The Art of Trap Shooting: From Novice to Sharpshooter

Trap shooting is a captivating sport that combines precision, focus, and quick reflexes. Whether you’re a novice looking to try your hand at a new hobby or an experienced shooter aiming to enhance your skills, understanding the art of trap shooting is crucial for success on the clay field.

Embracing the Basics

Trap shooting involves shooting at clay targets, commonly known as clay pigeons, released from a trap house situated in front of the shooter. The targets follow various trajectories, simulating the flight patterns of birds, and offering a dynamic and challenging experience.

For beginners, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals. Start by understanding the layout of the trap field, recognizing shooting stations, and familiarizing yourself with the trap machine. A typical trap field has five shooting stations arranged in a half-moon shape, with shooters taking turns at each station. The trap machine throws targets away from the shooter at varying angles, elevations, and speeds.

Mastering the Stance and Mount

Proper technique begins with adopting the right shooting stance. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, body weight slightly forward, and knees slightly bent. Your upper body should lean into the shot, ensuring stability and balance.

The gun mount is a critical element in trap shooting. Consistency is key, and the gun should come to your shoulder in the same manner every time. Practice the smooth, deliberate movement of bringing the gun to your cheek and shoulder, maintaining a fluid motion without unnecessary adjustments.

Perfecting the Swing and Lead

The “swing” in trap shooting refers to the controlled movement of your gun as you track the target. Smooth, calculated swings allow you to follow the trajectory of the clay pigeon accurately. Novices often struggle with over-swinging or stopping abruptly, leading to missed targets.

Understanding lead is another vital aspect. Lead refers to the distance you aim ahead of a moving target to account for its continued motion. For trap shooting, maintaining a consistent lead is crucial, and this skill is honed through practice and experience. Start with a modest lead and adjust based on your observations of target breaks.

Mental Preparedness

Trap shooting is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging. Focus and concentration are paramount. Train your mind to block out distractions and concentrate solely on the target. Visualize successful shots and develop a routine to help center your thoughts before each shot.

Continuous Practice

As with any skill, improvement in trap shooting comes with consistent practice. Regular visits to the shooting range, coupled with a commitment to refining your technique, will yield positive results. Work on identifying areas for improvement, such as refining your stance, perfecting your gun mount, or enhancing your target-tracking skills.

Joining the Trap Shooting Community

Trap shooting is a highly social sport. Consider joining local shooting clubs or leagues to connect with other enthusiasts. Engaging with experienced shooters can provide valuable insights, tips, and camaraderie. Participating in competitions, whether casual or formal, adds an exciting dimension to your trap shooting journey. And your first step starts at Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School! Sign up for some instruction today!

Clay Shooting Etiquette: Tips for Being a Considerate and Respectful Shooter

At Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School, we believe in fostering a positive and safe shooting environment for all our visitors. Whether you are a seasoned shooter or new to clay shooting, practicing good etiquette on the shooting range is essential. In this blog, we will explore the key elements of clay shooting etiquette, from safety protocols to being considerate of fellow shooters. Let’s aim for a respectful and enjoyable shooting experience at our Gervais, Oregon shooting school, located just 35 minutes outside of Portland and 21 minutes from Salem.

1. Safety First:
The cornerstone of clay shooting etiquette is safety. We prioritize the safety of all our visitors, and we expect every shooter to do the same. Familiarize yourself with our range rules and adhere to them at all times. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction, and remember to engage the safety when not actively shooting. Respect the designated safety zones and only load your shotgun when on the shooting station.

2. Range Courtesy:
As you engage in clay shooting, show courtesy to fellow shooters. Avoid loud conversations on the shooting line and maintain a respectful distance from other shooters. Wait your turn patiently, and when it’s your time to shoot, step up to the station confidently and efficiently. If you notice any safety concerns or issues with equipment, alert a Range Safety Officer immediately.

3. Cleanup and Conservation:
Our shooting range in Gervais, Oregon, is a pristine outdoor environment that we all must care for. Clean up after yourself, collecting spent shells and disposing of any trash properly. Let’s work together to preserve the natural beauty of our surroundings, ensuring that the range remains clean and welcoming for all.

