I’ve had many opportunities to partake in upland bird hunting; doves, chukars, prairie chickens and pheasants. If you’re ever invited to the fields, I highly suggest jumping at the chance. I know you will enjoy it!

Happy hunting!

  • About Michelle Cerino

    Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, first entered the firearms industry in 2011 as co-owner, president and trainer at a national training company. She immediately began competing in both 3-Gun and NRA Action Pistol, becoming a sponsored shooter. Michelle is currently a columnist and Managing Editor of Women’s Outdoor News, as well as owner of Pervenio LLC. She also manages social media for Vera Koo and GTM Original. Michelle encourages others to step out of the comforts of home and explore.