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Clay pigeon shooting

Swing the barrel, get the disc in sight and put your target shooting skills to the test.

What to expect

Clay pigeon shooting is the sport of shooting flying targets with shotguns. The targets are called ‘clays’, which are round (not pigeon-shaped) and break apart when hit. Unlike a rifle that fires a single shot, shotguns fire cartridges holding around 300 small pellets that fly towards the target in a small cloud or ‘pattern’ when you pull the trigger. With so many pellets, you might think you can’t miss, but it’s not as easy as it sounds! The clay will probably appear from behind bushes or a mound, launched from a device called the ‘trap’. There’s a lot of empty space around that clay, so you’ll need all your skill to get a hit.

What you’ll learn

To get a shot on target in clay pigeon shooting, you’ll need skill, timing and hand-eye coordination. Like other shooting activities, clay shooting helps everyone learn to persevere more and stay focused. Practising in this way helps improve shooting technique too. Anyone taking part will also learn and apply the necessary safety rules, control and discipline of the sport too. It’s easy for everyone to enjoy clay shooting at any level, from taster sessions at local clubs to national or international competition.

Fun facts

  • Cricket balls, stones and even potatoes were used as targets before the invention of clay targets.
  • The Inanimate Bird Shooting Association held their first championship in London in 1893. Forty-four people entered with the goal of shooting as many objects out of 10 and the winner, Mr Frank Izzard, hit nine out of the 10.
  • US shooter Tyler Leinbach holds the record for the fastest time to shoot 25 clays – a staggering 24.25 seconds. That’s one every 0.97 seconds!

Handy hints

  • Just bring yourself. Wear what’s comfortable – everyday clothes are fine and you should be provided with all the equipment you’ll need.
  • Aim ahead. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how fast the clays are moving. Aim ahead of your target to take into account the time it takes for your shot to reach the clay.


You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Shooting is defined in POR 9.37
  • Shooting at targets representing humans or animals is not permitted.
  • Consider local feelings on shooting prior to planning your activity, provide parents with detailed information about the activity and parental permission is required for members under 18 taking part.
  • Transportation, storage and use of shooting equipment is detailed in POR 9.37
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
  • Acceptable instructor qualifications
    • Clay Pigeon Shooting Association - Level 1 Coach
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:
You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements :



Like other target shooting activities, clay pigeon shooting is an opportunity to persevere and pay attention to detail. Ask everyone how they found the activity. Was it anyone’s first time shooting? Did many people manage to hit the clays on their turn? It can be really frustrating if you miss the target, but everyone should have plenty of chances to try again.

Ask everyone to think about the different techniques they used to stay focused and keep their sights on target, and share them with the group. It can be hard to maintain this kind of control, especially if you’re new to the activity, but with a little perseverance you’ll get there, and trying again is a great way to learn.