4. Sharing Knowledge and Tips:
Clay shooting is a sport that welcomes both beginners and seasoned shooters. If you have knowledge or tips to share, do so in a constructive and supportive manner. Encourage and assist new shooters, offering guidance to help them improve their skills and enjoy the sport to the fullest.

5. Observe Range Commands:
At Mid-Valley Clays, we have Range Safety Officers who oversee the shooting range. It’s essential to listen and follow their instructions promptly. Range commands are put in place to ensure everyone’s safety, so respect and comply with them without hesitation.

6. Mind Your Gear:
Keep your shooting gear organized and contained within your designated shooting area. Avoid leaving items on the shooting stations or common areas that may obstruct other shooters or cause unnecessary distractions.

Clay shooting etiquette is a crucial aspect of our shooting experience at Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School. By following these tips and practicing respectful behavior, we can all contribute to a safe, enjoyable, and harmonious shooting environment. Let’s continue to embrace the spirit of camaraderie and responsible shooting at our Gervais, Oregon shooting school, just a short drive from Portland and Salem. Together, we create a clay shooting experience that leaves lasting memories for every shooter who visits our range.

The Benefits of Shooting School & Training: Unleash Your Potential

Are you passionate about shooting sports? Whether you’re a novice or an experienced shooter, enrolling in a shooting school or training program can unlock a world of benefits that go beyond the range. At Mid-Valley Clays and Shooting School, we understand the value of comprehensive shooting education and skill development. In this blog, we’ll explore the numerous advantages of shooting school, ranging from safety and confidence to physical and mental strength, improved accuracy, and its suitability for shooters of all levels. Join us as we delve into the exciting world of shooting training and discover how it can empower you in various aspects of your life.

Safety: The Foundation of Responsible Shooting
Safety is paramount in shooting sports, and proper training is key to fostering a culture of responsibility. Shooting schools prioritize safety protocols, teaching essential rules, and emphasizing the importance of safe handling and storage of firearms. Through expert guidance, you’ll learn about firearm safety, range etiquette, and emergency procedures, ensuring that you and those around you are protected at all times.

Confidence and Self-Empowerment: Unlock Your Potential
Shooting school provides more than just technical skills—it instills confidence and empowers individuals. As you acquire knowledge and refine your shooting abilities, you’ll witness personal growth and a boost in self-esteem. Mastering the fundamentals, understanding different shooting techniques, and witnessing your progress will enhance your self-confidence both on and off the range. The discipline and focus required in shooting training will translate into other areas of your life, enabling you to tackle challenges with resilience and determination.

Physical Strength: A Surprising Benefit
Engaging in shooting sports requires physical stamina and control. The repetitive actions involved in shooting help develop core strength, stability, and hand-eye coordination. From proper stance and body alignment to controlling your breath and maintaining balance, shooting training is a full-body workout that enhances your physical capabilities. As you train, you’ll notice improved muscle tone, increased endurance, and enhanced motor skills—all of which contribute to overall physical fitness.

Mental Strength: Sharpening Focus and Concentration
Shooting is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Shooting school hones your mental acuity by challenging your focus, concentration, and decision-making abilities. Through various training exercises, you’ll learn to manage stress, remain calm under pressure, and develop a keen sense of situational awareness. These mental skills extend beyond the range, benefiting your professional life, academic pursuits, and everyday problem-solving.

Better Accuracy: Elevating Your Shooting Skills
Achieving consistent accuracy is a goal shared by all shooters. Shooting school provides the guidance necessary to refine your technique and improve your precision. Expert instructors will analyze your shooting mechanics, offer personalized feedback, and suggest adjustments to optimize your accuracy. Through targeted practice drills, you’ll develop muscle memory and gain the ability to consistently hit your mark. Whether you’re a competitive shooter or simply enjoy recreational shooting, enhanced accuracy will elevate your overall shooting experience.

