What is clay target ediquette and why is it so important while at the range?
Off season shooting is the best way to not only improve your shot, but your wing shooting.Why is practicing so important? It can mean the difference between a clean kill and a crippled bird. But it can also be a great time to bond with your hunting buddies and meet new hunters, but having proper etiquette is important for a few reasons. Here are some tips to help on proper range etiquette.
In the world of clays the 3 most common games are trap, skeet, and sporting clays. The basic rules that apply to all three are very easy. If you are not actively at a station you MUST have a visibly unloaded gun. If you have a pump or Semi auto this means having a open bolt action. If you are shooting a over under or side by side the action MUST be broken open. Once you are at your station and ready to call for a bird you can load your gun with the proper number of rounds.
THE GAME OF TRAP
In the game of trap, shooters want to keep the rhythm of the squad going. If you are sluggish to ready yourself or always questioning the scoring, chances are your other shooters will not be happy. Being attentive is very important. When you are at your station, watch the shooter that is 2 positions ahead of you. When they call for their bird this is the time to load your gun. When the shooter just before you calls for their bird this is the time to shoulder your gun and be ready to call for your bird after they shoot theirs.
Each station you shoot from will be 5 fired rounds. When moving from station to station, do not stop to pick up shells unless the other shooters are. Also check with the range on their policy. Some ranges will NOT let you pick up spent shells once they hit the ground. In this case you must provide a catch net for your gun so your spent shells never hit the ground.
It's important to keep the squad moving during your round, but it is more important to NOT MOVE while other are shooting. You should also refrain from talking too loud so you are not a distraction to other shooters.
THE GAME OF SKEET
Skeet will require 25 shells, but bring extras. If you break a doubles presentation with one shot you will have to shoot it over. If you have to go get more shells to finish up your round it will irritate the other shooters. REMEMBER, keep the game moving.
When a shooter is at a station do not crowd him. The only person that should be within 10ft of the shooter is the thrower. When its your turn to shoot make sure you do not make any nosies while you ready yourself. It is generally accepted that the thrower will release the target at the first sound you make. DON'T TALK IF YOU ARE NOT READY!
When you are shooting a single target, only load 1 shell into the gun. When shooting a double only load 2 shells into the gun. Loading more shells than the number of targets you are shooting can be disconcerting to the other hunters, and could lead to a possible accidental discharge.
THE GAME OF SPORTING CLAYS
Unlike trap and skeet, the shooter at each new station has the right to call for the target to "see" it without shooting. IF A SHOOTER FORGETS YOU CAN REMIND HIM. This is only a option, it is not required, but it gives the entire squad to see the targets. You can stand by the shooter to get a better look at the target, but after that DO NOT CROWD HIM. If you need another look do it while they shoot, from a safe distance behind the shooter. This scenario applies mostly to a walking course that has only one cage at each station.
If you need to change chokes before shooting, do it BEFORE stepping into the cage. As in skeet make sure you have enough shells to account for targets being broken by pieces of the shot target. If this happens on a double you WILL have to reshoot that round again.
Shooting clays in the off season is the best way to improve your shooting. But the most important thing is to make sure that you keep the game moving. Make sure your gun is clean and functioning, you have shells that will work (this seems silly, but I have shot with someone before that had very old shells), you have the proper safety equipment, and follow the etiquette for shooting. It will improve your, and others experience.