Sporting clay targets provide enjoyment for the expert and beginner alike, but for the latter, Skeet shooting – in the form devised by the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) in this country or the National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA) in America – is still hard to beat. Why? Well, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a constant variation of range and angle but none is too difficult. Secondly, a missed target, if practising with a friend, is easily repeatable. And, most importantly for the beginner, whether in practice or competition, progress is easily measured because the target’s flight remains constant.
This is a selection of Skeet cartridges from six outstanding manufacturers and if, as a beginner or expert, you miss the odd target, I can guarantee that you won’t be able to blame the ammunition.
1. CLEVER GRAND ITALIA
Established in the 1950s Clever cartridges have gained an enviable reputation at the highest levels of Skeet shooting. Clever loads have won seven Olympic gold medals between 1960 and 2016. Skeet champions who choose Clever cartridges include Italy’s Chiara Cainero and Diana Bacosi, Valeriy Shomin of Russia and Sweden’s Tore Brovold.
Available in fibre wad 28g 9.5, £214 per 1,000.
2. CLEVER COMPETITION
Among Italian clay target shooters who shoot a great deal and look for a value-for-money cartridge, Clever Competition is legend. A cartridge with ballistics that can cope with Olympic disciplines Trap and Skeet, as well as Double Trap, this famous maker’s expertise is built into all three individual loads. Available in plastic wad 24 and 28g 9.5, £204-£206 per 1,000.
3. HULL CARTRIDGE PRO ONE
A superb clay target load from this famous British manufacturer, which has just celebrated its 70th birthday. As a Skeet cartridge, Pro One has few rivals for consistent performance and, most importantly, the plate reveals excellent patterns at Skeet ranges.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 24 and 28g 7, 7.5, 8 and 9, £238-£241 per 1,000.
4. HULL CARTRIDGE COMP X
A previous winner of the Clay Cartridge of the Year award, Comp X provides performance with an unbeatable price/quality equation. With a combination of speed and moderate recoil, Comp X is an all-day load that breaks targets, not the bank.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 21 and 28g 7.5 and 9, £182-£205 per 1,000.
5. ELEY SUPERB
With a shot load that incorporates 5% antimony, the pellets keep their shape down the barrel and out to the target. Without pellet deformation, an effective pattern is maintained, which is particularly important in open-bored Skeet guns. In a game like Skeet, when every pellet counts, this cartridge is indeed superb.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 28g 7, 7.5, 8 and 9, £231-£238 per 1,000.
6. ELEY SELECT
An excellent choice for the clubman Skeet shooter who wants both performance and value. The pattern plate revealed good pellet distribution, demonstrating there is much to be said for fibre wadding at Skeet ranges.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 22, 24 and 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £179.75-£198 per 1,000.
7. FIOCCHI TT2 SKEET
An excellent-quality Skeet load from this famous Italian maker, the samples I tested were 24g loads with 9.5mm shot size. For the Skeet shooter with ambitions directed towards the Olympic form of Skeet, he or she could hardly do better than this fast, consistent cartridge.
Available in plastic wad 24g 9.5, £187 per 1,000.
8. FIOCCHI OFFICIAL SKEET
For Skeet shooters who aspire to excellence this cartridge is a good choice, and the fact that
it’s the preferred load of Italy’s team members rather says it all. It’s made from quality component parts that are carefully matched. From your local club to the Olympic podium is a long way, but this cartridge will get you there if you are good enough.
Available in plastic wad 24g 9.5, £212 per 1,000. 9. GAMEBORE EVO A Skeet cartridge that combines high quality with moderate prices, Evo competition loads are excellent value for money. The Skeet load with no.9 shot is a winner at any level.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 21, 24 and 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £197-£221 per 1,000. 10. GAMEBORE BLUE DIAMOND For those who shoot a lot of Skeet targets, this cartridge ensures it’s all pleasure and no pain. Incorporating the Baschieri & Pellagri Gordon recoil-reduction wad system, it’s a hard-hitting cartridge that doesn’t punish your shoulder.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 24 and 28g, 7.5, 8, 9, £216-£240 per 1,000. 11. LYALVALE EXPRESS POWER BLUE A hard-hitting clay target load that’s easy on your pocket. This budget-priced cartridge with no.9 shot will take you round the Skeet layout at minimum cost and with maximum success. The latest powder developed by the Nobel Group combined with a fibre wad provides an extremely efficient load.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £201-£210 per 1,000. 12. LYALVALE EXPRESS POWER GOLD A cartridge that has quickly gained a reputation as a premium load at reasonable cost. In Skeet mode, it provides good downrange speed with minimum recoil and well-distributed patterns. If Power Gold is already good news for Sporting shooters, with no.9 shot, now Skeet shooters can also benefit from its excellent performance.
Available in fibre and plastic wads 24 and 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £218-£233 per 1,000.