Safety, Terminology & Etiquette

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  • Always assume a shotgun is loaded and treat it accordingly.
  • Never point a shotgun at anyone at any time.
  • Mandatory use of eye and ear protection at all times by shooters and spectators alike.
  • Shotgun shells must be target loads containing 7 1/2, 8, 8 1/2 or 9 in shot size, maximum length of 3-inch, maximum shot weight of 1 1/8 ounce, and maximum powder weight of 3-dram.
  • Action of shotgun must be open unless actively shooting.
  • Maximum of two shells in a shotgun at any time.
  • Shooting is conducted from designated shooting stands only.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • While moving from one shooting position to another the shotgun must be unloaded with the action open, carrying over/under and side-by-side with muzzles/barrels in front of you, and all other shotguns with muzzle/barrel to the sky. Never carry a shotgun with the muzzle/barrel pointed behind you.
  • Back-up shooting is not permitted.
  • Shooting under the influence of any intoxicant is prohibited.


American Trap (ATA – American 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.

Battue (Plate)  Special type of flat target used in all forms of sporting English Sporting (known as Sporting Clays in the USA), 5-Stand Sporting, Sportrap and FITASC Sporting

Bead Generally a small white, round object which is situated on the very end of the barrel on top of the rib. It is used as almost a subconscious ‘sight’ for the shooter. Sometimes there is another bead in the middle of the rib as an additional sight to help you line up the front bead and your eye.

Broken The state of the gun when 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.

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 their weight (in Clay Target Shooting we use from 24gm to 36gm) and in their shot size (from 2mm to 2.5mm diameter).

Choke The narrowing or constriction at the end of the barrel to either widen or narrow the pattern of shot as it leaves the gun.

Clay Target The round dish-shaped target made of pitch and lime varies in sizes from 60mm through to 110mm. Varies in color – can be black, orange, white or pink.

Double When a shooter must shoot at two targets (i.e. one shot at each target) in the games of Trap and Skeet. They can be sent out simultaneously (two targets released from two different traps at the same time – one on each trap), following pair (i.e. one after the other along the same trajectory) or on report (the second target is thrown immediately the first shot has been fired at the first target).  Two targets can also be loaded on one trap that has one (or two) ‘arms’ and thrown as a simultaneous pair – this would be from a manual trap.

Ear Protection It is important to protect the ears from damage from the loudness of the cartridge being fired. Ear protection takes the form of either sponge plugs/plastic plugs which are inserted into the ear, or earphones which cover the whole ear.   Ear protection is compulsory in all shooting disciplines for shooters and spectators alike.

Etiquette Shooters respect for fellow shooters.  Shooters may not touch another person’s firearm unless given permission by the owner.  Guns are carried with actions open at all times. Guns are not pointed at anything except targets or down range.  Shooters must wait until the last person has finished shooting before moving off the range.

F.I.T.A.S.C. Federale Internationale de Tir Aux Armes Sportives de Chasse – the international governing body for F.I.T.A.S.C., which is the international version of Sporting Clays.  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 to the shooter. The gun must remain at 25cm below the shoulder until the target can be seen.

Glasses It is compulsory for all shooters and spectators to wear eye protection from stray fragments of clay or burn powder. Good glasses will also help the shooter to see clays more easily by cutting down glare from the sun or brightening up a dull day.

Gun Fit Very important for all shooters to have their gun “fitted” to them. It ensures that the sight picture the shooter sees is perfectly straight and that the gun does not ‘kick’ when used.

Kill/Lost When a target is hit (i.e. a visible piece is seen to come off the clay in flight) it is announced as a “kill”. Americans also use the word “dead”. If, when a target has been fired at and missed, it is referred to as “lost” or “zero”.

Lead  Sometimes referred to as “forward allowance”- the amount of space which you shoot in front of, below, or on top of a clay in order to break it. Remember that you shoot where the clay is going and not where it is.

No-Target Often referred to as No-Bird – is when a target comes out of the trap broken; is the wrong trajectory, or when the shooter commits an offense.

Skeet A variation on English Skeet – the targets are slightly faster (but not as fast as Olympic Skeet) and instead of shooting a pair of targets on station four, the “duck” station is used (station 8).

On Report 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.

Over & Under A shotgun where one barrel sits on top of the other, joined together by “side ribs.”

Pull! The command the shooter issues when they are ready for the clay to be released. Some shooters call “ready”, others just grunt! Some Americans call “hup!”

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’.

Range The place where shooting takes place.

Rib The flat piece of metal on top of the barrels. It is non-reflective so that there is no glare to distract the shooter when mounting the shotgun to shoot.

