Shooting Clay Targets – Finding a Club

So you’ve purchased your Chiappa Triple Crown, and shined her up real nice. You have all your gear ready…a sweet vest, field glasses, a camouflage Make America Great Again hat, and the best target loads money can buy. So where’s the party? Where do you get to use all this gear? Well, chances are, you have a clay shooting club not too far away. Hit the ol’ Google machine and find you one.

Now, depending on the particular club you choose, you may or may not be able to use that Chiappa Triple Crown. Clubs have club rules, and you need to follow them, but you know I love to use outrageous examples when talking about firearms. In addition to the type of shotgun you may use, the club might also limit you to a particular type of ammunition. So while you’re searching for a club, once you settle on one, make sure you’re well versed with the club’s rules.

Typically, any double-barrel break-action shotgun will be sufficient to start out with. Bringing your Mossberg 500 pump-action, tactical, pistol gripped, red dotted shotgun is probably not a good idea. However, the choices are rather limitless, and you’re certainly not obligated to have a plain semi-automatic shotgun. Over under (OU) are becoming increasingly popular and more available/affordable, and offer slightly better accuracy than a semi-auto setup, in my opinion. I’m not going to get into that debate in this post, because there are a lot of people that would argue that point. We can save that for another day.

A shooting clubhouse can be a great experience. You can make new friends while sipping a beer after a long day of shooting (if the club allows), and even network a little while getting tips from some of the more seasoned shooters. Some clubs won’t be that lavish, and some can even be pretty bare bones, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you purchase a membership. Additionally, a lot of clubs will offer great corporate rates, and even family packages (be sure to check out our post on family clay shooting). As with anything, a little homework and research can go a long way in finding the best value for your money.

Some of the bigger clubs may even have equipment for sale. For example, shotguns, ammunition, targets, clothing, and other shooting sports-related gear, and your membership may even earn you a discount. Additionally, they may have a bar or even serve food, or a buffet. It all depends on how high-end you’re willing to go. Shooting clubs can be akin to country clubs for golfers. Don’t get distracted by all the amenities though, and focus on your shooting. That’s why you’re there right?

All in all, big club or small club, you’re in for a great time. It’s a unique experience, and so much different from going to your local range and firing at paper targets, which let’s face it, gets boring after a while. You’ll also run into all different types of people, like you would at a shooting range, but also hunters practicing in the off-season.

Clay shooting is a challenging game that can really help hone your reaction time, and that’s a big reason they’re so popular with hunters. On a clay shooting course, the clays are designed to simulate bird flight-paths and can take on various trajectories. The courses are usually laid out in beautiful, natural surroundings, and you can do some sightseeing as you move station to station. A full round can typically consist of anywhere from 50-100 targets, so you’re definitely going to get some good practice in.

If you’re local here in northern Illinois, we’d highly recommend the Northbrook Sports Club (www.northbrooksportsclub.org). It’s a beautiful course and clubhouse, and my shooting club of choice.

Do we have any readers that are clay shooters? Do you shoot competitively, or just as a hobby, or with your family? As always, please feel free to add anything in the comments we may have left out. Happy shooting!

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