Sporting Clays Tips from Gebben Miles, World Champion
Emily is accompanied by guests Gebben Miles and Mick Howell, who explain how clay target settings can influence your stance, balance, and posture at each station.
Mick is setting two different stations for Gebben to shoot and walks us through what intricacies to look for with each clay target, while Gebben breaks each shot down with his approach on lead, visualizing hold points and break points, and focusing on your target's flight path.
Mick tells us what to look for with each station. Take a look at the clay boxes, which will be placed by the side of the machine. The standard clay targets will have a pheasant on the box, while the midi targets will have a quail on the box. The midi will fly differently and more slowly, but will appear similar to the standard target.
Tips from Gebben Miles: Station 1
Gebben's first approach is with two crossing targets, one standard and one midi, positioned very similarly. With the standard target, he marks his break point about 40 yards away by choosing an object in the distance (in this case, a few palm trees) to reference, then marks his look point when he can clearly see the clay as it flies just above the berm in the background. Once he's established that, he chooses his hold point about halfway between the break point and look point. He'll be applying a sustained lead method to hit this bird, which is recommended for fast crossing targets. Gebben also emphasizes that you can adjust the lead depending on what feels right, but to always stay in front of the bird. With the midi target, he checks the machine's positioning and notes a closer break point at about 30 yards away. Most people will want to apply the same amount of lead to these two targets, but Gebben reminds us that the midi will fly slower and closer and will require less lead than the standard.
Pro tip from Gebben: "Try to visualize how far the targets are, and notice how far they're flying." Upon review of his ShotKam video, we can see that Gebben maintains the same lead throughout the first bird (about 5 feet) and shortens that sustained lead a bit for the second bird (about 3 feet).
In the next station, Mick explains that he's set up two standard targets. The first is showing the dome, so you'll see the orange side of the clay as it crosses the shooter. The second target is showing the belly, so you'll see the black side of the clay while it's outgoing away from the shooter. These targets are designed to trick the shooter by putting the gun out of position, and forcing the shooter to turn all the way back to hit the second target.
Tips from Gebben Miles: Station 2
Gebben first identifies that the "A" target is quartering away from the right to the left, then the "B" target is outgoing from the right. He chooses his break point and look point, then establishes his hold point for both targets. Gebben also explains that as a right-handed shooter, you should always set up for your furthest right break point. If you are left-handed, you'll want to set up for your furthest left break point. This helps to lessen any awkward movements when trying to hit that second bird. Be sure not to line up too far from your furthest break point, which might cause your hold point to drift over.
If you have drastic angles in your targets (both high and low), you'll want to narrow your stance more and push your feet closer together. If your targets are eye level to about 45 degrees above, you'll want to keep your feet shoulder width apart.
Pro tip from Gebben: If you line up for the wrong break point depending on your hand dominance, "it's going to be very challenging to get to the second target in time."
Summary and Highlights
Look at the machines and target boxes at each station. Visualize the distance, flight path, and speed of each target and always use objects in the background as a reference for your hold points, look points, and break points.
More pro tips:
- Target presentations may appear the same, but will require drastically different leads depending on their size (standard, midi, or mini). Use sustained lead for fast, crossing targets.
- Visualize the distance, speed, and type of each target, and recognize how they may be designed to trick you by forcing you out of position.
- Targets with drastic high or low angles will require a more narrow stance. Targets at eye level to about 45 degrees will require a shoulder-width stance.