By Steve Schafer
For those who want to have a fun time with friends, learn a lot and become better wing shooters, it’s time to give sporting clays a try.
Sporting clays is a great pastime for amateur or experienced shooters and has become an extremely popular shooting sport worldwide. Courses are laid out much like golf courses, utilizing woods, ponds, open fields and various terrains to create a precise maze of shooting opportunities.
Each “station” on a range can propel clay targets from a number of angles, heights and speeds. This simulates actual hunting scenarios not found in any other clay target shooting.
Also, various stations are laid out strategically to allow shooters to enjoy the entire outdoor experience. The beauty of the sporting clays range is that it doesn’t change a lot in the environment. Wildlife adapts quickly and adjusts to the human activity and the actual discharge of the shotguns. It’s not uncommon to see various forms of wildlife while shooting a round of clays. Further, the clay targets are biodegradable and do not harm the environment.
Some of the basic necessities for shooting are eye and ear protection, a shotgun and shells. Other options include a padded shooting vest, shell bag and belt, shooting gloves, additional barrel chokes, and perhaps a golf-cart for transport throughout the course.
For beginners, instructors and almost every item a shooter might require are available at most locations.
A trapper will be assigned to each shooting group or to an individual and will guide the shooters through the course, explaining the shots at each station and pulling the “birds” as they are requested. The “bird” is a clay disc that is catapulted into the air or across the ground at the shooter’s command. When shooters say “pull,” the trapper will push an electric button or a spring release to send the target on its way.
Singles are when only one bird is sent, while simo pairs are two birds launched at the same time. Report pairs are when a shooter fires at one bird and another is immediately sent. These various shot scenarios make for some very exciting shooting.
Shooters will learn the necessity of a consistent gun mount when they bring the stock to their cheeks. The result will be a smoother swing, free of jerking or snapping. Also, a shooter’s body and foot positioning will help to improve his or her shooting.
A 50-bird round normally costs $15-18, while a 100- bird round is approximately $30-35.
To experience sporting clays without shooting an entire course or to just observe the action, many operations have a five-stand, which is a five-station, centrally located practice-shooting course that will give beginner shooters a sample of what to expect. It is convenient to the course office and requires minimal walking.
For shooters who would like to improve their wing-shooting skills, or who just want to enjoy an entertaining experience, consider giving sporting clays a try.
It’s a fun game that provides plenty of exercise and that improves hand-eye coordination and balance.
Sporting Clay Courses
The following is a listing of some of the more popular courses and their phone numbers:
• J&P Sporting Clays, 410-438-3832
• Hopkin’s Game Farm and Sporting Clays, 410-348-5287
• Pintail Point Farms, 410-827-7029
• Prince Georges Trap and Skeet, 301-577-7178
• Schrader’s Sporting Clays, 410-758-1824
With the exception of the Prince Georges course, these courses are located on the Eastern Shore and are only about 40 minutes from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The Prince Georges’ course is wheelchair accessible.
Issue 1.18: Aug. 24, 2006