Beneficial for Shooters of All Levels: From Novices to Experts
Shooting school caters to individuals at every skill level. Novices can benefit from comprehensive introductory courses that lay a solid foundation, covering firearm basics, shooting fundamentals, and range etiquette. Intermediate shooters can expand their skill set through specialized training, such as tactical shooting or clay target shooting. Even experienced marksmen can further refine their abilities and explore advanced techniques to stay at the top of their game. No matter where you are on your shooting journey, there is always something new to learn and discover through professional training.

At Mid-Valley Clays and Shooting School, we believe that the pursuit of excellence should be accompanied by a sense of adventure and camaraderie. So, whether you’re a novice yearning to learn the basics, an experienced shooter seeking to fine-tune your skills, or someone simply looking for a new and exciting hobby, we invite you to join our vibrant community of shooting enthusiasts. Unleash your potential, build unshakable confidence, and experience the thrill of hitting your target with precision. Embrace the transformative power of shooting training and let Mid-Valley Clays and Shooting School be your trusted guide on this exhilarating journey.

The Best Sporting Clays Shotgun

The best sporting clays shotgun is the one that fits you!

Shotgun fit isn’t a term you may not hear often, but one that has the greatest impact on your success as a shotgun shooter. Most hunters and sporting clay enthusiasts read a few “The Best Sporting Clays Shotgun” lists, select a factory gun off the rack, test its heft, eye the finish, and purchase it. Now, this isn’t to say that your new shotgun won’t be effective, but it won’t be as precise as it could be because most mass-produced shotguns are designed for the “average shooter’s build,” forcing the shooter to adjust and adapt to the shotgun rather than having the gun adjusted to fit them.

When a shotgun has been properly fitted to the shooter, it feels comfortable to the shooter. When mounted, it becomes an extension of their body, in natural symmetry with their eyes, head, and arms. It rises fluidly to the cheek, rests comfortably on the shoulder, and the shooter’s eyes align almost instinctively down the barrel. Now doesn’t that sound like the best sporting clays shotgun?

So what parts of your shotgun should we focus on? Mount, stock length, and sight picture.


When you mount your shotgun, check the distance between your thumb and nose. We recommend at least an inch of spacing to account for recoil. You want to avoid striking your nose and breaking your concentration on the range or out in the field. You want to keep your eyes downrange and your barrel tracking the next target.

Stock Length

When considering stock length, there are three specific measurements to account for: drop at comb, heel, and length of pull. Using these three measurements to fit a shotgun to your body will significantly affect your shooting success.
A stock that is too long may catch under the armpit or drag on the lower shoulder—delaying your ability to acquire a target. Whereas a stock that is too short may cause a conflict with your face and hand. You should also take into account the seasons. You’re probably wearing a thin shirt when shooting in the summer, whereas you’ll be layered up during the winter months. So a stock that fits you in the winter might be an inch or two too short in the summer. A quick way to adjust your stock length is to add or remove spacers in front of the recoil paid.

Sight Picture

Since most shotguns have no rear sights, the shooter sights along a plane from breech to barrel muzzle. In effect, the shooter’s eye is the rear sight. Thus, the amount of drop at the comb is significant in its impact on success or failure. Should the comb be too low, the shooter’s eye will be too low when the gun is mounted and will miss low. Conversely, the shotgun will miss high if the comb stands too high. Shooters also need to determine if they want to see the rib and the bead or just the bead when sighting down a target. This is a point of personal preference, and there’s no better place to determine your preference than at a trap range, shooting targets repeatedly.

90% of shooters will be happy with their off-the-rack shotgun, but you’re not like everyone else, are you? A discriminating shooter such as yourself should consider working with Mid-Valley Clays Shooting School to choose a shotgun with the proper measurements for your body type, then adjust or alter the stock from there and work with you to determine your optimal sight picture.
Call or stop by our range today and let’s talk about how you can be a better shooter.

