What We Offer
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Similar to trap shooting, sporting clays has become an integral activity of clay target at the St. John’s Rod and Gun Club. While both trap and sporting clays both involve shooting at clay targets with shotguns, sporting clays differs from its more traditional cousin of trap shooting in several different ways. Often described as "golf with a shotgun", a typical course includes from 5 to 15 different shooting stations laid out over natural terrain. Unlike trap and skeet, which are games of repeatable target presentations, sporting clays simulates the unpredictability of game hunting, offering a great variety of trajectories, angles, speeds, elevations, distances, and target sizes.
Founded at the club in 2006, sporting clays at the club has grown from a four or five person group to a regular showing of thirty or more people and continues to grow. During spring and summer, shoots are offered every Wednesday evening and all are welcome to enjoy a fun, challenging, sporting activity. This past year has seen sporting clays events taking place more often in the off-season so check out the Announcements section of the main web page for additional sporting clay events. The club provides clay targets at a reasonable price so bring a friend, a spouse, son, or daughter as our group is open to having fun and making new friends.
In 2016, we started offering shoots during the day in the off-season labelled OFCL (Old Fellows Clays League). Of course, as with most club events it is open to all club members. It generally runs from 10 am to 3 pm every Wednesday from early September to April.
Also, the sporting clays committee recently developed a Five Stand setup. Five Stand is a variant of sporting clays, trap and skeet. There are five stations with a total of six to eighteen strategically placed clay target throwers(called traps). Shooters shoot in turn at various combinations of clay birds. Each station will have a menu card that lets the shooter know the sequence of clay birds he or she will be shooting at (i.e. which trap the clay bird will be coming from). The shooter is presented with 5 targets at each station, first a single bird followed by two pairs. Pairs can be either "report pairs," in which the second bird will be launched after the shooter fires at the first; or "true pairs" when both birds launch at the same time. After shooting at the 5 birds on the menu at that station, the shooter proceeds to the next stand, where they find a new menu of 5 targets.
Sporting Clays started in the 1880's in England where glass balls filled with feathers were used to practice game hunting. In the early 1900s, a number of British shooting schools adopted the use of clay targets to practice for driven-game shoots. Clay target shooting quickly attracted a large following. The first British Open, England’s premier sporting clays competition, was held in 1925. Sporting Clays was introduced to American shooters by Bob Brister in his feature article in Field & Stream magazine in July 1980. On September 27, 1980 the first Sporting Clays shoot was held at Remington's Lordship Gun Club in Connecticut. Ninety shooters participated, including executives from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). In 1982, the oldest continuous Sporting Clays competitive event (The Norbert Buchmayer Society annual Gathering of Friends) began and continues to this day. In 1985, the United States Sporting Clays Association (USSCA) was formed in Houston, TX. In 1989, the National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA) in San Antonio, Texas, formed the National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) to provide governance and promote Sporting Clays. Today sporting clays is one of the fastest growing sports in America, with more than three million people of all ages participating both competitively and recreationally. The name may have been new in 1980, but the game has been played in America for over 100 years and several of today's target arrangements were known to have been used as early as 1884, and probably earlier.
Today at the club, we use a variety of “clay” targets representing challenging presentations from a running rabbit, to flushing double birds (Partridge hunters will love this one), to a teal. Thus, typical sporting clay and five stand targets are a rabbit, chandelle, overhead, standard skeet high house and low house shots, teal (launched straight up into the air), trap (straight ahead from ground level), and an incoming bird. The rabbit presentation gains a lot of interest with more than few walking away with nothing in hand, those “wascally wabbits” as more then a few have exclaimed!
Equipment and safety
Because the sport is popular with a wide variety of shotgun enthusiasts, the shotguns used do not fit an exact standard; generally, 12 gauge shotguns used for sporting clays although smaller gauges are often used. The most popular shotgun configurations are over-under and semi-autos using cartridge shot sizes of 9, 8, or 7.5. Shot sizes larger than 7.5 are not allowed at the club.
Safety is an important part of sporting clays. Proper ear and eye protection are mandatory. Firearms are carried about the course unloaded and open and stored in stands at each station. Firearms are not loaded until the barrel projects out of the shooting stand.
A typical course consists of a half dozen to 10-15 stations, with each station presenting clay targets launched from trap machines. Usually 5 to 10 clay targets are shot at each station by a squad of up to six shooters for a total outing of 50 to 100 targets per person. Clay targets are thrown as singles and pairs. A pair of targets may be thrown as a true pair (or sim pair, i.e. thrown at the same time), as a following pair (thrown sequentially), or on report (the second clay launched on the report of the shooter’s gun). Numerous hunting conditions can be simulated by combining various speeds and angles with different types of clay targets. Each station is unique. Throughout a course, the shooters might see targets crossing from either side, coming inward, going outward, flying straight up, rolling on the ground, arcing high in the air, or thrown from towers. The possible target presentations are limited only by safety considerations, the terrain, and the imagination of the course designer. The configuration of the stations is often changed to maintain interest for the shooters and for environmental preservation of the course. Sporting Clays is a challenging clay target game designed to simulate field shooting. On a Sporting Clays course, shooters are presented with a wide variety of targets that duplicate the flight path of game birds, such as flushing, crossing, incoming and other angling shots.
Courses are laid out in natural surroundings and typically include five or 10 shooting "stations" with shooters moving from one station to the next to complete the course. Each "station" presents shooters with a different type of shot. At a "grouse station," for example, shooters might face flushing "birds" that zip in and out of the trees. At a "decoying duck" station, incoming targets may float in toward the shooter.
Most courses make use of natural features such as woods and ponds to create a realistic setting for each type of shot. At any "station," targets may be thrown as singles, simultaneous pairs, following pairs (one target right after the other), or report pairs (the second target launched at the sound of the gun being fired at the first).
To further challenge shooters, target size may vary from the standard trap/skeet clay bird to the smaller "midi" and smaller still "mini" targets, or a flat disc shaped "battue" target. There are even special "rabbit" targets that are thrown on end and skitter across the ground.
Our club has ten stations laid out in a natural setting on a trail through the woods. We have eight automated launchers including a new RTC (rabbit, teal, chandelle) plus several mechanical launchers operated from stands on our course. The course varies from completely open including a bog land stand to one that is heavily treed. Stations are also set up on the trap field using a wobble trap launcher.
Welcome to sporting clays at the St. John’s Rod and Gun Club. Watch the Announcements page for further information on our regular summer Wednesday events as well as special events and OFCL held in the off-season. All members and guests are welcome. New comers are given demonstration courses as required until their confidence grows to join the regular group. Bring your favourite gun and ammo. The club provides clay targets at a reasonable price. Special events frequently include lunch at the club. Wednesday shoots include a light meal at $5.