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    • Crushed by crossers or daunted by ducks? Beat every presentation with our guide to all the Sporting targets you’ll ever encounter

      1. Incoming

      Chances are you started your shooting career engaging these – probably with an easy close-range target. But as the distance increases, so does the difficulty. Irrespective of distance, the technique is beautifully simple. The quick fix to any problems you’re having is to cut down on excess movement.

      Kill point

      Select this before you do anything else. If you can see it at the peak of its trajectory, this will be where you shoot it. Here the bird has little speed, and essentially it is a zero-angle target, meaning the lead required will be minimal.

      Stance

      Try starting this one gun-down to increase your vision around your barrels and help judge exactly the right point to shoot the target. With the gun out of the shoulder, you can let your eyes drift back towards the trap and have lots of time to visually lock on to the bird without the gun getting in the way.

      The shot

      As the target approaches your hold point, slowly start to mount the gun, matching the speed of the clay over its last few metres of flight before it reaches its peak. As it settles for that split second before accelerating back to earth, lock on to the bottom edge and pull the trigger.

      Still Missing?

      Work on your barrel awareness. You may not actually be shooting at the bird, but underneath it. It’s a rare kind of target in that you can think of it like a rifle shot.

      2. Going Away

      The target that comes from behind doesn’t get presented that often, so it tends to cause problems when it does. Maintained lead works consistently for this target, avoiding having to accelerate the gun downwards and obscure the target.

      Stance

      The main thing is to choose your kill point and stick to it. Pick a stance that is comfortable and balanced at this point. To an extent, it doesn’t matter where that kill point actually is – though shooting them early to maximise the available surface area isn’t a bad idea. In addition, try taking your head off the stock once you’ve mounted, to give you a larger field of view.

      Hold point

      This should only be about a third of the way back towards the trap. You want as much space as possible for your eyes to lock on to the target and for you to watch the bird come to your barrels. If you don’t get a good visual hold, the rest of the shot will fail.

      The shot

      Once your eyes have locked on, bring your head to the gun while still looking at the bird. Your barrels will be well beneath the clay; as the clay approaches, slowly move away, holding beneath the target and firing as you reach your determined kill point. Don’t be afraid to get a few feet underneath if it’s a fast one. You should minimise your gun movement; you want to feel as if you’ve got all the time in the world.

      Still Missing?

      Losing the target under your gun? The hold point is probably too close to the trap. Missing over the top? The lead you need might be a bit larger than you expect, as you’re shooting with a slow gun.

      3. High Crossers

      Variations on this target are endless: long, slow, fast, diving, climbing, curling. So limiting yourself to one method isn’t going to work – you need to be flexible to avoid getting caught out. As a general rule, pull away if it’s curling, and use maintained lead if it’s straighter.

      Kill point

      Your first step to beating a crosser is to choose the point on its path where it looks the most breakable. This is a combination of where the line is straightest, the target is showing the most surface area, and how far it is from the shooting position. Working out exactly what this bird is doing at the kill point is a big part of beating it.

      Stance

      Set up your feet allowing you to not only reach your kill point, but to follow through once you’ve pulled the trigger. You don’t want to stop the gun and lose all the lead you’ve built up. Wind back about halfway to the trap to reach your hold point.

      The shot

      Watch the target approach your gun and move slowly. You want to essentially match its speed, allowing you to hold lead in front of the bird, and fire as it reaches the kill point.

      Still Missing?

      It can be easy to underestimate the speed of a crosser. Try following it with your finger to get a better reading. And remember, they don’t only cross – they will drop after a while.

      4. Droppers

      You will not be presented with a true dropping clay regularly, and as such, a lot of people aren’t particularly proficient at it. But it’s a skill worth having for simo pairs or wind-affected teal. Try the maintained lead strategy.

      Kill point

      Commit to shooting on the drop – take it late. Give yourself as much time as possible to read the target, and let its line straighten towards the ground, removing any need for lateral lead. Make a reference point in the background for height so you can have the same kill point every time.

      Stance

      Take the gun out of your shoulder and move up to your hold point. This will be where the target reaches its peak before dropping back down. Gun down will give you better vision around the gun and help prevent rushing.

      The shot

      Estimate the amount of lead it will take to break the bird, and start your gun with this level of lead when the target peaks. Hold this lead all the way down to the kill point. During this phase of holding the lead, your brain will be making the necessary tiny adjustments to the picture for lead and line without you realising it.

      Still Missing?

      Really take your time when reading the target before you step into the cage, paying particular attention to the speed and angle of the drop. All this can drastically affect the sight picture.

      5. Rising Loopers

      Another target with a huge degree of variation, the many looping presentations you get have three stages in common: the initial rise, the peak, then the drop. You need to be able to hit the target in all three stages.

      Kill point

      In an ideal world you’ll shoot the target at its peak, as it’s the easiest place to connect. But the target setter will often force you to take the shot elsewhere. In that case, try to get it on the way up. It’s under power so will be moving quickly, but the advantage to this is that the line is usually pretty straight, so you can attack it with a short pull-away move.

      Stance

      Shoot this target gun-down to give greater vision around and below the gun. Set up to be comfortable at the kill point, allowing room with your feet for a short follow-through, and wind back about a third of the way towards the trap.

      The shot

      Watch the target come to your gun, and connect with it briefly before accelerating through the line. The lead can vary massively, but remember a rising target is under power, so don’t be afraid to push out into the daylight.

      Still Missing?

      Forget the fact that it’s a looper. Treat it as a straight climbing target and simply push through without worrying about compound lead.

      6. Springing teal

      Atrue teal is almost vertical but slightly angled away from the shooter, and doesn’t hang at the peak. This means you need to be able to shoot it aggressively on the climb, not rifle-shoot it at the top.

      Lead

      Though the method of applying lead will be the same for all teal, the exact amount of swing-through will vary depending on the speed and severity of its angle. Essentially the bigger and faster the target, the more gun speed is required. This is generated by starting progressively closer to the trap.

      Have a look at the diagram here – it’s got three different hold points on it. Point 1 is where you should be for fast or steep teal that will take a lot of gun speed; point 2 for average teal; and point 3 for slow or shallow teal.

      Stance

      Set yourself up with a comfortable stance that allows you to continue your swing from the hold point to just past the kill point without the need to rock on to the back foot, which might cause your head to lift and miss high. Let your eyes soft-focus in the patch of sky immediately above your barrels.

      The shot

      Don’t move until you clearly see the target pass above your barrels. Accelerate through the line of the target, catching up to and passing the bird, squeezing the trigger when your gun moves beyond the clay.

      Still Missing?

      7. High tower driven

      A classic driven bird from a tower will almost always face on, with the underside of the clay facing you. This means it takes relatively little energy to break it.

      Stance

      Your feet need to be shoulder-width apart, with your weight distributed 50/50 between them, as opposed to the more regular weight-forward stance. This gives you more movement as your barrels approach vertical, which is where stopping the gun becomes an issue leading to a miss behind.

      This is also a target to shoot gun-down. You need to be moving fluidly throughout, and this really helps – plus it increases your peripheral vision, which is vital on this shot.

      Hold point

      To make sure the target is in view over the gun for as much time as possible, you need to start with a hold point much closer to the trap than feels natural. You can even start with the gun just over the trap (assuming it is visible). The target will beat the gun at the start of the shot, but that’s fine – you want to be chasing the target from behind.

      Kill point

      Let the target get as close to you as possible – resist the temptation to attack it too early. As the bird approaches the ‘12 o’clock point’ directly above you, try to take it at 11 o’clock. This still gives room for that all-important follow through.

      The shot

      Allow the target to carry on past your gun. It is common for people to get in front of the target too early – make a point of letting it beat your gun by what feels like far too much. Wait until the bird is approximately halfway between the trap and the chosen kill point. Giving the bird this head start is vital – try to get into it too soon and chances are you will miss.

      Slowly mount the gun, which at this point is still a fair way behind the target. As the bird approaches the kill point, accelerate and catch the target just as it gets to the kill point. Don’t forget to keep moving the gun as you fire.

      Still Missing?

      Stop and think: can you see the target at the point of taking the shot? If so, you have stopped the gun and missed behind. Keep pushing through the shot.

      8. Rabbits

      The rabbit clay is much thicker and heavier than a standard as it has to withstand being bounced along the floor. This makes it hard to break, but also means it slows down quickly. The background whizzing past can obscure this, so be careful not to miss in front.

      Stance

      Try to put a little more weight over your front foot than normal. When shooting below eye level, it is easy to rock on to the back foot, which can lead to you missing in front.

      Within reason, the kill point is better later on, as the target will have bled off most of its speed by then. Set your feet to be able to reach this point comfortably and allow a small follow through.

      Hold point

      This will vary depending on the angle of the target, but think around halfway back to the trap for crossing bunnies, and less so (around a third of the way back) for more quartering presentations. Make sure you start just below the line of the target.

      The shot

      Call for the target and watch it approach your barrels. Start to move with the target, matching its speed with your gun. Move off the front edge as gradually as you can – if it’s moving at 20mph you want to move at 21mph – and shoot as you pass. Err on the lower side with your shot; pellets will bounce off the floor and spread out quite dramatically, increasing your chance of a hit.

      Still Missing?

      Try this: Slow your gun right down and shoot dead at it, no lead. If this doesn’t work, do the same but shut your off eye. Once you have done these two options you can go about increasing lead, but more often than not you won’t need to.

      9. Quartering Away

      The term ‘quartering’ is pretty loose. It is, in essence, an angled going-away target. It can start level with, behind, or in front of the shooter, and depending on the target setter, it might be doing several things at once.

      Stance

      Set up your feet with a slight weight-forward bias, ensuring you are comfortable just past your chosen kill point to allow for a follow through on the swing. Wind back approximately one third of the way back towards the trap, settling your gun over a physical marker in the terrain (a bush, a pile of clays, or a trap – whatever as long as you keep the same one between shots).