Top 5 Shotguns for Beginners

So, you want to buy a shotgun but don’t know where to start? We’ve all been there. There are many things to consider when purchasing a new gun, especially for a beginner; from gauge to barrel length, it’s essential to know what to look for in your first shotgun. We’ve compiled a list of five of our favorite beginner shotguns that are reliable, durable and easy to use.

Beretta A400
The Beretta A400 is offered in different gauges and barrel lengths.  There are many variations in the line for hunting and sporting purposes. This semi-auto platform is the best value for a person new to clay target shooting because of ease of operation vs initial cost. We always have a number of these models in our rental fleet that one can “try before you buy.”

Browning Citori
Browning’s Citori is one of the oldest shotgun lines around with lots of history, value and reliability on offer. The simplicity of an over & under shotgun make it one of the first choices for hunters and sport shooters alike. Again, there are many sub-variants in the model line, some designed for hunting, some for sporting and some with lots of very attractive engraving.

Syren L4S
Syren is a shotgun brand whose focus is on women and the specific needs they have. The Syren L4S semi-automatic target shotgun offers very low recoil without the heavier weight of an over-under style gun. We made the forend shorter and trimmer to reduce weight and improve the overall balance making the L4S easy to handle and shoot. The L4S incorporates a reliable gas operating system that significantly softens the recoil of even heavy 12 gauge target loads.

Rizzini BR110
Rizzini is pleased to offer the budget-minded shooter the best value in an over/under shotgun today. This gun will exceed your expectations and provide reliability shot after shot. This over/under has classic good looks combined with quality construction.  Try one from our rental fleet and you will see what we mean.

Caesar Guerini Summit Sporting
The Summit Sporting is an efficient tool designed to accomplish only one task: breaking targets. Every feature is carefully conceived and executed. The receiver is designed to withstand a lifetime of competitive shooting. When you compare the thick receiver walls and large bearing surfaces with any other over and under, it becomes clear this gun is designed for durability. No matter how unlikely they are to wear out, the trunnions and locking lugs can be easily replaced. The stock includes palm swell, cast off, and toe rotation for either a right or, as an option, a left hand shooter.

When it comes down to it, the most important thing when shopping for a shotgun is to talk with our pro-shop personnel. They will be able to help you find the best gun for your build, skill level and overall needs. For more information on all of the brands we sell, where to find us, and what you should know before you go shooting, visit our website or call us at (503) 792-3431. Happy shooting!

Choosing The Right Style of Shotgun

So you’re looking to join the scattergun ranks but not quite sure where to begin… Well, don’t you worry, the team at Mid Valley Clays Shooting School has you covered. We’ll help you along your journey and ensure you pick just the shotgun you’re looking for! We’ll break down the different uses, variations, and finally, some specific characteristics which may lend one or another to better suit your needs.

What is your primary use for the gun?
Shotguns are highly versatile, some filling a particular niche, and some all-purpose shotguns can be quite useful across multiple use-cases from bird hunting to shooting clay targets and possibly home defense. But there are, of course, some variants that lend themselves better to specific uses, and it makes sense to choose a shotgun that can do most of the things you need it to do. For instance, home defense shotguns are not much good sporting clays. But you can find a gun to go hunting that will also provide a great deal of fun on the skeet or trap range.

Whats your budget?
Shopping for a shotgun is a fun experience, both from a research and comparison standpoint, as well as the excitement that builds knowing you will very soon be learning how to use your new firearm. But setting yourself a budget and perhaps a little wiggle room is essential, so you don’t feel self-conscious or worried you overspent. Shotguns at MVC range from $1,600 to tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the accessories you can add to make the perfect kit. For a beginner or first-time shotgun owner, we recommend setting yourself a healthy budget of about $2,500.

Are you interested in a classic break-action or a semi-auto?
Break-action shotguns are your over-under (o/u) and your side-by-sides. They are very popular among clay target shooters and upland bird hunters. With double barrels and a separate hammer and firing pin for each, these guns can be more reliable than a semi-auto with fewer misfires from chambering issues. Break-action shotguns start at about $2,000 and go up depending on materials and engraving.

