Written by: James Ross, Orvis Shooting Instructor
Fridays at Orvis Sandanona Shooting Grounds mean one thing to me: Clay Breaking Sessions. I hold these 3-hour clinics both in the morning and afternoon. Each is limited to just four shooters with a focus on a particular target presentation you’ll find on any sporting clays course in the world. While nothing compares to being taught on the course, I will post tips and insights now and again to improve your shooting. This week: the teal station.
I have seen many shooters struggle with this target over the years, so my thought was, “Why not start with teal?” For those new to sporting clays, the teal presentation springs straight up into the air, on its edge, showing the whole face of the target. Obviously, it is up to the discretion of the course manager how high and how fast and how bloody far away the clay is released.
I observe that many shooters on a high target like teal have a tendency to bend so that they “break” at the small of the back as they follow the target’s flight line upward. This puts the torso in an awkward biomechanical position causing the shoulders to push back over the heels. I can not think of one sport that I have participated in where you would want your body weight on your heels. Certainly, here it becomes a problem. I explain to clients all the time that, although the target is high, it is in front of them. Stretch forward to it, as if you are trying to touch it with the end of the barrels. This will help keep the weight off the heels and the head on the gun.
Lifting the head slightly away from the stock is one by-product of the weight shifting back to the heels. If the shooter’s weight drifts too far over the heels, the head will rise to bring the center of gravity forward. This is the cause of many sore chins and cheeks and many missed shots. Imagine something fragile under the heel of the rear foot, a clay target for example. When the gun is mounted from the ready position to the cheek and shoulder, the shooter should not crush the fragile clay target underfoot. This will help to mount the shotgun properly and keep the head tight to the stock.
and must not break it.
When a single teal target reaches its apex, it is at it slowest. It is here where I find it to be most vulnerable. The timing is critical to have the shotgun mounted as the target reaches its apex. My focus is on the lower edge of the clay. The shooter should visualize the target to be the face of a clock and wants to be looking at 6 o’clock when he or she pulls the trigger. If it is a true pair of teal, I will take the first target just before the apex, focusing on the upper edge or 12 o’clock, and the second target at 6 o’clock or the lower edge.
For true pairs, shoot the first clay at 12 o’clock, the second at 6 o’clock
I hope these tips help improve your success with the teal target on the sporting clays course. Look for more shooting tips from my next Clay Breaking Session.