      Hold point

      This is the only thing that really changes between different quartering targets. It needs to be closer to the kill point for a shallower angle, and closer to the trap for a wider angle. You also need to establish a ‘visual hold point’ between your gun hold point and the trap.

      The shot

      All the fast movement should be done with your eyes, not your barrels. Visually lock on to the target, focusing hard as it approaches the hold point. As the bird passes your barrels, start a short, smooth move from behind the clay, pulling the trigger as you reach your kill point, which should tie in with you just passing the front edge of the clay.

      Still Missing?

      Too many people try to shoot these targets quickly. Take your time – if you ‘slash’ at it in a hurry, you will miss. The target will never outrun you.

      10. Battue

      A different shape of clay, this target flies differently to most others. It flies faster than a standard target, then loses momentum and plummets at a rate of knots, showing more of its face but picking up speed as it goes.

      Hold point

      This will depend on the presentation but it should be underneath the line of the bird and at the point the clay starts to open up. This could be anywhere from a quarter to two thirds of the way back to the trap. You also need a visual hold point that isn’t too close to the trap (or you won’t see the edge-on clay).

      Kill point

      The kill point will be in the latter part of the flight (at earlier stages the bird is edge-on with little surface area visible.) Plan to let the target turn and roll, shooting the bird as it picks up speed towards the ground.

      The shot

      Watch the bird come above the barrels, move with it matching the speed (staying low), then accelerate out into your lead, pulling the trigger as you reach the kill point. Battues are generally faster than a standard, so don’t be frightened to see a big gap.

      Still Missing?

      Shooting this target requires it to be obscured by the gun at the point of pulling the trigger. Resist the urge to try and see a sight picture – you must push through or you will miss below.

      This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      Crushed by crossers or daunted by ducks? Beat every presentation with our guide to all the Sporting targets you’ll ever encounter

      1. Incoming

      Chances are you started your shooting career engaging these – probably with an easy close-range target. But as the distance increases, so does the difficulty. Irrespective of distance, the technique is beautifully simple. The quick fix to any problems you’re having is to cut down on excess movement.

      Kill ... See more
      See more on line
      10 tips to solve your sporting target problems
    • Laura Strachan sat down with the mighty Ben Husthwaite to ask all those questions you wish you could…

      By the age of 14, Ben was coaching other shooters

      Ben Husthwaite is an enigma. He is the most talked-about shooter in the country. He is shrouded in gossip and controversy, and is loved and loathed in equal measure. In fact, he was the first shooter I was ever warned to stay away from. But does he deserve his label as the ‘bad boy of shooting’? Does he even care? I met up with Ben at a Caffè Nero close to Clay Shooting headquarters. He was already waiting when I arrived, sipping a cold drink, and rose as soon as he saw me. I had forgotten just how tall he was. He wouldn’t let me pay for a drink: “I can’t let a lady pay – my dad would kill me”. But the pleasantries soon faded. He told me the interview won’t go the way I want it to: “I tell it how it is – I don’t care. It’s dangerous interviewing me”. I don’t tell him that that’s what I was hoping for.

      The Background

      Ben started shooting when he was seven. His dad, Malcolm – a man he admires above all others – took him to the shooting line at a game fair. Ben was keen and showed talent. Money was scarce growing up, and to give him the funds to shoot, Ben started working three days a week at Kibworth Shooting Ground, a ground his father would later buy when he became successful. Ben’s first gun was a Miroku bought from Martin Doughty. By the age of 14, he was coaching other shooters. As a child, he idolised AJ Smith and even wrote in to Jim’ll Fix It, asking to be able to shoot with him: “Obviously now I’m glad I never heard back!”
      I ask him about the coaching he received starting out, assuming Malcolm taught him to shoot. He laughs: “I didn’t have any lessons off my dad. He’s awful!” In fact, his shooting technique came from Mickey Rouse and Stuart Clarke taking him under their wing. He took aspects of each of their styles, and amalgamated them into his own form, which is what he now teaches to others. His list of achievements would suggest that it works.

      Ben admits to ‘manipulating loopholes’ to win competitions – but says he never breaks the rules

      The Shooting

      Most shooters get ‘the bug’.They crave shooting when they’ve been away from it for a while, but not Ben: “I could never shoot again and it wouldn’t bother me. I don’t love shooting – I love winning.” This seems odd – he doesn’t keep any of his silverware. “I have loads of rugby trophies, but there are no shooting trophies in my house. I don’t need to be reminded of how good I am. I just want to progress and be better.”They are all given away – to scout groups, junior rugby clubs, and of course, his mum and dad.
      Rugby is Ben’s first love, and has always taken precedence over his shooting, with Ben missing many British Opens because they clash with rugby season.

      The Sponsorship

      The support of his sponsors is one of the things that means the most to Ben, and like most top shots, he takes it very seriously. It is 23 years since Krieghoff and Gamebore first took him on, and he has never wavered in his loyalty: “I like to think that the status quo is balanced – I give as much as I receive. I drove the Gamebore van to Budapest for them. When I go to Ulm, Dieter Krieghoff treats me like family.” Why those particular companies? “I would be using Krieghoff and Gamebore even if I weren’t sponsored by them. Gamebore might manufacture the best shells on the market, but in terms of support, they are leaders by a considerable amount. With Krieghoff, the relationship is really important – if something goes wrong, it needs sorting really quickly, and they’re great about that.”
      It’s the same with the all Ben’s sponsored kit, whether it’s Briley chokes, Pilla glasses, Musto clothing or his hearing protection: “I use the new Vario electronics.They’re the best.” The newest sponsor backing Ben is Bentley.This deal was struck at a rugby match and initially involved Ben getting a Bentley of his choice to ferry him to each event he attended; it has now developed into the 12-month use of a custom Continental, with Bentley’s CEO coming to support Ben at the British Open.

      Ben’s style previously hampered him in his shooting career – a sport known, particularly in former years, for its conservative dress codes

      The Reputation

      “I wish I’d done half the things they say I’ve done – it just makes me laugh.” Ben famously does not get on with other top shooters. There are many anecdotes bandied about shooting grounds (several by Ben himself) about mind games, back-stabbing, and general poor sportsmanship. He has a great deal of respect for Richard Faulds, but as far as some other rivals are concerned, his remarks are not complimentary – “They can go f*** themselves…” I can’t help but wonder how this atmosphere affects his shooting. “I feed off it. I cultivate it.” He continues: “Most of my Twitter followers follow me because they don’t like me. But there is no such thing as bad publicity.” There was particular ill feeling surrounding a court case that is currently adjourned, relating to a rugby-ground incident. Ben says rivals have tried to use this to undermine him, but it has done nothing but spur him on to a greater level of competitiveness. “They have unleashed the beast. They brought it on themselves.”

      The Accusations

      I have to gear myself up for this one. Ben is being open and cooperative, but it is not a pleasant subject to broach: “Ben, you know that your name is connected with cheating? A lot.” “I don’t see it as cheating. If I know the rules and the other guy doesn’t, that’s not cheating.” He says he manipulates the loopholes and doesn’t break the rules – no birds, retaking targets. It is hard to argue with the theory, however ethically grey the area. But that is not the only point of criticism. I vaguely mumble the words “referee intimidation”, expecting this to be a step too far for the accommodating Ben. Instead, he continues in his open, tell-all attitude: “It’s shooters that complain. I don’t see how you can intimidate a referee. No ref has ever complained about me.”

      Ben famously does not get on with other top shooters, there are many anecdotes bandied about shooting grounds

      The Look

      Ben is well known for his tattoos – most famously the ornate script “Successful due to fear of failure”. More recently, he has been sporting longer hair and an impressive beard. But has his look hampered him in his shooting career – a sport known, particularly in former years, for its conservative dress codes. “I remember being asked to cover up and put some proper shoes on before photos on a podium once. F*** off! It’s the shooting that matters.” As it happens, Ben lost a close friend at sea last year, and by growing the beard, and now the hair, he has raised thousands to support his friend’s children.

      The Friendships

      Being the coach to high-profile clients has its upsides. A student of his engineered one of the most meaningful moments of Ben’s life. Knowing that he had a great reverence for a particular athlete, they arranged an introduction: “Usain Bolt just picked up the phone and rang me. There are not many people I look up to, but he is definitely one of them. He asked if I’d like to go up to his house – I was like, er, yes! I was speechless.” This initial encounter turned into a friendship as the two sportsmen share a similar approach to life and sport: “People think I’m bad, but Usain is wild! That man is out of control.” Ben will be going to watch Usain compete in his final event in London.
      One of Ben’s closest friends is England flanker James Haskell. But it didn’t start out that way: “We were at a Musto sponsorship photoshoot together. I was nobody and he was a big-name rugby player, but he was an hour late. When he turned up I told him that’s not on – my time is as valuable as yours.” Later, they met up while drinking and found that they had a huge amount in common. They’ve been mates ever since.

      Ben is good friends with Usain Bolt and England flanker, James Haskell

      The Coaching

      “I am the best sporting coach. If you want to shoot sporting well, you have to come to me.“ Well, that’s pretty unambiguous. Can he back up the claim? “I’ve been there and done it as a Senior and a Junior. I have experience of shooting at every level… I have experience of living at every level. I can teach a builder; I can teach the CEO of Lloyds – and I do. It’s about being able to engage with everybody.” I ask him who he’s most proud of. “All of them! Obviously Inna Alexandrov just performed brilliantly at the Fitasc Worlds, Rebecka Bergkvist before that… Kate Brown is the best lady shooter that ever lived.”I’m noticing a pattern here, and I’m aware of another aspect of Ben’s reputation – “Any male names I can drop in, Ben?” He laughs: “Um, yeah, let me think… yeah. Joshua Brown. He’s doing really well. I sponsor him. His father passed away so I don’t charge him for lessons. Also Brian DuQuesnay, he’s like a second dad to me.” No, I’m not asking him any more about the girls!

