Clay Shooting Terminology

Let our glossary of clay shooting terminology demystify the language of the sport, evening the playing field and decoding it all for beginners and veterans alike.

Terminology for Clay Target Shooting

  1. American Trap (ATA – Amateur Trapshooting Association)
    • A discipline in Clay Target Shooting where a single trap is used to release a clay. The squad of five shooters stand in a line behind the trap and each take it in turn to shoot at a target released from the trap. Each shooter will eventually shoot at 5 targets from each stand. [uh-MER-i-kuhn trap (AY-TEE-AY – AM-uh-ter trap-SHOOT-ing uh-SOH-see-AY-shun)]
  2. Battue (Plate)
    • A special type of flat target used in various forms of sporting, including English Sporting, 5-Stand Sporting, Sportrap, and FITASC Sporting. [ba-TOO (pleyt)]
  3. Bead
    • Typically a small white, round object situated at the very end of the barrel on top of the rib. It serves as an almost subconscious ‘sight’ for the shooter. Sometimes, there is another bead in the middle of the rib as an additional sight to aid in lining up the front bead with the shooter’s eye. [beed]
  4. Broken
    • The state of the gun when it’s not in use, i.e., the chambers are visibly empty, and the barrels are not closed up to the stock. Guns should always be in this condition unless one is on the shooting stand ready to shoot. [BROH-kuhn]
  5. Cartridge
    • The ammunition used to break the clay. A cartridge contains a primer to ignite the shot powder, which propels the lead shot out of the gun. Cartridges vary in weight and shot size. [KAHR-trij]
  6. Choke
    • The narrowing or constriction at the end of the barrel used to adjust the pattern of shot as it leaves the gun. [chohk]
  7. Classification
    • Shooters who participate in National and Provincial Championships will be classified according to their ability. Classes include A, B, and C, with further categories like Ladies, Veterans, Juniors, and Colts. The shooter’s scores are used to determine their classification. [klas-uh-fi-KAY-shuhn]
  8. Clay Target
    • The round dish-shaped target made of pitch and lime, varying in size from 60mm to 110mm and in color, which can be black, orange, white, or pink. [klei teng-kit]
  9. Double
    • When a shooter must shoot at two targets, either simultaneously, following each other along the same trajectory, or with the second target released immediately after the first shot has been fired at the first target. [DUHB-uhl]
  10. DTL (Down-The-Line)
    • A variation on ATA Trap, with scoring of 3 points for a kill, 2 for a second barrel kill, and zero for a lost target. [dee-tee-EL]
  11. Ear Defenders
    • Essential protection for the ears from the loudness of the cartridge being fired. Ear protection can be in the form of sponge plugs/plastic plugs inserted into the ear or earphones covering the whole ear. Ear protection is mandatory in all shooting disciplines. [eer di-FEN-durz]
  12. English Sporting
    • A discipline using various types of sporting clays, including normals, minis, battues, rabbits, and super-minis, where the shooter can call for the target with the shotgun already in the shoulder. This event is typically shot over 10 stands of 10 targets on each stand, with each stand having two targets thrown in a pair. Sometimes stands may have 3 or 4 pairs, depending on the number of participating shooters. [ING-lish SPOHR-ting]
  13. Etiquette
    • A code of conduct that emphasizes shooters’ respect for fellow shooters. It includes rules such as not touching another person’s firearm without permission, carrying guns broken at all times, and not pointing guns at anything except targets or downrange. Shooters must also wait until the last person has finished shooting before moving off the range. [ET-i-kit]
  14. F.I.T.A.S.C. (Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Armes Sportives de Chasse)
    • The international governing body for F.I.T.A.S.C. Sporting and F.I.T.A.S.C. Universal Trench. [FEE-tuhsk]
  15. F.I.T.A.S.C. Universal Trench [FEE-tuhsk YOO-nuh-vur-suhl trench] – See “Trench”.
  16. F.I.T.A.S.C. Sporting
    • A type of sporting discipline where targets are shot in rounds of 25 or 20 over 3 or 4 stands. Each stand will have a different sequence of singles and doubles (pairs). The shooter must not mount the gun to the shoulder until the target has been called for and is visible. The gun must remain at 25cm below the shoulder until the target can be seen. [FEE-tuhsk SPOHR-ting]
  17. Glasses
    • Mandatory eye protection for all shooters to guard against stray fragments of clay or burnt powder. Good glasses also help shooters see clays more easily by reducing glare from the sun or brightening up a dull day. [GLAS-iz]
  18. Gun Fit
    • An essential aspect for shooters to have their gun “fitted” to them. It ensures that the sight picture the shooter sees is perfectly straight and that the gun doesn’t recoil excessively when used. [GUHN FIT]
  19. Kill/Lost
    • When a target is hit and more than a visible piece is seen to come off the clay in flight, it’s announced as a “kill.” If a target is fired at and missed, it’s referred to as “lost” or “zero.” [kil/lost]
  20. Lead
    • Sometimes referred to as “forward allowance,” it’s the amount of space in front, below, or on top of a clay that you shoot to break it. Remember that you shoot where the clay is going, not where it is. [leed]
  21. No-Target
    • Often referred to as No-Bird, it occurs when a target comes out of the trap broken, follows the wrong trajectory, or when the shooter commits an offense. [noh-TAR-git]