Round Generally 25 targets are shot per round in Trap, Skeet, or 5-Stand.  Sporting Clays are typically 50 or 100 targets per round.

Scoring All scoring in Clay Target Shooting is 1 point per target hit. 

Semi-Automatic Shotgun  It is a single-barreled shotgun where you can insert two cartridges in the breech.  The recoil from the firing of the first cartridge loads the second cartridge. It is very important for the shooter to adhere to the safe carrying of this type of shotgun.  The semi-auto should be carried with the barrel pointing upwards, breech open and facing forwards and the shotgun unloaded otherwise it can be safely carried unloaded in a normal gun bag.

Shooting Vest Normally 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.

Shotgun A shotgun is the firearm used in Clay Target Shooting and hunting.  Its barrel has a smooth bore that uses a cartridge filled with pellets. 

Side Ribs Metal pieces which hold barrels together.

Side-by-Side A shotgun where the barrels (two of them) sit side by side.

Single When a shooter shoots at one clay only.

Sporting Clays Different types of targets are used to simulate live game shooting. Therefore, virtually any trajectory, speed or angle can be used.  The clay types are normal, mini (called a ‘midi’ in Europe), super-mini, battue (plate), rocket, rabbit.

Squad Refers to the group of shooters who shoot a round of clays or a competition.

Stand The position from where the shooter will fire their shots.

Straight 25 When a shooter scores 25 out of 25 it is referred to as a “Straight 25”.  Straight 50’s, 75’s and 100’s are also recorded and members can purchase badges to sew onto their shooting jackets which reflect their achievement.

Swing Used to refer to the movement of the gun when the shooter shoots. It is important to have a smooth swing (as in golf.)  The trigger should be pulled during the swing and not at the end of the swing.

Trap The machine which launches the clay targets into the air.


MVC Etiquette

  • Eye and ear protection is required by all shooters and spectators at all times while on the range.
  • Have a vest or pouch to carry your shells and/or empty hulls.
  • Shell requirements are:
    • 12ga, 20ga, 28ga or .410 bore shells.
    • 3 dram or less. This is the measure of powder in the shell.  Anything more than 3 dram of powder can potentially travel too far on this property.
    • 7 ½, 8, 8 ½ or 9 shot size. This is the size of shot in the shell.  Anything larger than 7 ½ will travel too far on this property.
    • 1 1/8 ounce or less. This is the weight/amount of shot in the shell.
  • If the trap machine is malfunctioning or throwing broken targets, stop what you are doing and flag down a Range Officer or call the Pro Shop for assistance. Our phone number is listed on the score sheets and on the target key.
  • It’s not polite to touch someone else’s gun without asking.
  • Be kind to new shooters and observers. Remember, you were there once.
  • “Loss” or “Lost” call means the target was completely missed or had dust come off of it with no visible breakage. Uh oh, better luck next shot!
  • “Dead” call means the target had a visible piece break off of it. That a way, you’re on your way to greatness!
  • Have fun!!!

Trap Etiquette

  • Load one shell at a time. You can have a shell in the chamber and the action open as you wait, then close the gun when it’s your turn.
  • When using voice activated throwers, be quiet during the round. Voice activated systems are sensitive and can launch a target inadvertently with louder noises.
  • Say “Pull” loudly and clearly so it can be heard through ear protection.
  • Some gun clubs require that you pick up your empty shells (known as hulls) when you are done shooting. Not the case at MVC’s; but if you do, we appreciate your tidiness!

Skeet Etiquette

  • If you would like to chat between shooters and shots, that’s fine but keep it down when someone is actually shooting.
  • Don’t load your gun until it is your turn and you are standing on the concrete pad.
  • Load one or two shells for the singles on stations 1 through 7, it’s up to you. Load only one shell at a time at station 8.
  • Some gun clubs require that you pick up your empty shells (known as hulls) when you are done shooting. Not the case at MVC’s; but if you do, we appreciate your tidiness!

Sporting Clays Etiquette

  • Bring a bag and/or a shooting vest. Sporting clays can take anywhere from 1.5-3.5 hours to complete.  So, you will want something to carry all your shells, beverages, and snacks.  You might consider renting one of our push carts or golf carts too, they come in handy!
  • Review your scorecard to see how many pairs you will be shooting at that station and put your scores in the appropriate area.
  • Each squad, not each person, is allowed a “show pair.” Make sure everyone is ready to watch.
  • Toss your empty hulls into the receptacles if they are provided at the stations. For those shooting semiauto shotguns, don’t worry about it.
  • If you are familiar with your squad mates feel free to offer advice, encouragement, and talk a little smack. If you are not familiar with your squad, just say “nice shot” and see how it goes from there.

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