      This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      Laura Strachan sat down with the mighty Ben Husthwaite to ask all those questions you wish you could…

      By the age of 14, Ben was coaching other shooters

      Ben Husthwaite is an enigma. He is the most talked-about shooter in the country. He is shrouded in gossip and controversy, and is loved and loathed in equal measure. In fact, he was the first shooter I was ever warned to stay away from. But does he deserve his label as the ‘bad boy of shooting’? Does he even care? ... See more
      See more on line
      Interview: Bad Boy Ben Husthwaite
      Robin Cox I like Ben he’s a big nice guy whenever I’ve spoke with him he as always been a gentleman time for the little shooter, we all can’t be at the top, I found his phone in the grass once at Grange farm, a pleasant thank you was welcomed. He loves his dad & still hangs around with him, top son I say. Well done Ben on all you have & do for the sport. A man with B—l’s. 👍
    • Some shooters don’t realise that the subtle variances between the major shotgun makers are more than just different branding logos, so Vic Harker explains some of the design characteristics

      Pay attention to design, it could be the reason you had that fluke of right on target shots

      Despite the efforts of gun writers over the years, the majority of clay shooters take little interest in shotgun design, to the extent few could articulate the difference between one maker and another. Barrel length, varying types of rib, trigger pull and stock configuration some pay attention to, but a significant majority are only searching for a gun they can break more targets with, paying scant attention to anything other than coming upon some magic gun: an Excalibur that will transform them into champions. As to fundamental gun design, how the barrels are jointed to the action, for example, is taken entirely for granted and yet this basic factor alone influences how the gun will both feel and balance to the extent it may impact on the shooter’s performance and for the clay shooter his score.

      While Browning created the most widely sold and copied over-and-under with its under bolting, Beretta developed the trapezoidal shoulders, Krieghoff and Remington used the steel shroud and Perazzi created the bifurcated bolt,

      The first competitive shooters shot over live pigeon with single barrelled muzzle-loading guns, but it was the introduction of the centrefire cartridge that more than any other factor influenced the design of the breech-loading shotguns we use today. From loading powder, shot and wadding into the shotgun barrel’s muzzle ends, to all these things plus the primer in one convenient package, took firearms design from cumbersome, slow-to-load single-shot muskets to the machine-gun in three decades. During that period the breech-loading shotgun as we know it today was spawned. The first breech loaders were greeted with suspicion by some and a competition developed between gunmakers to devise the strongest and therefore safest method of locking the barrels to the action.

      A French gunmaker, Casimir Le Faucheaux, is credited with the first successful breech-loader, together with the first efficient self-contained cartridge, which he patented in 1835. From then on, for the rest of the 19th century and beyond, in which the centrefire cartridge continued to be improved, gunmakers continued to develop the breech-loading shotgun and most importantly the securing of the barrels to the action.

      Tulio Marengoni with Pietro Beretta and other Beretta staffers

      At this time, it was the side-by-side shotgun that found the most favour with gunmakers. The over-and-under presented a number of complex design problems, to the extent that for the time being, manufacturers were content to perfect the side-by-side, for which there was a ready market. In a period of less than 50 years the sidelock and boxlock side-by-sides, reached a pinnacle of efficiency that left little for improvement.

      In London, a number of fine gunmakers satisfied the needs of the landed gentry with ever better improvements to the sidelock gun. Meanwhile in Birmingham, vast numbers of boxlocks of good quality were produced that met the requirements of those less wealthy. It should be understood the market was perfectly satisfied with these guns and it was the gunmakers themselves who were looking for something different to stimulate sales, so they looked at the possibilities of the over-and-under.

      It posed challenges in how to adapt the lockwork and to joint the barrels to the action, as well as create an attractive appearance. Some early over-and-unders were far from good looking and makers quickly found that by merely putting a pair of barrels on their side and incorporating the bolting as with a side-by-side did not create an elegant appearance. Eventually, however, as is often the case in periods of intense inventiveness that typified English gun making at the time, there arises one man who has at least most of the answers.

      Beretta, Krieghoff, Perazzi and Remington all owe a lot to the great British gunmaker, James Woodward, dubbed the father of modern shotguns

      James Woodward’s take on the over-and-under dispensed with under-bolting, the locking bolt instead taking the form of a U shape coming forward each side of the breech face to locate with bites each side of the bottom barrel. Other bearing surfaces were machined from the barrel lumps, which, on the closure of the gun located with wedges integral to the actions interior walls. This system was strong and durable and superbly elegant. Take apart a Perazzi and you will see the same principles employed.

      In contrast to James Woodward’s gun, John Browning’s over-and-under, manufactured by Fabrique Nationale from 1925, demonstrates that the great inventor had no qualms as to his gun having a deep action. Employing substantial under-bolting, it is undoubtedly the best-selling superposed gun of all time. The barrels pivot by way of a forward lump doubling as a barrel hook on a full width cross-pin. Rear lumps also locate through the floor plate of the action body with a full width locking bolt under the breech face, on closure of the gun it moves forward to lock with a reciprocating bite under the bottom barrel.

      Perazzi shotguns of today owe a lot to the great British designer James Woodward

      The popular success achieved by John Browning’s over-and-under did not go unnoticed by the gunmaker Beretta. Like Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, the Italian company designed and produced military and civilian weapons in great numbers. It also had its own John Browning in the form of Tullio Marengoni, and he already had his own ideas as to how a Beretta Sovraposto (over-and-under) should be.

      After many experiments, he had concluded that the forces generated by the explosion of the cartridge, rather than tending to blow the barrels and action apart, actually forced them together. On this basis, his over and under would, therefore, dispense with any kind of under-bolting Browning employed. Instead, he would locate his gun’s security above the explosion of the cartridge thus working with the forces they generated.

      Marengoni’s design also had another benefit, without any form of jointing below the bottom barrel, the SO sidelock would feature a svelte low-profile action. The rest is history, Beretta became and remains one of the largest producers of high quality shotguns in the world and all of them incorporate Marengoni’s original concept for Beretta’s first Sovraposto.

      Side-by-sides were simpler to design than the over-and-under and manufacturers built them in massive numbers

      In modern terms, it may be true to say the over-and-under shotgun falls into two categories, the under-bolted gun or those with bearing surfaces at the sides of the barrel’s breech ends and the locking bolt above them. That would, however, overlook one of the most successful over-and-unders of modern times, the Krieghoff K-80. This gun’s ancestor was the Remington Model 32 designed by Crawford C Loomis.

      After the second world war, Remington had dropped the M32 from its line, so a group of enthusiasts took the gun to Germany and persuaded Krieghoff to recreate it. The Germans  agreed and have improved the gun immensely over the decades. Both sides of the Atlantic considered their clay gun of outstanding quality and design, but as to the origins of the steel shroud that locks the barrels and the action together remains a mystery.

      At the highest levels of the sport remains a behind-the-scenes battle between the most prominent gunmakers for the patronage of the world’s best clay shooters. An Olympic gold medal or a world championship can sell a lot of guns and for some time this contest has been between Beretta and Perazzi. It, therefore, seems that in terms of design, top shooters can be divided between those who favour the cross bolted locking design of the Beretta DT11 and the bifurcated bolted Perazzi, though I doubt that it’s quite as simple as that.

      Did you know?

      Clay shooters used to have to load the powder, the shot, and wad into the shotgun barrel’s muzzle independently, until the birth of the centre-fire cartridge we use today that is loaded into the breech part of the shotgun’s action.

      This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      Some shooters don’t realise that the subtle variances between the major shotgun makers are more than just different branding logos, so Vic Harker explains some of the design characteristics

      Pay attention to design, it could be the reason you had that fluke of right on target shots

      Despite the efforts of gun writers over the years, the majority of clay shooters take little interest in shotgun design, to the extent few could articulate the difference between one maker ... See more
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      Gun design secrets: how subtle differences improve shooting
    • Don’t get caught out by the legalities surrounding the employment of beaters and pickers-up on your shoot this season... read this advice from legal experts on the subject See more on line
      The rules surrounding beaters’ employment and pay
    • These feeders from Nordic Gamekeeper are remotely controlled by an app called FeedCon - new to the UK, they could be a big game changer for gamekeepers! See more on line
      FeedCon remotely controlled feeders - Nordic Gamekeeper
    • Dispose of your unwanted guns anonymously during the national firearms surrender campaign, but be careful you’re not giving away a legally held, valuable firearm! See more on line
      Dispose of your unwanted guns anonymously – national firearms surrender campaign
    • Mike Yardley puts the Browning 725 20-bore Hunter model with 30” barrels to the test, in order to find out if it is the best gun for game shooting... in depth test and review See more on line
      Browning 725 20-bore Hunter - the best gun for game shooting?
    • A delicious and easy-to-make smoked pheasant breast with bramble gin jus recipe, made using apple-wood cold-smoked pheasant breasts from The Smoked Game Company See more on line
      Cooking with The Smoked Game Company - pheasant breast recipe
    • As a top instructor at Holland & Holland, Steve Rawsthorne has plenty of advice for shooters looking to take that next step in their career

      An instructor doesn’t spend all day shooting, it is the client who has the gun

      Many keen shooters after a while feel they would like to become an instructor. Others just stand at the back of the cage when you are shooting in competition and give advice, whether you want it or not, but if you want to become an instructor, how do you go about it?
      There are certain qualities you need to be an instructor, but these don’t necessarily appear in order of importance.

      1. Credibility

      A client needs to believe that you know what you are talking about, and that you have a broad base of shooting experience and knowledge – if you have only been shooting for a year or two, you are unlikely to have that experience. At Holland & Holland, the school’s instructors may do lessons for a clay shooter, followed by a small corporate group, then a lesson for a game shooter in one day, which means you need in-depth experience in all of those areas.

      If you are standing in front of a crusty old colonel who has been shooting all his life, he will suss you out in short order if you do not know what you are talking about. You don’t need to be an international shooting star, but you will probably be at least a B-class shooter, ideally higher, with experience of shooting some of the major competitions so you know the type of targets they present and how they run their shoots. How can you instruct a competitive shooter if you have never had that experience? Would you have a driving lesson with someone who cannot drive and goes to work on a bike?

