Tar­get prac­tice

We know the four ba­sic build­ing blocks for com­pe­tent shoot­ing, but how should you re­hearse them?


here are four ba­sic build­ing blocks for shot­gun com­pe­tence in clay and game shoot­ing. *Stance and bal­ance. *Gun-mount and the avoid­ance of head lift­ing.

*Gun-swing and an un­der­stand­ing of the gun and tar­get move­ment.

*Lead or for­ward al­lowance.

The best place to re­hearse and train th­ese com­pe­ten­cies is on the clay­ground and you don’t nec­es­sar­ily need sport­ing tar­gets to do it – ev­ery­thing can be prac­tised on the skeet and trap lay­outs at your lo­cal club. This can be par­tic­u­larly im­proved if you have a good coach to ad­vise you!

TDr Mal­colm Plant is chair­man of the In­sti­tute of Clay Shoot­ing

In­struc­tors and a Clay Pi­geon Shoot­ing As­so­ci­a­tion se­nior coach.


Down-the-line trap (DTL) shoot­ing will re­fine all the four build­ing blocks men­tioned above, but this clay dis­ci­pline is par­tic­u­larly use­ful for hon­ing the first two: stance and gun mount. I am not sug­gest­ing that you might want to ded­i­cate your­self to be­com­ing one of our lead­ing DTL or Olympic Trap shoot­ers, but the train­ing is in­for­ma­tive, and great fun. That said, qual­ity DTL shoot­ing needs to be dis­ci­plined and pre­cise, with a con­sid­er­able amount of men­tal fo­cus. Un­less you con­sis­tently get your feet in the right po­si­tion, you will not be able to re­li­ably cover the sky down-range with your gun, and out in front.

Fur­ther­more, free­dom of swift, but smooth, gun move­ment is crit­i­cal and very de­pen­dent on your feet and up­per body bal­ance. An easy dry-run test is to set your­self up with an empty gun ful­ly­mounted and cover the down-range sky with the gun; if any po­si­tion of swing seems in­hib­ited, ad­just your feet.


Right-handed shoot­ers should pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to pos­si­ble tar­get ar­eas out to the right be­cause this gun move­ment is rather more awk­ward. As such it will help to slightly favour this tar­get with your foot po­si­tion­ing. The re­verse ap­plies for left­ies.

A slightly weight-for­ward stance with a lit­tle more weight on the front foot (left foot for right-han­ders) is gen­er­ally pre­ferred by com­pe­tent trap shoot­ers. Adopt­ing this pos­ture helps greatly with our ba­sic

Down-the-line Down-the-line train­ing is in­for­ma­tive and great fun

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