Clay pigeon shooting is a shooting sport, recognized by CONI, which takes place on organized and suitable shooting ranges that are recognized by local authorities.
Based on this assumption, it is clear that those who practice this sport must be in good standing, first of all, from the bureaucratic/administrative aspect, and therefore possess all the requirements necessary by law to obtain a gun permit at least for sporting use.
This permit allows you to possess and transport guns and ammunition and register with the shooting range and, if desired, FITAV, the Italian Federation of Shooting.
It is an activity that can be carried out as a hobby, just to break the clay pigeons, or it can be transformed into a real sport that “requires” serious and constant training.
Once shooters start frequenting provincial, regional, national shooting ranges, and so on, it is assumed that they have adequate shooting equipment, that is, all the equipment that will serve not only to identify them as a shooter but also to assist them in the sport.
This equipment will initially be at the expense of those who use it, and only later, after making themselves known at the shooting range and perhaps after being able to take part in a shooting team by obtaining good placements in the competitions, can it be provided by the sponsors.
Now, let’s analyze in detail which basic equipment a shooter needs.
The shooter’s equipment
As already mentioned, the thing you need to do is obtain a gun permit for sports use issued by the local police headquarters, which allows you to possess and transport guns and ammunition.
Once this document has been obtained, you can start evaluating a whole series of more or less necessary “accessories” to carry out the sport.
It is believed that the main aspect of the “equipment” is made up of a shotgun and ammunition, and precisely because they play a fundamental role, they will be studied in detail in a paragraph that is exclusively dedicated to them below.
Shooting ear protection
Instead of clothing and accessories, those who start practicing clay pigeon shooting, even beginners, will have to have a good pair of passive earplugs or earmuffs that will cushion the noise of the shots and help the shooter to concentrate, isolating themselves from the sound of the firing of the other shooters.
Today, on the market, there are different types, from the simplest, which isolate the hearing system to the more technological and electronic ones that attenuate noises only when they perceive them as harmful, having exceeded certain decibels.
Another basic garment for this sport is the shooting vest.
It is mainly used to hold ammunition while alternating shooting stations during the series and are equipped with a lightly padded patch on the shoulder on which the stock rests. It is lightweight, so it doesn’t hinder the shooter’s movements, and resistant and breathable.
These are the first elements needed to approach this type of sport and to start getting more familiar with the guns and targets.
Later, when you have begun to practice this sport seriously, then you can slowly enrich your equipment with other accessories.
It is advisable to have a pair of dual-function shooting glasses: protecting your eyes from incandescent corpuscles or residues of dust when ejecting the ammunition fired and providing you with a better and sharper vision of the field and the targets.
These glasses are specially designed to avoid bothering the shooter when they rest their face on the stock in the shooting position. They are equipped with very pronounced nose pads that keep them raised and at a sufficient distance from the face.
They are manufactured with unbreakable material capable of resisting accidental falls or impacts caused, for example, by the expulsion of the cartridge cases. Another very important quality is their extreme lightness. Finally, some shooters mount side flaps on the temples, to avoid being distracted by lateral movements during the execution: these are real blinders.
Shooting hat and technical clothing
Another fairly common accessory among shooters is the shooting hat. Many choose it with a visor sufficiently pronounced to form a “visual cone” with the rib to help you focus on the target, and also to protect the view from light, if excessive.
Today, the use of technical clothing, consisting of polo shirts, sweaters, and t-shirts, but also trousers and shoes, is common and also widely publicized. This type of clothing is important as it helps the shooter, who, subject to the tension of training or competitions, must have the best climatic comfort while maintaining a perfect balance of body heat in any season.
In winter, in fact, you need garments that maintain the body’s heat but are not too bulky or thick on the shoulder on which the shotgun will rest.
In summer, good breathable clothing is needed to avoid excessive sweating, which could cause a loss of concentration. The choice of shoes is also relevant. Since you have to stand for a long time in this sport, it is essential to have footwear that does not cause tension in the feet or the leg muscles.
The use of gloves is necessary for a correct grip of the shotgun; these, in fact, protect your hands from contact, from rubbing with the shotgun and with the non-slip knurled parts of the barrel covers and stock. They also give you a better grip of the shotgun, avoiding sweaty hands as well as the annoying inconvenience of blisters, especially if you have delicate skin and handle a shotgun for several hours a day.
Shotguns and ammunition
The most important part of the clay pigeon shooting equipment consists of the shotgun and the ammunition that will be used in competition. These, in addition to the personal qualities of the shooter, will make a difference in the shooter’s career on the platform.
However, while the clothing remains uniform for any shooting specialty, the same cannot be said for the shotgun and ammunition.
Choosing a shotgun is not so straightforward because one should understand which discipline they would like to try from the outset. In fact, only after deciding whether to do the Olympic pit or trap (Olympic discipline), skeet (Olympic discipline), double trap (Olympic discipline), compak or sporting, you will have to find a dedicated and specialized shotgun.
All this, however, could also entail an initial expense that is not insignificant, especially if you approach beginners shooting, without even knowing the world of shotguns.
In this case, you will have to rely on people who have some experience and who, if honest, will be able to steer you gradually towards the best shotgun.
For those who approach shooting for the first time, it is advisable to buy a good second-hand shotgun that is “generic” enough to understand which discipline will best suit your aptitudes.
It is very easy to understand that if you intend to practice clay pigeon shooting only occasionally, to keep training and refine your shooting ability, it is not necessary to have a high-performance shotgun, (relative to the use of barrels and stocks); while, from the mechanical point of view, (closures, safes, etc.) it is fundamental always to demand the maximum for a matter of extreme importance, which is safety.
Once you have established which shooting specialty you prefer, pit, skeet, compak etc, you can then purchase a dedicated shotgun, which at the beginning can also be used and adapted to the needs of the shooter’s build (by length, deviation and advance, montecarlo). Moreover, only later, going ahead with the sport and making your first achievements (winning races and tournaments or obtaining good placements), it will also be possible to choose a new and dedicated shotgun that can even be supplied by the sponsors.
In this way, the shotgun, with all its wooden and metal components, becomes a necessary accessory for those who use it, especially in relation to the stock, which must be customized for the shooter.
This aspect, until some time ago, was a difficulty for shooters, especially novices. In fact, it was necessary to find a custom stock maker in the area where you lived and wait, between one test and another, to receive a custom stock.
Today, technology has met us halfway, and we can rely on products such as the Futur-K6AM, the wooden and aluminum adjustable stock by the company Futurmec Srl from Urbania, which allows you to change dimensions, folds, and advances between each test session to adapt to the shooter’s physical conformation. Moreover, its innovative patented shock absorber makes the shot much softer, as the shock reduces the recoil by 25%; a stock that can be adapted to all the disciplines that you intend to practice.
The same is also true for the barrels, which thanks to the use of internal or in/out chokes, can be adapted to different disciplines.
As far as ammunition is concerned, it is advisable to start with light weights of 24 grams to avoid an excessive recoil effect, especially at the beginning, moving only later on to heavier weights up to 28 grams.
It should be noted, however, that if you mount a stock like the Futur K6AM on your shotgun, equipped with an internal shock absorber, the recoil problem becomes secondary and, as a result, you can also opt for a choice more related to the speed of the ammunition rather than the weight of the ammunition.
We must recall that the type of ammunition must also be chosen based on the way the shooter fires and engages the target.
Only now, after being well informed, can we equip ourselves perfectly to have fun in the best way possible at the shooting ranges!