      As well as the traditional one to one lesson, instructors will spend a lot of time on corporate entertainment, and most start out this way

      2. Communication

      A huge part of instruction is the ability to communicate effectively with the client. Each person is different and you need to approach them individually: some may need cajoling, others respond to praise and reward, and occasionally you’ll need to push a client past their comfort zone to move them on to the next level.
      The words you use to communicate with different clients may vary.

      You might explain something in five separate ways before the client understands, and sometimes they do not, either because they do not understand the concept or it is beyond their ability. This might require a step back to restate the already-accepted concepts before moving on again. Tact and patience is something you must have in huge quantities because someone might have a belief that is basically wrong, which they have held for many years, and you have to convince them, tactfully, to change it.

      3. Presentation

      You are going to be working with clients from all sorts of backgrounds and with varying expectations, but the common factor is that you will be up close, in their personal space. You will need to be clean and tidy, to have showered and use deodorant. Preferably you will be a non-smoker, as bad breath is off-putting to your client.
      A suitable shooting vest or coat, not tatty and torn, cleaned regularly, decent footwear, glasses, hearing protection and headwear are essential. People buy people. In the first 10 seconds of meeting someone, we form a lasting first impression so it needs to be a good one.

      You don’t need to be an international shooting star to become an instructor, but you will probably be at least a B-class shooter, ideally higher, with experience of shooting some of the major competitions

      4. Qualified

      Just because you have been shooting for years and you’re a AA-class shooter, this does not mean you are an instructor. Most of the major shooting grounds will require you to have undertaken some form of training. At Holland & Holland, we require all of our instructors to be APSI members (Association of Professional Shooting Instructors) and many top professional grounds are the same.

      APSI courses are run by professionals with many years of experience gained at commercial shooting grounds. Courses cover all aspects of shooting instruction, from how to coach a game shooters, how to run and organise a team of your own on a corporate day, and, of course, instruction for clay shooters, as well as safety for yourself and clients.

      If you want to be able to teach rifle, it is a good idea to have a firearms certificate, it goes without saying you must have your own shotgun certificate.

      5. Knowledge

      Read extensively into the shooting world, you need to have a thorough grasp of all the main shooting methods and how to apply them and how to teach them. Knowledge of gunmakers and their history, at least in brief, is a big advantage. You will need to be familiar with using semi-autos, over-and-unders and side-by-sides, how they are put together and taken apart, how they function and their common faults. The more knowledge and information you possess and can communicate, the better the instructor you can become.

      6. Continuous development

      Training and knowledge is all good, but that is just the start of the process. You need to develop your skills over years of work and thousands of hours of lessons, a badge and a certificate does not mean someone is a competent instructor.

      Check out the APSI for further info on kick starting your career as an instructor

      What can you expect?

      Instructing can be a hugely rewarding job, passing on skills to the current and future shooters, it can also be immensely frustrating sometimes. When you are with a client and suddenly something clicks, you see the light go on and they really take off with their shooting – it’s just great. Don’t expect to be shooting all the time, the client is the one with the gun, not you. There is a common misconception that shooting instructors spend all their time shooting, but they don’t, and instructing can actually mess with your shooting, as too much analysis and looking at people’s faults can get into your head.

      To get your first job, approach a shooting ground to see if they have any work. It takes time to build a reputation and most ground owners and managers are cautious – at Holland & Holland, we start people off on some small corporate events where we can keep an eye on them. You may get an odd day here and there to start with, then as you get more used to each other, work builds up.

      I would not advocate quitting the day job straight away as it is hard to find enough work, and there are always lots of people who want to become instructors. If you are good enough, you might then be offered further training by your chosen ground and start doing some lessons.

      Did you know?

      Several organisations offer coaching courses in order to be considered qualified on a national and international level. A few of these include the Association of Professional Shooting Instructors (APSI), the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA), the British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) and the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). In addition to this, some grounds will want their employees to complete certain achievments.

      This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      As a top instructor at Holland & Holland, Steve Rawsthorne has plenty of advice for shooters looking to take that next step in their career

      An instructor doesn’t spend all day shooting, it is the client who has the gun

      Many keen shooters after a while feel they would like to become an instructor. Others just stand at the back of the cage when you are shooting in competition and give advice, whether you want it or not, but if you want to become an instructor, how do ... See more
      See more on line
      How to become a clay shooting instructor
    • With the premier young shots trophy in the country in his cabinet, and an array of other championships an accolades in the books, Ronnie Green explains to photographer Huw Hopkins how he is on track for clay shooting superstardom…

      Ronnie’s training involves shooting 500 clays in one session, so when it comes to the big major competitions that are 150 or 200-bird events he won’t get tired

      Getting a teenager to smile on camera might be the toughest thing a professional photographer has to do. And when that teenager is the modest Ronnie Green, who only cracked the rarest of grins when he won the British Schools & Young Shots Championship, you can sometimes mistake his respectful, subdued emotion for arrogance. But meet him, and you’ll find someone who loves shooting and buzzes with a competitive spirit: “I don’t really think about what others shoot. If they beat me it’s a fair win, but if I beat them…”

      Ronnie’s quiet persona turns into a supreme focus in the shooting cage. Even when he finishes shooting the best score on the course, he isn’t as demonstrative as a group of lads that have been shooting together for 20 years, but there is good reason for that. However, just as you’d expect when asked about it, Ronnie didn’t wax lyrical about them. Instead, his mother, Jo, said: “We live in a three-bed semi in Bexleyheath, so we’re not the prototypical shooting family.”

      For years, Ronnie has been supported at shoots by his father John

      Along with Ronnie’s father John – who can often be seen carrying cartridge bags, gunslips and additional kit at most big shoots – Jo is one half of the parenting superteam that supports their son, despite having no links to the community before, and, therefore, no pre-existing friendship groups to go shooting with. They could be seen a successful case study on how to get non-shooting people into the sport. She said: “If it was up to me, Ronnie wouldn’t have ever touched a shotgun, not even guns for toys when he was younger. I thought it was too dangerous, but John had been game shooting and done some clay shooting, so we bought Ronnie a Red Letter Day.”

      Since then, Jo’s feelings have changed. “It’s just so nice when your child finds what they love and what they’re good at. It gives them confidence and it’s what they’re good at and interested in.
      “Education is everything. If you don’t know much about a sport then it’s dangerous. But when you start to learn about the safety rules and guidelines that you use, you realise how safe it is. These days, I think I get more excited than Ronnie does, because he’s as cool as a cucumber, and I’m waiting by the phone for the results. Every week all my friends know his scores.”

      Ronnie Green has recently taken to using a semi-auto recently, and won the British Schools & Young Shots Championship with the Beretta

      Ronnie spoke up and reminded his mother how often he used to get injured when he used to play football every week. He said: “After I had the first lesson at JJ’s Clay Shooting Club, I just wanted to keep going back, take it seriously, enjoy it and get what I can out of it. So I went to different clubs and got to where I am now. None of my friends have an interest in it, not for any particular reason, that’s just the way it’s gone.”

      After I had the first lesson at JJ’s Clay Shooting Club, I just wanted to keep going back, take it seriously, enjoy it and get what I can out of it.

      Not long after that first lesson, Ronnie entered the British Schools & Young Shots Championship at the age of 12. But now, five years later, he said: “I always wanted to win the whole thing. I won the Under-14s and thought I’ll go back and win the main event. I shot it, thought I did well and waited to see how the score held up.”

      And when it came to the shoot-off? “We were all out there to win it, and just did the best we could. I was happy with the win. All competitions are the same in my head, I don’t change how I do things much. I was really happy with the result of it.”

      Ronnie entered the British Schools & Young Shots Championship at the age of 12

      Since those first few months and years, Ronnie has obviously grown – in confidence, height and talent. And this has helped capture the eye of helpful people along the way, as he explains: “Tom at Starkey Shooting helps me out with the Pilla shooting glasses. And my coach at Dartford Clay Shooting Club, Scott Batcheldor, split the cost of my cartridge pouch with Starkey through his company Airbrake Connections. Westerhill Homes helps me out with money towards cartridges because I’m still looking for a cartridge sponsor, and I get support from Southdown Gun Club as well.”

      Ronnie also earned himself a spot on the Beretta Young Shots Programme a few years ago, which he still works closely with. He started using a 686 EVO, then moved on to a DT11, but it was a chance purchase last year that made him switch things up. “I shot the Benelli last year and needed a semi-auto for it, so I bought this one. It was the first time I shot with it and I did well and ended up winning the Juniors with it, so I kept going and shot higher scores with the semi-auto than I did with my other gun. I thought I’d continue and it’s been getting me extra clays. I don’t really know what it is about it, but I like the 32in barrel. I picked it up in the shop and they said that nobody was buying it, because it’s got a 32in barrel.”

      I always wanted to win the whole thing. I won the Under-14s and thought I’ll go back and win the main event

      The semi-auto purchase is another example of the family sacrificing to get the best for Ronnie, as John had to trade in his personal shotgun to get it. But it has since brought Ronnie added success, and led to him winning the biggest young shots event in the country.

      Ronnie wants to try and get into the England or GB team for FITASC and Sporting this year

      This growth and development is set to continue, but Ronnie has already had a stark reminder that other successes won’t come all at once. His foray into Olympic Trap after being spotted by British Shooting was put on hold pretty quickly. He said: “I went with British Shooting to do Olympic Trap but I couldn’t afford to do it. They want you to travel to different countries to train and it’s too expensive to do. And I enjoy my Sporting too much to give up entirely.”

      But that hasn’t slowed his short or long-term ambitions: “I want to try and get into the England or GB team for FITASC and Sporting this year. I want to represent my country and wear the badge.”

      And Ronnie is doing all the right things to get to where he wants to be. He knows how to physically prepare with the best food, and avoids fatty, sugary items like bacon sandwiches in the clubhouse.
      With a good head on his shoulders, the enduring love of fantastic parents, and support from generous sponsors, his success is already making rivals of Ronnie green with envy. And it is promising to be a bright and colourful future for this rising star.

