Skeet shooting is a sport in which participants use shotguns to shoot at clay targets tossed into the air at high speed by spring devices called traps, which are located in small structures called houses. Two houses – one high house on the left and one low house on the right – are set facing each other at the two end points of a semicircular skeet field and launch targets when a shooter gives a call. Seven shooting stations are located along the semicircular arc of the field and the eighth one midway on the chord joining the corner stations 1 and 7.

Skeet Range

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The high house launches targets from a height of 10 feet and the low one from a height of 3.5 feet, to reach a height of 15 feet at a distance of 18 feet away from station 8. This point is called the crossing point, the point where targets from the high and low houses cross each other.

The targets are flung diagonally across and directly away from the field of vision of the shooters, who are positioned at one of the eight shooting stations. The fundamentals of skeet shooting are quite simple and consist of learning the following lessons:

  • Handling the gun
  • Body position
  • Leading targets
  • Follow-through
  • Shooting

Gun Handling Fundamentals

The fundamentals of gun handling include learning how to handle a gun safely, how to make sure that the gun fits you properly, how to hold it and position it properly without injuring your arm and neck muscles, and finally how to load it and fire it. Only once you finish learning the gun control and gun handling fundamentals will you be ready to learn the skeet shooting fundamentals. And this may require months of practice.

Body Position Fundamentals

Once you know how to hold, load and fire a shotgun, the next thing you need to learn is the correct body stance. Proper stance implies that your body would be in a comfortable position for shooting. This entails setting your feet in accordance with the spot where you expect to hit the target and then turning at the waist to your hold position – the spot where you point the gun when you are ready to call for a target. Your feet position will determine where the gun is pointed at the time of firing and where the shot will be fired. This is directly related to the crossing point, or the middle of the skeet field.

Your feet should be positioned in such a way that the target can be shot comfortably over the crossing point, allowing for follow-through. The feet should be roughly shoulder width apart and parallel to each other, allowing proper weight distribution: 60% on the front foot and 40% on the back foot. After shifting more weight to the forward foot, lean the shoulders and trunk forward and bend the front knee slightly. From this position you can unwind while tracking the target to your breaking spot, which is usually near the midpoint of the field. This stance should be used on all stations.

A proper stance will allow you to absorb the recoil without loosing balance. Before each shot, make sure that you have the correct foot position and gunpoint position. And when calling for your target, it is very important to be mentally relaxed yet physically alert.

Leading Targets Fundamentals

Lead refers to the time compensation required in order to hit a moving target. The skill lies in anticipating how far ahead of the moving target to aim and shoot while tracking its trajectory. There are three ways to get your lead.

  • In a swing-through lead, you start with the bead behind the target, you overtake it and then fire as you swing through and out ahead of it.
  • In a pull-ahead lead, you start with the bead on the target, pull out in front of it, obtain your lead and fire.
  • In a sustained lead, you start ahead of the target to begin with, adjust your lead and fire.

Follow-through Fundamentals

Regardless of what lead style you develop, moving the gun to a point ahead of the target and stopping as you fire would probably mean a lost target. Your gun must be kept swinging smoothly and follow through after the trigger is pulled on every target. Follow-through contributes to good shooting fundamentals by maintaining your lead. Stopping the gun abruptly causes the shot to pattern behind the fleeing target.

Shooting Fundamentals

The fundamentals regarding shooting are:

  • Try to shoot with both eyes open because binocular vision gives a better depth perception. You will have a better sight of the target as well as of the bead on your barrel. Moreover, you will also feel more relaxed with both eyes open.
  • Always keep your gaze focused on the target, not on the bead. You should see the bead only as a reference point, either on the target or out in front of it if you are leading it.
  • Remember that you must fire as soon as you have obtained and checked proper lead. If you start rechecking your lead to be doubly sure of it, you are bound to slow down your swing and miss your target.
  • Never forget to follow through. Especially on those tough middle stations, 3, 4 and 5, a really positive follow-through is a must.
  • Maintain a stance that allows you to swing at the hips.
  • Lead the target (in other words, shoot in front of it).
  • Lastly, don’t get bogged down by problems like flinching and freezing, however frustrating they might be. Though these problems are a result of involuntary reaction of your subconscious to the anticipation of recoil, all that you may require to overcome them could be a slight fine-tuning of your mental setup.

If you grasp these basic skeet shooting fundamentals thoroughly and follow them during the game, you can really enjoy this wonderful sport to the full. And as a bonus you learn a very useful life skill, the skill of focusing your mind and ignoring distractions. In short, a great recreational adventure sport that can be turned into a profession too!

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