Introduction to a Sporting Clays Tournament

Here is another great activity for us Middle-Aged Men. Shooting clay targets with a shotgun! The sport is as old as shotguns themselves, but has really become popular the last several years with Sporting Clays. Instead of just shooting from a few places with a few target looks, Sporting Clay course designers get creative with 12+ stations and multiple targets at each. The idea is to simulate different live bird looks (or even rabbits) as much as possible. Almost every community even in rural areas has a Sporting Clay course within driving distance and they will also have tournaments. Tournaments may intimidate you, but trust me personally, they are very friendly to beginners and even have a "Hunters" class for non-association shooters.

Shotguns? Most male shooters use a 12 gauge and most juniors or women a 20 gauge, you can use anything from a 12 gauge to a 410. They even have special tournaments for the smaller bores. Many fancy clay guns are over & unders, but many like a semi-automatic for a single barrel and less kick (the semi auction absorbs a bunch of the recoil).

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Ammo? Shot size of usually 7 or smaller is required, meaning 7, 7.5, or 8. Shells for 12 gauge are 2 3/4" with various powder loads for various shot speeds.

Safety? If you have never shot before, take your states Hunters Safety to learn basic safety as it is the most important thing and don't take it for granted. I have seen very very smart people do very stupid things with guns as evidently some safety things are not common sense. You can also grab a friend that is more experienced to help you with little safety and etiquette things. Ear and eye protection are required. Your regular glasses or sun glasses are adequate.

Tournaments? You can practice several times at your local course, but then don't be afraid to try a tournament. You can register ahead or just show up. They will sign you up and give you a scoring card for each round that you will turn in at the end.

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Costs? Sporting Clays is relatively expensive compared to some hobbies. Shotguns range from $500 to $250,000+! :D Shells cost $7-10 a box of 25, so a typical round you can expect $30-50 just for the shells. Entry or range fees will be about $40-75 a round of 100.

Sporting Clays is a great competitive sport for you and your buddies or also your family. Your kids as they get close to teenage years will be able to handle the shotgun and have fun. For more information you can view the National Sporting Clay Association site.

Short video of a recent Sporting Clay Tournament:

About author
Rob Lay
Rob Lay is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at, Founder of, and Owner at Lay Properties, LLC. Rob has a B.S. from Babson College and M.B.A. from University of Dallas along with executive training from SMU. Rob has enjoyed various activities from competitive swimming in college, running several marathons, competed at triathlon nationals, competed at national club car racing, 1,000+ hour private instrument pilot, competed as a co-angler national FLW bass tour, and big game hunting around North America. Rob wants to share his experiences and learn from other middle-aged men in the ManLife Community. You can also find Rob on Instagram and LinkedIn.


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