Semi-automatic shotguns are great options for clay-target sports and hunting. A semi-automatic automatically champers the next shell after each shell is fired. As a result, they tend to have a lighter recoil than break-action but take some additional effort when it comes to cleaning and caring for them. Semi-automatic shotguns for sporting clays generally start around $1,700.

What Gauge are you looking for?
The 12 gauge has the largest range of shot shells made for any purpose. It is also the easiest ammunition to find.

20 gauge is a capable performer, strong enough for ducks, procuring ammunition is easy, and it makes a great starter gun for youth and women.

The 28 gauge is by definition a magnum shell and consequently has great performance on the clay target range or in the field. The ammunition can be quite a bit more costly than other gauges, however.

The .410 has historically been seen as a starter gauge for younger children due to the weigh of the firearm and the lightest recoil. In actuality, the shells are expensive due to the lower popularity.

But for your first shotgun, we recommend you go with either the 12 or 20-gauge. They’ll do everything you need them to do, are easiest to find ammunition for and you can’t go wrong with either of them.

As you can see, a lot goes into selecting your first shotgun or your next shotgun. We highly recommend starting your journey with a professional like the people you will find at Mid Valley Clays and Shooting School. We know the questions to ask to help you find the perfect gun for your needs. And we have a ton of shotguns you can rent so you can truly experience the differences between barrel lengths and gauges. And once you’ve purchased that new firearm, we’ll help you master it!

Which Target Shooting Is Right for You?

Target Shooting

What’s the best way to learn to shoot and sharpen your skills? Clay shooting, of course! With a low-pressure environment, proper instruction, patience, and precision, you can become a crack shot with the right effort. But how do you decide where to start target shooting? Here at Mid-Valley Clays & Shooting School, we offer that comfortable environment you need and some of the best instructors in the Portland and Willamette Valley areas.
Additionally, we offer four types of target shooting: trap shooting, skeet shooting, sporting clays, and five-stand shooting. Each sport is designed to sharpen your skills, and each is enjoyable in its own way. First, let’s go over how they differ from one another.

Trap shooting was the first method of clay shooting to be invented. In the 18th century, they would use live birds as targets but eventually switched to glass and clay targets. Little has changed in the way of trap shooting since its invention. Why mess with perfection? We offer singles and doubles here at Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School. Trap shooting is excellent for beginners hoping to get a taste of target shooting. Even if you’ve never held a gun, you can still succeed with some trap shooting training.

Invented in the early 20th century, skeet shooting is more about building your skill with crossing targets. The variety of angles is especially what sets skeet apart from trap shooting. Skeet shooting will help take you to the next level if you’re an intermediate shooter. If you want to get to that next level, contact one of our instructors. They can sharpen your hand-eye coordination in a measured way, step by step.

Sporting Clays:
Sporting clays is one of the most popular shooting games in the US, typically made up of 10-15 stations on a course. Sporting clays were meant to simulate game flushing in the wild. You will rely on the skills you have built on the skeet and trap ranges. This is the perfect environment for hunters to sharpen their eyes before or during bird season.

If you like each of the above practices but can’t choose one, five-stand might be for you. A spin-off of sporting clays, five-stand presents shooters with five targets at each of the five stations. It offers excitement, difficulty, and a variety different from any other shooting discipline. It is an excellent method for hunters to get back into the swing of things before their season begins. You’ll get the variety you need to refocus your skills before the real thing, from high fliers to ground grazers. Five-stand can be done by beginners but is especially helpful for advanced shooters and seasoned hunters.

Here at Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School, there’s something for everyone, no matter what type of shotgun shooting you’re interested in. Visit our pro shop for professional help choosing the right gear, then work with an instructor to succeed on the range. Whether skeet, trap, sporting clays, or 5-stand, Mid Valley Clays & Shooting School, Nestled in the Willamette Valley just south of Portland, Oregon, is the place to do it. Consider us for your next “claycation.”

Lefty Fun Fact

Evidence of right- or left-handed dominance first appeared in humans about 1.5 million years in tools found in Kenya. Before that, there is little or no evidence of hand preference. Click for more fun facts.