I am a fairly new sporting clays shooter. I hear people talk about different techniques for breaking targets. Why do I need to use different techniques?
Sporting clays and other clay target sports evolved from bird hunting. Most live birds are engaged in mid-flight. In the early years of sporting clays, the trajectories and behavior of airborne clay targets were designed to mimic that of birds in flight. Arguably, a bird hunter needs only one or two “moves” or techniques to down most birds in flight. As our sport has evolved, so has throwing machine technology and the sophistication of target setters. Targets that curl, curve and transition have become common.
A target thrown from a machine is decreasing in velocity from the moment it leaves the trap, while live birds are either maintaining or increasing in speed as they are engaged. These factors create the need for techniques that differ from swing-though, pull-away and maintained lead. That is not to say that these three techniques are obsolete. On the contrary, these remain our most effective strokes for engaging many types of targets, whether clay or bird.
But consider a crossing target that is thrown from a trap with very light spring, located to the right side of your shooting stand at a distance of about 35 yards. This target starts to transition from the moment it separates from the trap arm and, at the break point, is falling off its line and decreasing in speed. On this type of target, I like to use a hold point closer to the break point with a lower muzzle angle, allowing the target to close the gap between the muzzle and the target. I call this a “cut-off and collapse.” Some also refer to this technique as an “intercept.”
Yep, this subject is further confused by different shooters and instructors using different terms for the same technique. For target presentations that prove challenging for you, be open to discovering and perfecting different techniques. Remember, the best technique for you is the one that breaks the target.