Sporting Clays Course

By:
Shane Reynolds, Outdoor Recreation Director and Outfitter

The Outfitter staff are currently redesigning the Sporting Clays Course at Cordillera Ranch to enhance the overall shooting experience at the Gun Club. If you’ve never shot sporting clays, we invite you out to try a round.

Sporting clays is sometimes referred to as “golf with a shotgun,” and that’s a fair comparison. Like golf courses, no two sporting clays courses are alike, and terrain and background have a lot to do with how targets are presented. For that reason, shooters travel to different courses to experience variety.

Sporting clays is the closest thing to actual field shooting of all shotgun sports. Rather than having clay birds thrown from standardized distances and angles as with skeet or trap, sporting clays courses are designed to simulate the hunting of ducks, pheasants, other upland birds and even rabbits. Since there is no set season and it can be shot at any time, many hunters shoot sporting clays to further their wing-shooting skills during the off-season. Targets may be thrown from literally any angle or distance to simulate wing-shooting, and six different sizes of clay targets are used to further give the shooter the experience of actual hunting conditions. 

Sporting clays is typically shot in groups of two to six people over a course of 10 to 15 shooting stations laid around fields or around the natural features of the land. The course designer is not limited in target speed, angle or distance, so every course is different. The course at Cordillera Ranch is 10 stations and our members shoot rounds of 50 or 100. 

The most common target used in sporting clays is the clay that is used in skeet and trap. But sporting clays also uses specialty targets to introduce the illusion of speed or distance in the eye of the shooter, moving at speeds or in the ways of game birds. All can be thrown as singles or pairs. 

Any shotgun that’s in safe working condition, capable of firing two shots, may be used. Any gauge can be used, but the most popular are 12 and 20 gauge. Many shooters like to shoot an over/under because it gives them two choke choices. Shooters who tend to be sensitive to recoil might prefer gas-operated semiautomatics. 

Shooting a Round of Clays

To shoot a round of sporting clays, you’ll start on the assigned first station and shoot each station in order. Before the first person in every squad shoots, the 

Outfitter staff will show your group the targets so you’ll be familiar with what and how the targets are being thrown and strategize how you’ll shoot them. When your turn comes up to shoot, be ready. Step up to the station. Then, and only then, do you load your shotgun. Point it safely toward the target firing area. When your gun is ready and you are in position, relax and call “pull.” 

When you shoot, the target will be considered a “dead bird” if any part of it is broken. The outfitter will score each shot a hit or miss and has the final word. 

When you’re done shooting at a station, open your gun, remove the used hulls, and exit the station. Remain behind the station, out of the way until all shooters have shot that station and are ready to move on.

You’ll find that sporting clays shooters are friendly and always eager to share their sport with beginners. So, while you’re learning the sport, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Let your fellow shooters and outfitters know that you’re a new shooter, and they’ll go out of their way to show you the ropes and help you learn the game. 

To set up a shoot, contact our Outfitter staff and enjoy a round of sporting clays soon.

Shane Reynolds is the Outdoor Recreation Director and Outfitter at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at outfitter@cordilleraranch.com or 210.616.6051.

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