Clay target shooting began in the 1860s as a form of live bird shooting practice. Originally, the targets were crystal balls loaded with feathers. The original form of the disc-shaped clay targets that we still use was created in the 1880s. Originally, they were crafted from clay and heated in a kiln. Our targets today come in a range of sizes and colors and are made of a lime and pitch mixture.The best clay targets allow you to create a project without using any tools, and they’re easy to make. You can use them for outdoor crafts, such as making animal shapes or creating decorative designs with color. The possibilities are endless.
There are several types of clay targets available, which vary in size, shape, and construction material. This guide focuses on the features that shoppers will want to consider when looking for the best clay target, including durability, ease of use, and creative options.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Clay Target
When shopping for a clay target, there are several factors worth considering. The following section will outline those considerations and help you find the best clay target for your needs.
Clay targets can be used in various ways. Some people use them as an alternative to traditional archery practice. Others enjoy using them for competition or recreation. Here’s how these different types of clay targets stack up against one another.
- Traditional Archery Practice: This type of clay target is designed with an upright shape that stands vertically while resting on the ground. It has a broad base that supports its weight when placed on uneven terrain. These large targets are made from heavy materials like steel so they’ll stand firm even when heavily loaded with arrows.
- Competition/Recreation: In this case, the goal is to hit the target as close to the center as possible. For that reason, many clay targets have a centered hole rather than an edge-triggered pattern. They’re lightweight and portable, making them easy to carry around during hunting or fishing trips.
- Artistic Expression: With artistic license, clay targets can allow the user to show off their creative side. Many artists create whimsical figures by twisting and turning arms and legs. Other times, artisans make detailed replicas of animals and nature scenes.
Size and Weight
The size and weight of the clay target will affect its portability and ease of use. A larger target means a heavier item, which could make carrying or shooting it more difficult. Smaller targets tend to be lighter, though they may lack durability.
Also consider whether you intend to use the clay target often enough to justify buying a new one every time. If you only plan on firing at it once a year, then a smaller model might work better financially.
It is crucial that you ALWAYS put on the proper hearing and eye protection. All firearms should be handled as if they were loaded, but it’s crucial to keep your weapon unloaded until you’re ready to fire. When using clay targets make sure your weapon is unloaded before crossing any kind of ditch, fence, creek, etc. Additionally, you should never point your pistol at anything you do not intend to shoot and maintain the muzzle always pointing downward until you are ready to fire.
Everything is improved with practice. Even the best images will exhibit this. Make it a regular habit to perform 10 practice swings or mounts. Practice mounting the pistol from the same spot on your face to ensure that you never mount it to your shoulder. Do this in front of a mirror. Focus on developing a smooth swing and follow through while you maintain a narrow stance.
Like most weapons, clay guns come in various materials. Steel is the predominant material used today; however, some manufacturers do add a bit of titanium to increase the gun’s strength. Titanium does not rust, but instead forms an alloy that resists corrosion and increases the target’s density. This makes the bullet sink faster through flesh, bone, and wood, increasing the effectiveness of the shot.
Some clay guns feature a fiberglass cylinder that replaces the metal barrel found on other models. Fiberglass weighs less than aluminum and offers similar performance characteristics, but it doesn’t hold up well in high temperatures.
There are two main styles of clay guns: single action and double action.
- Single Action: As the name suggests, this style of clay gun requires one full pull of the trigger to fire a round. This design works great for short bursts, but it tends to wear out quickly if fired continuously. Single-action triggers also require a lot of force to engage, which could cause issues if the shooter has a wrist injury.
- Double Action: Rather than pulling the trigger all the way back and letting go, double-action triggers have a small gap between the thumb and forefinger where the pressure is released. This allows for a smoother shoot, though it takes longer to get the result because you need to apply pressure twice before releasing the trigger.
While looking for a clay target, keep an eye out for features such as these:
- A sling mount allows the user to attach the clay gun to their shoulder without holding it directly.
- A telescoping stock lets the user extend the length of the handle beyond what would normally be comfortable to grip.
- A light allows the user to see clearly in dim lighting conditions.
- Weight adjustment enables the user to fine-tune the balance of the gun.
Types Of Clay Targets
Clay targets are designed for different purposes. Some are meant to be shot at a range, while others are intended for use in practice sessions or competitions.
The first thing you need to know is how far you want to shoot your targets. The answer will determine which type of rangefinder and scope you should get. There are three common ranges used by shooters: close (10 meters or less), intermediate (25-meter mark) and long ( gt;35 meters). Each has its advantages and disadvantages that we’ll go over below.
Once you have determined the best range for yourself, it’s time to pick out some targets. Shooting ranges typically come with several paper or plastic targets that can be placed anywhere on the range. You may also see small boxes filled with sand or gravel. These make excellent backstops for your rifle because they’re very stable and won’t move even if you miss. If you choose to use these as well, remember that you’ll need to dig them out after each round. This isn’t ideal since you’ll fill up all the space quickly and you’ll have to keep unloading and reloading.
If you plan on using decoys, there are two types of launchers available. One uses high explosives to launch the decoys, while the other uses gravity to drop the decoys from above. Both work similarly but the former takes more effort to set up.
Airborne decoys are deployed from an airplane. They fly over the area where you want the decoys to appear and then release their parachutes. Once the chute opens, the decoy floats down under its own power until it hits something solid like dirt or water. It doesn’t require any batteries or fuel; just lots of luck! This method works best when the wind is blowing towards where you want the decoys to land.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We started by searching for the best-rated and most popular brands available. We limited our search to products that were designed specifically for use in a shooting range, as opposed to using a piece of equipment in another way.
To make sure we didn’t miss out on current trends, we also included items from reputable companies who have been around since 1991. In addition, we read through customer reviews to see what people are saying about these brands and their products. Customer satisfaction is important to us, so if there’s one thing we learned from all this research it’s that you should always choose a product from a brand that values its customers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Clay Targets
How do you aim a clay target?
First, determine where in the scope ring your eye is looking. Next, use the included base plate to adjust the elevation and windage of the barrel.
What size should my clay target be?
This depends entirely on what kind of shooting you plan to do. For informal practice, go with something small that won’t break too easily. If you’re training for a match, go with something as close to regulation as possible (typically around 10 inches in diameter). Anything larger than that will make it easier for more experienced shooters to zero the scale properly before the match.
Are there any safety concerns when using clay targets?
Yes, but nothing serious. The most important thing is proper gun handling practices. Make sure you wear eye protection if you are firing at all moving objects. Also, ensure you keep your finger away from the trigger while loading/unloading ammo or changing magazines. These simple precautions can prevent accidents.