Clay Pigeon Shooting Equipment List
Clay Pigeon shooting is a sport that involves shooting clay "pigeons," or discs, that are thrown in the air, either by a machine known as a "trap" or by hand, at a variety of angles and speeds. It can be done for fun, for friendly competition, or as a serious sport where cash prizes can be won by the victors. There are many different pieces of equipment that are needed to successfully and safely prepare for and compete in this sport besides just your shotgun, and depending on exactly what discipline of clay shooting you choose to specialize in, your equipment may slightly vary.
You can find a local club and dip your toes into the world of clay pigeon shooting with nothing more than a good pair of earplugs to protect your hearing, safety glasses to protect your eyes, and a shotgun with the correct ammunition for shooting pigeons, but there are other pieces of equipment considered important by many shooters to improve their quality of play, quality of life on the course, and safety while shooting.
After getting a shotgun, you of course need ammo to fire out of that shotgun. For most beginner-level shooters, it is recommended to start with a smaller weight shell of around 24 grams. This offers a bit less speed and power, but it reduces the amount of recoil effect on the gun, which can improve comfort and accuracy for newbies. Once you get a feel for it, you can experiment with heavier weights up to 28 grams, which offers more shot speed and power, to see which shot weight suits you best.
Ear Plugs and Ear Muffs
A good pair of ear plugs or ear muffs, or even a combination of both that some shooters prefer, is one of the most necessary pieces of equipment to participate in the sport. Good ear protection not only helps to cushion the loud noises of a shooting range on the ear, but it can also be an important piece of equipment for improving concentration of the shooter on the range by isolating the from surrounding sounds. This lets a shooter focus even more on the task at hand without distraction. A good set of passive ear muffs will do just fine, but more technological versions that have a decibel threshold are becoming a popular option in modern day shooting.
While not a necessary piece of equipment, gloves are a great piece of equipment to ensure you are being as safe as possible when shooting your gun. Not only do they improve grip and reduce sweat, but they also protect your hand from direct contact against the gun, which helps prevent blisters. If you find yourself shooting a lot, you should consider investing in a pair of shooting gloves.
Depending on the local laws of where you live, this may be the very first thing you need to get before even considering visiting a range or buying your own gun. In many places, a valid shotgun license is required to even buy ammo or visit a shooting range. If you are wanting to get started in the sport soon, it is recommended that you apply for your license as fast as possible, as they can often take a while to be sent to you. If you live in a place where this is necessary, licensing is usually handled by a division within your local police department.
Carrying all of your equipment by hand through the course can be a difficult task, and it can greatly slow down your day of shooting. Thankfully, a range bag can easily solve this issue. A range bag allows for a shooter to easily and conveniently transport their items from station to station while keeping everything nice and organized.
As a shooter, you will be expected to pick up all of your own shells off of the range before continuing on to the next station or round of competition. This can be a slow and menial task that many shooters like to get done as fast and easily as possible. A shell catcher helps accomplish exactly this. Often either looking like a small pouch or metal slide that attaches to where the shells eject from, a shell catcher catches your shells as they are fired, so you never have to bend down to pick them up again!
This is a simple piece of equipment that ensures that you are never out of arm's reach of having more ammo. While you will carry more ammo on your person in your shooting vest already, it never hurts to have more ammo readily available, and this is what a shooting pouch is for. It allows you to easily carry a whole box of shells (and often a bit more) from station to station as you make your way through the shooting range.
When preparing for the shooting ranges, there is no one specific type of shoe that one must wear; however, there are a few common sense options that will improve any day on the range. Since you are on your feet and moving a lot when participating in clay pigeon shooting, comfort and stability is a must. It is recommended that a shooter wear a good pair of sneakers or walking boots with a good sole in warmer and more temperate weather.
Appropriate eyewear is another one of the most important pieces of equipment to make sure you have before hitting the range, and it's not just about looking cool! Shooting glasses are like security guards for your eyes, protecting them from accidental impacts from gun residue when firing or even a wild shell. They are purposefully designed to not hinder your aim when shooting. With a small side rail and a pronounced nose pad, these glasses sit further up on the face than regular glasses so as to not be a distraction or in the way when in the middle of a shoot. They tend to be extremely lightweight for comfort and relatively unbreakable in most cases. For a little extra protection and concentration, some shooters modify their glasses with blinders on the side, blocking out their peripheral vision, ensuring that they give their full focus to the competition in front of them. Different color lenses are good for different shooting conditions, but a good rule of thumb for beginners is to use the lightest tint you are able to wear without squinting from the sun.
This is a relatively simple item, and it is not necessary, but a good hat when shooting can improve your comfort and aim, as it keeps the light of the sun out of your eyes and off your face when on the range. Visors tend to be a very popular choice because of their breathability, comfort, and weight, but as long as the bill is long enough to keep your eyes out of the sunlight, you should be fine with your preferred style if you choose to wear one.
The shooting vest is another basic piece of clothing many shooters find to be an absolute must to jump into the world of clay pigeon shooting on a range. The vest identifies you as a competitor, but its main use is in its ability to hold extra ammo on your body. The vests are lightweight and breathable so as to not hinder mobility and comfort of the shooter. Shooting vests also tend to have a small layer of padding in the shoulder areas where the gun rests while shooting, offering a bit of protection from the kick of the weapon.
There are many separate disciplines of clay pigeon shooting to compete in, and each style has certain specialized shotguns that are specifically tailored for that competition. This can make choosing a shotgun a not-so-straightforward task for more seasoned competitors. However, for beginners just starting out, and not sure what discipline they may prefer to compete in, it is recommended to buy a good second-hand shotgun that is relatively "generic" enough to allow the shooter to try out multiple disciplines and decide where they would like to focus before opting for buy a more expensive and specialized shotgun. If you intend to only practice clay pigeon shooting occasionally, or if your main goal is to refine your shooting ability rather than compete, it may never be necessary for you to buy a high performance shotgun. Once you choose a discipline and shotgun, it may also be necessary for you to adjust your shotgun's stock to your body to achieve the optimal shooting performance that you are capable of.