Can Shooting Clays Improve Your Defensive Shotgun Skills?

BY Herschel Smith
1 month, 1 week ago

Shooting Illustrated.

Before I get into it, allow me the following disclaimer: Tactical gurus abound who discount any notion that clay-target shooting can be compared in any way to the act of using a shotgun to defend your life. I do not argue that the two uses are, of course, night-and-day different. But, in my view, the shotgun and the fundamentals of using it to hit whatever you are shooting at are inherently similar. Certainly, the pressure placed upon the shooter in a life-or-death situation compared with a silly clay game is not remotely similar, but if a shotgunner can consistently flip the safety, mount the gun smoothly and orient the barrel quickly and accurately enough to hit small flying objects, nearly any target encountered in any situation will likely be easier.

In other words, I’ve never witnessed a great wingshooter who couldn’t quickly be trained in tactical applications, because this person already has the fundamentals of shotgun shooting mastered. Of course, there are differences in technique—the main ones being stance and weight distribution—but these can be quickly learned. The shotgun, whether a Remington 870 pump with a short barrel and an extended magazine or a 32-inch-barreled over/under clays gun, remains similar in form, and, when used as intended, functions as an extension of the body to hit targets. Of course, in a defensive scenario you will need to aim the shotgun at the target in a manner similar to a handgun or rifle, whereas when shooting clays you move with the target and lead it, but ask yourself, which is harder: aiming at a stationary or slow-moving target a few feet or yards in front of you, or a fast-moving, small target flying on a path designed to be challenging?

On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of decent tactical shotgunners who couldn’t use their shotgun well when they were removed from a static range with stationary targets and placed in more fluid scenarios where unpredictable, moving targets were encountered. Based on my experience, I believe it’s best to master the shotgun via practice until it can be effectively used at an almost subconscious level. One efficient way I’ve found to do this is via clay games that are challenging, yet enjoyable.

First of all, I don’t listen to “tactical gurus.” I have absolutely no use for such people.

Second, more shotgunning is better because shotgunning. Just because.

Enough said.

Go get some. Head to the range. Hunting upland birds is an awesome sport, as is just shooting clays of any sort, including unorganized practice if that’s what you like. Hunting quail is the most fun you’ll ever have.

And not only that, but we’ve also discussed chokes that will give 00 buckshot a pattern within 5 inches at 50 yards. What’s not to love about shotguns?


Comments

  1. On June 12, 2024 at 4:03 am, jrg said:

    I think your logic is sound. Any practice with moving targets builds ‘muscle memory’ of mounting shotgun to shoulder as quickly as possible to make the shot. Especially when the target is moving with faster speed requiring faster decisions made.

  2. On June 12, 2024 at 11:19 am, Joe Blow said:

    Any practice with a firearm, including dry-techniques, will improve your proficiency.

    Shooting at fast-moving clay frisbee’s FORCES you to learn to shoot by intuition, and not aiming down the barrel with one eye closed. Of course that could improve self-defensive use of shotgun.

  3. On June 12, 2024 at 12:27 pm, MN Steel said:

    I grew up shooting clays with a 20 ga New Haven pump with a full choke, shooting a 22 average. That is fun and a great skill, hunting grouse and woodcock WILL make someone a snapshooter or leave them hungry.

    Much like square-range and KD shooting are different from the tactical handgun games and PRS shooting, doing it live in the woods after live game trains your brain and body to a level well above the other games, as there is a definitive prize for “winning” this game.

    I’ve also been trained for the most dangerpus game but haven’t seen the elephant, so can’t comment on shooting at a something that shoots back, but getting a fast accruate shot off quickly would seem to be a bonus.

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You are currently reading "Can Shooting Clays Improve Your Defensive Shotgun Skills?", entry #36701 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published June 11th, 2024 by Herschel Smith.

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