      This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      With the premier young shots trophy in the country in his cabinet, and an array of other championships an accolades in the books, Ronnie Green explains to photographer Huw Hopkins how he is on track for clay shooting superstardom…

      Ronnie’s training involves shooting 500 clays in one session, so when it comes to the big major competitions that are 150 or 200-bird events he won’t get tired

      Getting a teenager to smile on camera might be the toughest thing a ... See more
      See more on line
      Interview: Ronnie Green
    • With the gift-giving season fast approaching, we’ve rounded up 7 of 2017’s must-have guns and gear releases from the world’s leading manufacturers. Hand picked by our very own team, we’ve tried and tested these all new releases and they’re all our Christmas list!

      1. Marocchi EVO

      The EVO comes in Sporting and Trap models with fixed or interchangeable chokes

      Price: From £1,688
      Where to buy: Viking Shoot

      While the EVO range trickled into the British market at the tail end of 2016, Marocchi importer Viking Arms had the models on full display to punters at the British Shooting Show for the first time. One of the models that has caught our eye is the EVO Sport TSK.

      Those who follow Olympic disciplines will be aware of the fully adjustable stock concept – which was popularised at London 2012 when gold, silver and bronze medallists, Peter Wilson, Håkan Dahlby and Vasily Mosin, topped the Double Trap podium using Nill Griffe’s Ergosign stock systems from Germany on Perazzi shotguns. Marocchi has teamed up with another adjustable stockmaker that is based just down the road from the Italian company for some homegrown synergy.

      The shotgun being shown off above offered an example of what could be done should you wish to invest slightly more in your Marocchi. The EVO comes in Sporting and Trap models with fixed or interchangeable chokes based on the Mobil system, with a 10mm wide and high rib.

      2. Webley & Scott 950

      This model has a number of features that are perfect for clay fans

      Price: £649.99
      Where to buy: Highland Outdoors

      Entry-level shotguns are important for beginners coming into the industry, and heritage brands like Webley & Scott have moved from being great British gunmakers to offering budget clay busters made in other countries. Managed by Highland Outdoors for several years, the Webley & Scott brand has become synonymous with getting good guns in the hands of people starting out their shooting endeavours, and this year at the British Shooting Show, the company introduced two more models to achieve just this.

      The 1000 series is made in Italy, primarily for game shooting, but the 950 series is a Sporter made in Turkey with competition shooters in mind. As a 12-gauge over-and-under, this model has a number of features that are perfect for clay fans. It has a single trigger and manual safety, and a ventilated top rib on top of a 28in rib to help with heat dissipation. The pistol grip stock has been extended to ensure a firm hold.

      While the 1000 is a bit more expensive, the 950 is a bargain and should be in consideration if you are helping someone get into the sport.

      3. Vario

      After getting impressions made of your ears, the plugs arrive made from soft acrylic

      Price: From £349
      Where to buy: Mercury Hearing

      The custom hearing protection market is getting busier, which means product development is improving, and the results are becoming better value. One of the main protagonists behind this in recent years has been Mercury Hearing. With its products being primarily made in Britain, Mercury is able to offer custom defenders at a great price.

      Its latest launch is the Vario range. After getting impressions made of your ears, the plugs arrive made from soft acrylic. Inserted into the acrylic is either a set of bluetooth speakers or an electronic module that picks up sound around you on three different levels. This means that you can either listen to music, or you can swap out the module and have great awareness of everything around you.

      Jason Gibson of Mercury Hearing says: “You can start of with a passive or blank filter, and you can upgrade to a music module, and then we have an electronic module. Because we’re qualified to do hearing tests, we can custom build the music module to compensate for their natural hearing differences, just like an optician would build different lenses, we can give you different hearing from your left ear to your right ear.”

      4. Laporte 18 Column

      With this, you don’t need to reload that fast. You can save up to two hours of shooting each day

      Price: POA
      Where to buy: Clay Pigeon Company

      One of the biggest bugbears of course setters is no birds, but another is the time spent filling up traps. Laporte has recognised this and has introduced somewhat of an innovation in trap manufacturing with the 18 Column. The concept seems so simple, but all the best ideas are. Clays are loaded into columns along the outside edge of the carousel as they always are, but there are additional columns on the side of the platform, which allows additional targets to be loaded and fewer re-stocking occasions during a competition.

      Laporte aims to begin with Olympic Trap models this year and expand out to other disciplines, but you can expect to see arriving in grounds around the UK this year. Jean-Michel Laporte says: “If you have a competition at a place like EJ Churchill, the ground will have three permanent technicians but when the host a big competition they need to employ five, six or seven for one week or two weeks just to reload. But with this, you don’t need to reload that fast. You can save up to two hours of shooting each day.”

      5. Browning B725 ProSport

      Built for the Sporting discipline, the Browning B725 ProSport features a tapered top rib, a weighted barrel system and a weighted stock system

      Price: £3,600
      Where to buy: BWM Arms

      The moment Browning introduced the B725 ProTrap a few years ago, rumours that a ProSport was on the way began. And at the British Shooting Show 2017, Browning unveiled the result and shooters flocked to the stand to catch a glimpse of the Sporter. Browning’s David Stapley says: “It has a familiar black action with the simple ProSport engraving. It is built for the Sporting discipline with a tapered top rib, a weighted barrel system and a weighted stock system so the shooter can finely tune the balance of their gun.

      It comes with a semi-beavertail forend for maximum control, and there is a wide-radus pistol grip and an adjustable stock. We supply three different triggers so you can remove and add the one you prefer. It was always our plan to introduce the Sporting model and there will be variants introduced coming soon.”

      6. Blaser Intuition

      The Blaser Intuition was developed specifically with ladies in mind

      Price: £2,800
      Where to buy: Blaser Sporting

      For a number of years now, the rise in the number of women in shooting has been turning heads in the industry. Clothing manufacturers, cartridge loaders and shotgun makers have been developing products for ladies and they have been helping sales and proving worthy of further investment. Blaser Sporting is one for continuing this trend, following its introduction of the F16 shotgun at 2016’s British Shooting Show.

      When it was launched to much fanfare, Blaser revealed that the brand new F16 was to be half the price of the F3 that has done so well for the company and its shooters for a long time. But this year, the aim was to expand the F16 range, which it did with the Fusion – a laser-figured stock that boasted fantastic-looking wood at no extra cost – and the Intuition. The latter uses the more traditional trigger mechanism, opposed to the F3’s in-line system, but the stock has been re-thought and made to suit female shooters.

      As an off-the-peg option, the Intuition offers a shorter pull length and a higher Monte Carlo comb to suit women’s body characteristics better. Blaser Sporting’s Robert Sajitz says: “We had a lot of calling for it. Ladies are getting more into shooting but their physionomy is different. Everything is exactly the same, built on a Sporter action, with a Monte Carlo stock, which will also help recoil a little.”

      7. Krieghoff K-80 Trap

      The Kreighoff K-80 Trap is available in all the different barrel configurations

      Price: POA
      Where to buy: Alan Rhone

      An all new K-80 that has seen its popular handling characteristics restyled. The awesome trigger unit and the famous barrel configuration remain unchanged, but instead, the K-80 has had a new stock and forend crafted that incorporate the successful but subtle changes introduced into the Krieghoff Parcours model.

      The pistol grip comes down far enough so your hand will never slip off the bottom of the gun, but the palm swell creates a narrower feeling to the new grip design so your fingers can wrap around for a secure hold. The forend doesn’t flare out in the way it used to, and is more similar to the Parcours model that tapers to a narrower point.

      Erwin Pneumans says: “It’s available in all the different barrel configurations. Even the Sporting shooters seem to like the stock,. You could have 32in barrels on this or the Parcours barrels for fast Trap disciplines.” And Jonathan echoed the sentiment. “I think the 32in Parcours for Ball Trap, Trench, Universal Trench, it’ll be a big contender in those markets. Pretty much every market and discipline is covered.”

      Check out our full review of the Kreighoff K-80 Special Trap.

      This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      With the gift-giving season fast approaching, we’ve rounded up 7 of 2017’s must-have guns and gear releases from the world’s leading manufacturers. Hand picked by our very own team, we’ve tried and tested these all new releases and they’re all our Christmas list!

      1. Marocchi EVO

      The EVO comes in Sporting and Trap models with fixed or interchangeable chokes

      Price: From £1,688
      Where to buy: ... See more
      See more on line
      7 of the best new guns and gear
    • Ed Solomons is often kitted up with all the best gear from his sponsors

      Clay shooter and photographer Benjamin Lycett caught up with Ed Solomons to delve inside the former world champion’s gear

      Clay shooting offers a diverse range of personalities and a huge range of kit that shooters use to suit their needs. Ee delve into the kit bag of the 2014 FITASC world champion Ed Solomons. Whether honing his own shooting skills, or taking under his wing an ever growing list of clients and sponsored shooters, he is a recognised face at many shooting grounds.

      I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Ed at Kibworth Shooting Ground to break a few clays. Ed started out playing rugby and other activities as a youngster, but an illness forced him to stop playing contact sports so he took up shooting. Ed’s achievements in this sport have earned him association and sponsorship with a selection of names of pedigree and heritage, including Krieghoff, Hull Cartridges, Laporte/CPC and Ed Lyons Sports Vision. As such, he opens his Krieghoff bag, and a shooter’s wish list of brands is revealed…

      The former world champion has some must-have brands inside his kit

      Ed’s Stats

      2014 FITASC world champion

      2012 England captain for gold-medal-winning Sporting team

      Bronze medal at 2012 World English Sporting Championship

      12 England Sporting team caps

      2008 Clay Shooting Classic champion

      Sponsorships

      “Starting with Krieghoff through Alan Rhone and the factory in Germany, they have supported me from day one, which has been fantastic and I’ll stay with them as long as they’ll have me. I’ve been with Hull Cartridge Company for 15 years, including being an ambassador for them, working in promo as well as the shooting side of things. I’ve worked with Ed Lyons Sport vision since 2013 for all my prescription work, and recently changed to Pilla from Oakley. And finally, I’m a brand ambassador for Laporte in the UK.”