  22. Minimum Qualifying Score
    • The score required to qualify for a Quota Place in the Olympics. [MIN-i-muhm KWOL-i-fai-ing skor]
  23. NSSA Skeet
    • A variation on English Skeet where the targets are slightly faster than Olympic Skeet, and instead of shooting a pair of targets on station four, the “duck” station is used (station 8). [EN-ES-ES-AY SKEET]
  24. Olympic Skeet
    • A form of skeet where the targets are faster, the gun must rest on the crest of the hip-bone until the target appears, and there can be a delay of 0 to 3 seconds between calling “Pull!” and the target appearing. [oh-LIM-pik skeet]
  25. Olympic Trap [oh-LIM-pik trap] – See “Trench”.
  26. Olympic Double-Trap [oh-LIM-pik DUHB-uhl-trap] – See “Trench”.
  27. On Report
    • Used in all forms of sporting clay disciplines, this term is used when the shooter first shoots at one target, and then on the firing of the first shot, the next target is released. [on ri-PORT]
  28. Over & Under
    • A shotgun with one barrel sitting on top of the other, joined together by side ribs. [OH-ver & UN-der]
  29. Pull!
    • The command the shooter issues when ready for the clay to be released. Some shooters call “ready,” while others simply grunt. In some cases, “hup” is used by American shooters. [POOL]
  30. Quota Place
    • A place in the Olympics earned by a shooter for their country. [KWOH-tuh pleys]
  31. Rafale
    • In FITASC Sporting, the term used for two targets sent from an automatic trap one immediately after the other, known in English as a ‘following pair.’ [ra-FAL]
  32. Range
    • The location where shooting takes place. [raynj]
  33. Rib
    • The flat piece of metal on top of the barrels that is non-reflective to avoid glare and distraction when mounting the shotgun to shoot. [rib]
  34. Rocket
    • A special type of thick, heavy target used in all forms of sporting clay disciplines. [RAH-kit]
  35. Round
    • Typically, 25 targets are shot per round, with Olympic Double-Trap being shot in rounds of 30. [rownd]
  36. Scoring
    • In Clay Target Shooting, scoring is typically 1 point per target hit, with scores listed out of 25 and then out of the total targets for the competition, which can be out of 100 or 200 targets. Olympic disciplines are scored out of 125 for Olympic Skeet and Olympic Trap, and Olympic Double-Trap is scored out of 150 targets. [SKOR-ing]
  37. Semi-Automatic Shotgun
    • This type of shotgun is ideal for someone who shoots frequently, has a slight build, or is a young person. It delivers minimal recoil and can hold two cartridges in the breech, where firing the first cartridge loads the second. Safe carrying of this type of shotgun is crucial, with the barrel pointing upwards, breech open and facing forwards when unloaded. It can also be safely carried unloaded in a gun bag. [SEM-ee aw-tuh-MAT-ik SHOT-guhn]
  38. Shooting Vest
    • Typically a sleeveless jacket with pockets to hold cartridges and a leather patch on the shoulder from which the shooter will shoot. The leather patch absorbs some recoil and allows the gun to slip into the shoulder easily. [SHOO-ting vest]
  39. Shotgun
    • The firearm used in Clay Target Shooting, which is a smooth-bore weapon. It differs from rifles, which use a single projectile, as shotguns use cartridges filled with lead pellets. Rifles have “spiraled” barrels to make the projectile spin as it travels. [SHOT-guhn]
  40. Side Ribs
    • Metal pieces that hold the barrels together.
  41. Side-by-Side
    • A shotgun with two barrels sitting side by side, not typically ideal for competitive Clay Target Shooting but suitable for non-serious or field shooting.
  42. Single
    • When a shooter shoots at one clay target only. [SING-guhl]
  43. Sporting Clays
    • A discipline involving different types of targets to simulate live game shooting, allowing for various trajectories, speeds, and angles. These clay types include normal, mini, super-mini, battue (plate), rocket, and rabbit. [SPOR-ting klays]
  44. Squad
    • Refers to the group of shooters who shoot a round of clays or a competition. [skwad]
  45. Stand
    • The position from which the shooter will fire their shots.
  46. Straight 25
    • When a shooter scores 25 out of 25 targets, it’s referred to as a “Straight 25.” Higher scores like Straight 50’s, 75’s, and 100’s are also recorded, and shooters can purchase badges to reflect their achievement. [STREYT 25]
  47. Swing
    • Used to refer to the movement of the gun when the shooter shoots. A smooth swing is important, with the trigger pulled during the swing rather than at the end.
  48. Trap
    • The machine responsible for launching the clay targets into the air.
  49. Trench
    • Refers to the setup where certain disciplines use a combination of traps concreted into a trench in front of the shooters. Olympic Trap and Olympic Double-Trap are part of this group, as well as F.I.T.A.S.C Universal Trench.
  50. ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation)
    • The international shooting union governing Olympic shooting. [I-ESS-ESS-EFF]
  51. Umpires
    • Umpires in Clay Target Shooting are responsible for judging whether targets are “killed” or “lost” and for applying the rules of the relevant discipline. Rules can vary between disciplines, so it’s important for shooters to be familiar with them. In ISSF, they are called “judges,” and in American disciplines, they are sometimes referred to as “referees.” [UM-pai-uhs]
Dexter Derelict
Dexter Derelict
Director of All Things Digital

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