      Krieghoff and Hull cartridges make up the bulk of his gear

      The shotgun

      “I’ve shot a K-80 in various forms for about 17 years now. I have a lot of history with the brand. The service from Alan Rhone and the factory in Germany is always fantastic. The gun itself is by far and away the best made, the best put together bit of kit on the market – absolutely bomb proof. The handling is fantastic and you can get it made to any spec that you like – it suits me down to the ground.”

      Ammunition

      Several boxes of Hull cartridges sit in Ed’s bag, the crown logo instantly recognisable. The shells in question are 12-gauge Pro One 8s, 28 grams in weight with plastic wad with a 1,500 fps velocity. “The reason I choose Hull is primarily the shells themselves, the Pro Ones shoot fantastically through my gun. There’s nothing that I’ve found comes close to the level of kills that you can achieve. They also boast smooth shooting, which you’ll find is a characteristic of all Hull shells.”

      Ear protection

      “The Shothunt ear protectors are comfortable. They have easily interchangeable foam tips, which makes them comfortable for long periods of time – and I often do 8-10 hours a day of shooting or coaching. “From a shooting perspective I turn off the electronic function on them, because when I’m in competition I don’t really want to hear everything. But from a coaching perspective, being able to hear in detail and the dialogue between you and the customer is very important, so it’s a useful feature to have.

      Pro One loads are Ed’s first choice in ammunition

      Eyewear

      Eye protection is a topic of much debate, with many a person weighing in with opinions and solutions. Ed has a strong link and ambassadorship with Ed Lyons Sports Vision and as such has the opportunity to not only benefit, but also extol the virtues and expertise given to him. He chooses his eyewear to be a product of safety but also one that benefits the wearer medically and aesthetically. Ed uses Pilla 580s, carrying two sets of frames with a selection of lenses and filtration. All of his lenses are opthalmics, prescribed after detailed consultations at Ed Lyons’ practice, whereupon the best choices were made specific to his personal requirements.

      “Pilla has the best selection of lens tints specific to shooting. The Pillas with the carbon fibre sides on the 580s I use now are incredibly light, with top quality single glazed lenses, provided by Ed Lyons Sports Vision. The overall package is fantastic: the lenses are easy to change for various weather conditions and I have a couple of different sets of arms, which I just pop lenses on to change as and when. Clarity and background is superb, so I’m pleased with them and Ed Lyons’ service.”

      Pilla frames from Ed Lyons are a recent change to Solomons’ kit and he is a fan of the versatile Shothunt plugs

      Personal affects

      A shooter’s bag not only has staple essentials, many people have some choice personal affects, and Ed is no different. Long days out on a ground require a level of thought and planning, and as such, the sight of protein shakes, bars and nutritional supplements are a welcome change from the commonly chosen option of fast food. Healthy snacks of nuts and fruit, and the all important bottle of water.

      The tools of the trade are never far away from a professional and vital for those tweaks a gun may need to aid them on a journey to success. Ed’s bag houses Allen keys, which are paramount and used when one of his clients requires adjustment to their gun. He also has electrical tape, cable ties and an assortment of other tools remain, their use aiding in the range of tasks and endeavours a shooter faces. And last but by no means least… “The tortoise is a comedy prop and a momento from the first time I went to Dubai… (further details shall remain illusive).”

      As a top coach, Ed has some final advice that goes beyond just getting the right gear. He said: “Never neglect the basics. If you can get those right, you will never be far away from building a big score, or at least putting yourself on the road to do so.”

      This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      Ed Solomons is often kitted up with all the best gear from his sponsors

      Clay shooter and photographer Benjamin Lycett caught up with Ed Solomons to delve inside the former world champion’s gear

      Clay shooting offers a diverse range of personalities and a huge range of kit that shooters use to suit their needs. Ee delve into the kit bag of the 2014 FITASC world champion Ed Solomons. Whether honing his own shooting skills, or taking under his wing an ever growing list of ... See more
      See more on line
      Sneak Peak: Inside Ed Solomons’ kit bag
    • Keeping your muscles strong and flexible is essential for any physical activity. The upper body, specifically our torso and shoulders, are incredibly important when it comes to shooting posture and your ability to withstand consistent recoil and maintaining the weight of our gun throughout a long competitive shoot. Take Ethan Lowry’s advice, and you will see a difference in no time!

      The shoulder is a complex joint with many structures running through it: nerves, blood vessels, bones, ligaments, tendons, to name but a few. The arm itself has only one bony joint where it is attached to your torso and that is where your collar clavicle (collar bone) attaches to your sternum (the bony point in the centre of your chest).

      As you can imagine it is involved significantly when it comes to shooting: it takes a lot of abuse, 30-60 foot pounds of recoil, and that’s every time you pull the trigger. As competition shoots can last anything from a couple of hours to an entire weekend, ensuring the shoulder is strong enough to withstand this amount of force is of the utmost importance.

      Shooting posture involves the arm being held tight into the shoulder joint with the arm internally rotated. Over time this can put you at risk of a number of shoulder conditions.

      Imagine holding your arm out to the side to 90° for one minute. It may sound easy but I would imagine that a significant amount of you would struggle to maintain that without any degree of discomfort. Add the weight of your average 12-gauge shotgun to this challenge and it would be near impossible for most.

      Shooting posture makes this slightly easier, with a bent elbow cradling the gun tight to the chest – could you imagine holding a good shooting posture for a minute straight? I would imagine this would be difficult for most. You don’t necessarily have to go out and win any strongman competitions, but consistent shooting requires excellent muscular endurance. To address this try exercises one and two.

      Shooting posture involves the arm being held tight into the shoulder joint with the arm internally rotated. Over time this can put you at risk of a number of shoulder conditions and/or injuries, including impingement or tendinopathy. To help prevent against this we must ensure we train the muscles that externally rotate the shoulder. Exercise three is the best to help with this.

      One final muscle group to train are those that help squeeze the shoulder blades together. We spend an awful lot of time leaning forward when shooting, with our shoulders rounded forwards. The trouble is, that this causes the muscles on our back to stretch and overtime this can cause weakness and injury. Remembering to train them is, therefore, important, and exercise four and five will show you how to do them.

      These exercises should be performed on a weekly basis. You should try and progress these exercises where possible by increasing the weighted object or by increasing the number of repetitions. Consistency is key. Keep your exercises as a weekly routine, turn it into a habit. As soon as you let your exercises slip, so will your progress in strength and endurance.

      Exercise One: Shoulder Press

      Shoulder Press: Ensuring the shoulder is strong enough to withstand this amount of force is of the utmost importance

      1. Hold shoulders and elbows to 90° with a dumbbell or a kettlebell in each hand 1. Hold shoulders and elbows to 90° with a dumbbell or a kettlebell in each hand

      2. Push up, straightening both elbows fully

      3. Lower your dumbbells/kettlebells down to shoulder height in a  slow and controlled manner

      4. For strength, pick a heavier weight that allows approximately three  sets of five to eight repetitions

      5. For muscular endurance, focus on a lighter weight that allows  approximately three set so of 12-15 repetitions

      Exercise Two: Abduction

      Abduction: Consistent shooting requires excellent muscular endurance

      1. Hold arms straight by each side, with or without a weighted object

      2. Keeping each arm straight, or with a slight bend at the elbow, reach out to side to approximately 90°

      3. Lower your arms in a slow and controlled manner to your original starting position

      Exercise Three: External Rotation

      External Rotation: You must ensure you train the muscles that externally rotate the shoulder

      1. Bend your elbow to 90° with forearm resting across your stomach 1. Bend your elbow to 90° with forearm resting across your stomach

      2. Keeping your elbow tight against your side, turn your hand out to the side

      3. This can be done with or without resistance as above

      4. It is important to keep your elbow tight against your side. Failing to do this will result in different muscles being targeted rather than the specific ones we are trying to isolate

      Exercise Four: Bent Over Row

      Bent Over Row: You spend an awful lot of time leaning forward when shooting, with your shoulders rounded forwards

      1. Stand with your waist bent forwards to 90° with your knees bent slightly

      2. Hold a weighted barbell or a brush shaft with your elbows straight. Hold your arms perpendicular to your body – in line with your chest

      3. Pull the barbell or brush shaft up towards your chest

      4. Keep your elbows tight against your side and bring your elbows back and up towards the ceiling

      Exercise Five: Dumbell Row

      Dumbell Row: Your back muscles stretch while shooting and overtime this can cause weakness and injury

      1. Leaning on a workout bench, or a secure table or chair if you’re at home, position yourself so that your torso is parallel to the floor.

      2. Supporting yourself with one arm, anchoring one foot on the ground and your other leg on the bench, lift the dumbbell (any weighted object would suffice) up to chest height, whilst keeping your arm tight against your side.

      3. Lower the dumbbell until your arm is straight and then repeat.

      This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      Keeping your muscles strong and flexible is essential for any physical activity. The upper body, specifically our torso and shoulders, are incredibly important when it comes to shooting posture and your ability to withstand consistent recoil and maintaining the weight of our gun throughout a long competitive shoot. Take Ethan Lowry’s advice, and you will see a difference in no time!

      The shoulder is a complex joint with many structures running through it: nerves, blood vessels, bones, ... See more
      See more on line
      5 Shoulder strengtheners to protect you from recoil
    • The special something – The Krieghoff Special Trap sure is pretty

      The Krieghoff Special Trap is a full weight K-80, but not too heavy for any form of going-away clays, as Vic Harker found out.

      Tech specs

      Maker: Krieghoff
      Model: K-80 Trap Special
      Bore size: 12
      Barrels length: 30in
      Action: Coil spring
      Chamber: 76mm/3in
      Chokes: Five hand detachable
      Rib: High ramped adjustable
      Stock: Pistol grip
      Weight: 9lb 6oz
      Price: £12,500 with vintage scroll engraving
      Distributor: Alan Rhone (01978 660001)

      This  gun was first conceived in America: A man from Wyoming, Crawford C Loomis, who travelled eastward to work for Remington, gets the most credit for its design. He had already produced the Remington 31 Pump Action, which, at that time, represented a serious rival to the Winchester Model 12. The Remington M32 over-and-under, however, represented a whole new challenge, and Loomis responded to it with his customary ingenuity. His over-and-under was a success, but when Remington decided it could no longer manufacture the new shotgun, a group of enthusiasts took it to Germany and the Krieghoff K-80 became even greater than his previous design. That it now should be produced in Germany seems entirely appropriate, as it inherits its ancestors look, which could be described as almost Gothic. Angular and powerful in appearance, it looks immensely strong. The tempered steel sliding shroud that secures the barrels breech ends to the action body is a perfect example of this.

      American, Crawford C Loomis, gets the most credit for The Special Trap’s design

      If the Krieghoff’s action borders on the brutish in appearance, it houses a gem of a trigger. Every component part is made from the hardest tempered steel that is polished to a glass-like finish. The sears do not engage with a notch, but sit on a step. When the trigger is pulled the barrel selector is pushed upwards to disengage the sear and simultaneously rotates to select the second barrel. It is the directness of the design’s mechanical function that provides the Krieghoff’s super-fast lock time. The ejector work functions equally well with the design, incorporating the conventional principle of extractors being cocked off the forend iron when the gun is opened. The components are beautifully designed and primary extraction and ejection is positive and smooth.

      The stock

      It may be German-made, but the design is quintessentially American

      As with every aspect of the Krieghoff, the design of each component of the stock is carefully thought out and seamlessly conforms to the whole. With perfect wood-to-metal fit at the head abutting a bottleneck top strap. The full pistol grip is a slim elegant shape and this complements the trigger blade, which, when adjusted to the shooter’s requirements, combines to provide a reassuringly firm hold with excellent control.

      The comb is a comfortable roll-over design, adjustable for height and cast. It fits over two robust posts mounted on a steel plate that is neatly inletted into the woodwork. With a drop-at-heel of 70mm, this stock is, in effect, an adjustable Monte Carlo design that complements the high ramped rib, which is adjustable for point-of-impact (POI) by way of a small wheel at the barrels’ muzzle ends. This is set to pattern 70/30 per cent above and below the POI when it leaves the factory. This was absolutely fine for me, however, it can be adjusted to shoot a fairly flat 60/40 per cent right up to placing the pattern 100 per cent above the POI.

      With a conventional bore size of 18.6mm, the Krieghoff’s barrels are fitted with five screw-in chokes, 35thou equating to Full choke, 30thou for Improved Modified, 25thou on the Light Improved Modified, 20thou for the Modified and 40thou equating to Super Full. On the pattern plate with a variety of good quality Trap loads, the K-80 consistently delivered well distributed patterns.

      Shooting impressions

      It is the directness of the design’s mechanical function that provides the Krieghoff’s super-fast lock time

      With an adjustable stock and rib plus a choice of five chokes, I felt an obligation to give this adaptable Kreighoff a trial on as many Trap disciplines as possible. I retained the 70/30 per cent POI, my preference for any kind of Trap shooting and set the adjustable comb at 32mm drop from front to back, with 70mm drop-at-heel, which could not be altered. In effect I had a Monte Carlo stock.

      This set up provided me with a head up posture I am not accustomed to but it had me breaking DTL targets well enough. At the end of my first round of 25 targets I had missed one and second-barrelled two. This wouldn’t have won me any prizes but I was satisfied that with my usual less head-up position, I would have done better.

      Next stop the Ball Trap layout. I retained the same comb height but gave myself a little more right-hand cast at the face. I kept Half in the bottom barrel and while I would be hitting targets a little further out, the breaks I achieved on the DTL targets convinced me I had more than enough choke. This proved to be the case, shooting 21 and 23.

      Vic Harker found the Special Trap a real pleasure to shoot

      I was now getting used to the head up posture and felt with some practice, I could improve. The next day I travelled further afield for some Olympic Trap. I will put it this way, my first round wasn’t very good, but I did manage 22 on my second. Taking into account my usual flat-rib gun is nearly a pound lighter than the K-80, I considered this a good effort.

      The Kreighoff’s versatility accommodates the shooter’s differing requirements as to fit for the domestic forms of Trap, ATA in the USA, and DTL on this side of the pond. For these disciplines this gun is uniquely suitable and already a huge success. My test pushed the envelope on faster targets but in the hands of a more gifted shooter they would have broken more clays than me. Nevertheless, the K-80, with its absence of recoil and its forgiving handling characteristics ,was a real pleasure to shoot.

      This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      The special something – The Krieghoff Special Trap sure is pretty

      The Krieghoff Special Trap is a full weight K-80, but not too heavy for any form of going-away clays, as Vic Harker found out.

      Tech specs

      Maker: Krieghoff
      Model: K-80 Trap Special
      Bore size: 12
      Barrels length: 30in
      Action: Coil spring
      Chamber: 76mm/3in
      Chokes: Five hand detachable
      Rib: High ramped ... See more
      See more on line
      Gun Test: Krieghoff Special Trap
    • We have two premium grade clay target loads to examine today: one with fibre and the other using a plastic wad. We have two premium grade clay target loads to examine this month: one with fibre and the other using a plastic wad.

      Eley Hawk VIP Sporting

      Shot load: 430 grains
      Pellet (count per oz): 425
      UK shot (size / CV): <7.5 / 24%
      Pellets in 30in dia: 220
      Pellets in 20-30in:  100
      Pattern: 52.6%
      CD: 54%
      Velocity mps (fps): 383 (1,256)
      SD: 7
      Recoil (M): 10.7
      Pressure (unit = bar): 479

      First we have the latest VIP Sporting fibre wad from Eley Hawk. This could prove particularly attractive to those who shoot grounds where fibre wads are the only loads permitted. The VIP range come in at the top end of Eley Hawk’s catalogue with brisk velocities and hard shot for good performance at greater range.

      Maxam’s cases and primers are used. The case is a 70mm-parallel, plastic tube with a 15mm brass-plated metal head and the company’s trademark crisply-ribbed outer surface. Primers are described as Maxam’s signature offering and the cases are neatly closed with a six-star crimp.Propellant is a square cut, thin, laminate flake PSB. Eley Hawk describes this powder as specially blended to provide a smooth acceleration for reduced felt recoil with high velocity. A charge weight of 29 grains produced high velocity with a modest breech pressure some 260 bar below (only 65 per cent of) the CIP limit for a 70mm, 12-gauge cartridge.

      This batch of Eley Hawk VIPs used a wad similar to the Diana component, and not form the Kleena range

      In common with most modern single-base propellants, Maxam powders are usually quite clean burning. Little residue was left in the test semi-auto barrel, and while a shade more appeared on cool winter days with an over-and-under, it was by no means excessive. People can get too hung up on a bit of residue – it’s of little consequence when you compare it with good ballistics.We have become accustomed to Eley Hawk using their its Kleena wads in 12-gauge cartridges, and the Kleena Evo 5 is listed as the fibre wad used in the VIP Sporting.

      However, on cutting up samples for the evaluation of components, it was obvious that the fibre wad used is quite different to the traditional Kleena – they are usually shorter than the other most commonly used fibre wads and are most often used in pairs to give the required wad column height. This batch of VIP Sporting appeared to be loaded with a Diana wad – one-piece with a black laminate end covering to prevent pellets embedding into the top of the wad. Unfortunately, at the time of writing I had not received a reply to find out why these were used, so I must assume that, for some reason, Eley Hawk now consider this as the wad to use in the VIP Sporting cartridges.

      These VIP cartridges are loaded with Eley Hawk’s own Bliemeister shot, which proved hard, well polished and graphite coated. They were graded quite closely for consistent size (though actual pellet count was slightly high for 7.5 at 425 pellets per ounce). This increases the number of pellets in each cartridge.

      The VIP produced a well-distributed pattern

      Summary

      The Laboratory report reveals quite high velocity with modest pressure, and the low Standard Deviation figure shows consistency is good (especially for a fibre wad load, where it can be harder to maintain tight velocity tolerances). My 24 per cent CV crush test result shows this to be a hard shot sample, especially so considering the relatively small shot size – it would require around five per cent antimony to achieve.High velocities and fibre wads tend not to give the tightest patterns and that’s how things worked out, as the 40 yard pattern test reveals.

      Through the regular Improved Modified test barrel, pattern percentage averaged 52.6 per cent, which equates just under ¼ choke on the standard choke percentages chart. This opening of the pattern was accompanied with a 54 per cent CD figure, which shows that the pellets are quite evenly spread across the patterns, as much as you’d expect with plastic wad loads. This helps make the most use of the patterns produced and potentially gives a bit more leeway for aiming error.

      By using a tighter choke, the VIP can still perform at range as we found out previously in a distance effectiveness test using the same ammunition. For my part, I have to be delighted with these loads: at my local club Christmas Sporting shoot I ended up with 49ex-50. Some shooting buddies used them and found that they also got positive kills, and recoil did not feel excessive for a brisk cartridge. They proved to be a useful addition to the Sporting shooters bag – especially where fibre wads must be used.

      Hull Sovereign Extended Range

      Shot load: 428.5 grains
      Pellet (count per oz): 452
      UK shot (size / CV): 8 / 23%
      Pellets in 30in dia: 279
      Pellets in 20-30in:  113
      Pattern: 63%
      CD: 59%
      Velocity mps (fps): 373 (1,223)
      SD: 6.3
      Recoil (M): 10.46
      Pressure (unit = bar): 527

      We have examined premium clay target loads from Hull Cartridge before and always been impressed. These review loads are in shot size 8, a slight surprise for a load including Extended Range in its description. This cartridge also comes in the 7.5 shot size, and even in 6.5 for really tough FITASC targets.

      The 70mm parallel-plastic Cheddite cases have a 15mm brass-plated steel head and takes a neat and tightly formed six-star crimp closure. Hull Cartridge Company loads these into different colour cases that represent the shot size they contain – making recognition easy and avoids using a 9 shot when you meant to use a 7.5. The 8s have blue cases, the 7.5 are maroon and the 6.5 use a black case. This can be handy if cartridges become mixed in either pocket or bag and makes sorting them out simple.

      The design of the wad ensures the petals open up well and don’t interfere with the shot

      The plastic wad used is the Z2 by world renowned Italian cartridge and components maker Baschieri & Pellagri. This a lightweight wad with an excellent gas seal, plus four self-adjusting support legs for the full depth shot cup, which protects every pellet in the load. Cleverly-designed slits in the shot cup ensure opening up is reliable on exiting the muzzle without need for cutting on loading. All recovered fired test wads were found to have opened up fully.

      The propellant is a green disc flake, single-base powder that looks similar to the French Vectan powders (now part of Nobel Sport). It is evidently high energy and efficient as it only uses 22.2 grains to achieve its quite brisk performance. As all the ejecta from a cartridge counts towards momentum (and hence recoil) the lighter charge marginally helps in that direction, as does the light B&P wad.

      Summary

      These Hull Sovereign continued the trend set by others in the range by producing  good ballistics and patterns combined with excellent consistency. Shot size is spot on size 8 and shot loads were all within a few grains of the stated 28-gram weight. Hardness proved exceptional, especially for smaller shot with the 23 per cent average Crush Value equating to in excess of five per cent antimony.

      The shot’s high quality is evident in the patterns

      Pellet size shows good grading and the well polished pellets were evenly graphite coated. This grade of shot is essential for the top performance at longer range and accounts for a significant portion of the extra cost.It is more difficult to make smaller shot sizes pattern so well as similar larger shot, percentage pattern wise, because the smaller pellets in the lower part of the shot column are more readily deformed by crushing from the pellets above upon initial acceleration. The blend and quality of components is good – as shown by the pattern performance. Despite the small shot size, pattern percentage averaged only just below the nominal 65 per cent for the Improved Modified (¾) test barrel. When you then look at the actual pellet counts in the patterns you will see how there is good pellet coverage that gives a clay virtually no chance of escape.

      Pellet energy is lower with small shot than larger shot and so there is a limit to how far 8 shot will break clays. I set up my Acorn trap and began shooting some crossing targets starting at 35 yards. At 45 yards the Hull Sovereign 8 shot were still breaking clays (and some beyond) when I wondered if they could. Though pellet energy must be becoming marginal by then it has to be the dense patterns giving multiple pellet hits that was breaking clays. When shooting beyond 40 yards one might normally choose a larger shot size but I was, frankly, pleasantly surprised by what these shells could break. They are clean burning and quite crisp but I found them comfortable to shoot with – quick enough to perform but balanced for acceptable recoil over a longer shooting course. No wonder Hull Sovereign are the choice of many champion shooters.

      Keep in mind!

      Following our standard procedure, both cartridges were submitted to the Birmingham Proof Laboratory for pressure, velocity and momentum testing. Patterns were fired from the regular Improved Modified-bored test barrel over a distance of 40 yards.

      Pattern tests were fired at a distance of 40 yards from 30in standard bore size barrel with 2¾in chamber and bored Improved Modified.

      Velocity = metres per second at 2.5 metres from the muzzle.
      Pressure is the Mean breech figure in Bar (as per CIP).
      SD = Standard Deviation (consistency).
      CD = Central Density rating: records the percentage of the total pellets landing in the 30in circle recorded in the inner 20in circle.
      Shot size is derived from actual pellet count per ounce and listed to the nearest UK size (< denotes slightly smaller than, and > slightly larger than).
      UK shot 7 = 340 pellets per ounce; 7.5 = 400 pellets per ounce; 8 = 450 pellets per ounce; 9 = 580 pellets per ounce.
      Shot weight = average actual shot load, measured in grains: 28 grams equals 432 grains; 24 grams = 370.4 grains; 21 grams = 324 grains.
      There are 437.5 grains in one ounce).
      CV = Crush Value: the amount by which the shot is reduced in size when subjected to the standard crush test.
      Note: smaller value means harder lead and vice- versa (20 per cent CV is harder than 30 per cent CV in pellets of similar size).
      Note: smaller shot crushes proportionately more than larger sizes.
      Half choke = nominal 60 per cent pattern;  Imp Mod (¾) choke 65 per cent and Full choke 70 per cent at 40 yards.

      This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      We have two premium grade clay target loads to examine today: one with fibre and the other using a plastic wad. We have two premium grade clay target loads to examine this month: one with fibre and the other using a plastic wad.

      Eley Hawk VIP Sporting

      Shot load: 430 grains
      Pellet (count per oz): 425
      UK shot (size / CV): <7.5 / 24%
      Pellets in 30in dia: 220
      Pellets in 20-30in:  100
      Pattern: ... See more
      See more on line
      Cartridge testing: Sovereigns and VIPs
    • Everybody has to start somewhere, Vic Harker highlights everything to consider as a beginner

      After what may be some time following your first introduction to clay target shooting, which may have been at your local club or some informal clays with your friends, the moment comes when you decide you want to buy your first gun.

      This is not a decision that should be taken likely – the people who make our laws and those who enforce them do not, so neither should you. Unlike a fishing rod or a tennis racquet, shotguns can kill, not just the odd woodpigeon or a pheasant, but people. That you may just want to break some clay targets makes no difference, firearms of every kind, and most certainly the shotgun, are potentially lethal weapons.

      For that reason, the law requires that you apply for a licence to possess one. To do so you must be able to convince the licensing authorities, which in this case is your local police force, that you are a fit and proper person to possess a gun. This is not a daunting task, but you have to complete an application at your local police station.

      This will be followed up by a visit from a firearms officer to ensure you have installed the required amount of security as described in your original application. Assuming your application meets the required criteria, a shotgun licence will, in due course, be issued to you. This may take longer than you expect and depends upon your constabulary’s workload, which can vary between forces. The day, however, will dawn when you are able to purchase your first gun and this should be given careful consideration.

      Firearms and shotgun license applications are not as daunting as they might seem

      By now you will already be aware that there are different types of shotgun. The most popular kind for clay shooting is the over-and-under. Developed in the first decades of the 20th century, for at least the past 70 years it’s been the natural choice of the competitive shooter.

      Any kind of shotgun can break a clay, but for the vast majority of shooters, the over-and-under works best. The reasons for this are easy to grasp: the superposed barrels combined with a narrow sighting rib provide a better view of the relatively small clay target. Inherently heavier than the side-by-side, it also absorbs recoil more comfortably, and so the shooter will not tire when shooting a lot of cartridges over a relatively short period. The differences between these two types of gun may be marginal, but competitive clay shooting at any level is won by the narrowest of margins, and so for that reason the over-and-under is the sensible choice.

      Most good gun shops will have a variety of sizes and styles

      There is also the option of the repeating shotgun, developed most successfully in the United States from the early decades of the last century in the form of an auto loader or pump action. These guns had a huge following among American shooters for many decades and only recently has the over-and-under has begun to rival their appeal. It must be said, however, that in terms of balance, at least by European standards, the repeater lacks the fine handling of a good double-barrelled gun, and while some might contest this, at the highest levels of international competition it is rarely seen, even in the hands of American team members.

      The semi-automatic shotgun, particularly those that utilise the gasses expended from the fired cartridge to facilitate its mechanical function, generates lower felt recoil than a fixed-breech, double-barrelled gun, and there is no doubt that they can represent an effective clay gun. That it cannot be so readily seen to be unloaded is its only drawback, though in the hands of the experienced shot this should not present a problem.

      Competition guns are designed to not tire you out while shooting high volumes in short periods

      Nevertheless, the over-and-under remains the overwhelming choice for clay shooting, but the beginner must choose carefully as there are still other important choices to be made. Most beginners learn to shoot Sporting clays first, in part because this form of shooting is the most readily available in the UK, and, in my view, it’s far the best form of shooting for starters.

      All the basics of gun handling are learned, whereas Skeet and Trap shooting are rather more specialised. The beginner may wish to move onto these disciplines, but he or she will have gained the fundamentals of gun safety and a versatile technique that will provide a foundation for any form of shooting they attempt in the future.

      A Sporter gun is the obvious choice for the beginner. There are a bewildering number of shotguns in the market labelled as Sporters, but the beginner would be wise to choose a gun from a manufacturer whose products have a record of success in competitive shooting.

      Getting a gun that fits well is of paramount importance

      This does not mean this route has to be expensive, I recommend a good second-hand example of a first-grade gun from a respected maker, as at this point fancy engraving and pretty wood are not important. A barrel length of 28-30in is best, longer may be too cumbersome for the beginner and shorter barrels may handle too quickly.

      Screw-in chokes are recommended as they provide, if used properly, optimum pattern effectiveness and the best chance of breaking the target at any given range. The beginner should, however, not become a choke junkie by switching chokes every time a target is missed. Some time should be spent at the pattern plate, ideally with a knowledgeable observer, where it can readily be seen what each choke constriction provides in terms of pattern distribution.

      Try out different chokes on the pattern plate to make sure your set-up suits you

      More important than even chokes or barrel length is good gun fit. A gross misfit should be avoided at all costs, as this will inevitably result in the beginner’s confidence being destroyed from the outset. For that reason, some informed help is crucial and this is best found at a shooting school. A few pounds spent in this direction can save the far greater amount that can be expended on uninformed experimentation.

      The acquiring of your first gun should be an enjoyable experience and this cannot be achieved by mere expenditure. Some informed advice and careful analysis of your needs from an expert can result in an experience that can go onto a lifetime of enjoyable and rewarding sport.

      This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk
      Everybody has to start somewhere, Vic Harker highlights everything to consider as a beginner

      After what may be some time following your first introduction to clay target shooting, which may have been at your local club or some informal clays with your friends, the moment comes when you decide you want to buy your first gun.

      This is not a decision that should be taken likely – the people who make our laws and those who enforce them do not, so neither should you. Unlike a ... See more
      See more on line
      How to buy your first clay gun