As we continue on our countdown to the 2021 Clay Shooting Classic, we’re going back into the archives for some tips from former winner Ben Husthwaite.
The Clay Shooting Classic is firmly established as one of the highlights of the clay shooting calendar, with a long history of exciting targets, stiff competition and a terrific atmosphere.
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2019 welcomes the world FITASC to the UK and to the prestigious E.J. Churchill shooting ground, so I thought I’d take the time to explain the discipline in detail and also the best way to tackle it.
It’s been a while since the Worlds have been in the UK and as many people as possible should dip their toe into the water.
In FITASC there is the new system and the old system; the majors are all shot on the new system so that’s what I’ll be covering here. New system shoots are set over three or four stations per parcour and each parcour is 25 targets.
All targets will be labelled in letters near the trap that are visible to the shooter, and the referee is there to help, so if you forget which target it is or what it’s doing you can ask. At the Worlds there will be four stations. On three of the stations you will face four singles and a pair. On one station it will be three singles and two pairs.
On each station you will have a menu board explaining your sequences. Unfortunately, due to complications with mislabelling a few years back, neither the menu nor the referee will tell you whether the target is a standard clay, a battue, or some other type.
I do not agree with this new rule, but there’s no changing it right now, so keep my recent article on targets to hand.
At the Worlds you will shoot 50 targets per day for four days. Usually you will find two hard parcours, two easier ones, and four middle of the road. This means the competition is hard to judge, so never give up.
One person may appear to be in a winning position but have the two harder parcours to shoot, while a shooter a couple of points behind could find themselves finishing on the easier two.
You will be entered into a squad of six and when you arrive at station one the first shooter will step into the hoop (not cage). They will be allowed to view all the singles in the sequence presented, and may ask to see them again if they so need.
Each shooter will then shoot the singles until all six have shot. The referee will then say ‘doubles’. The second shooter from the singles will start this time, and unless the pairs are simultaneous or following you will not be allowed to review them. When you arrive at station two, the third shooter will be first on singles, and so on.
A few rules to note: when calling for the target the stock of your gun has to be below a line on your skeet vest, 25cm from the top of the shoulder; the stock has to stay there until the target is visible and only then can you mount the gun.
If you go above the line before the target is visible you get a yellow card warning and must repeat the target. This warning only lasts for the parcour, but if you do go above it again during the same parcour you get a red card and the target is called lost regardless of the outcome.
You can fire twice at all singles, so make sure you carry plenty of cartridges – it’s best to take enough for two layouts. The maximum load is 28 grams. This sounds like a lot of rules and punishment but I assure you the referees are very good and are there to help you. In my opinion FITASC is the Formula One of shooting.
Tips for the shooter
The best thing to remember is that the referee can help if you forget where you are in the sequence. Just ask and you will get polite help. The menu board is there, so refer to it between shots – there could be four or five singles to remember.
A lot of people suffer from ‘concrete boot syndrome’, meaning they set their feet for the first single and then don’t move them for the rest of the sequence.
And talking of foot position, remember you have two shots at your singles, so your stance may have to be different to what it would be if you had one shot. Your second attempt could be 20 or 30 yards further along the flight path, so make sure you have enough rotation left in your footwork for your follow-up shot.
Taking two shots at single should really help, but with the wrong setup it can actually be detrimental to your score.
You leave the hoop between singles and doubles. This is important, as you should treat them totally separately and not as if you’re being repetitive. As I’ve spoken about before, every clay has a sweet spot, and when shooting doubles it’s obvious that this is the place to take the shot.
You find a lot of shooters are better at doubles than singles, and one of the biggest reasons for this is that on the singles they take two bad shots instead of one good one and one bad. They shoot either side of the sweet spot in a hurry to get two shots off.
To combat this, when viewing the singles make sure you consider three shots: the sweet spot, before the sweet spot, and after the sweet spot. From this list pick the best two for each target, with one being the sweet spot in each case.
Example: Reverse Teal
Imagine a reverse teal with the sweet spot at the very peak. You’re left with two choices for the other barrel: on the way up, or on the way down. In this instance I’m going to choose to fire my first barrel before the sweet spot, so two things can happen:
Either I hit it early on the way up, or I miss it on the up, but I’m still full of confidence as I still have the perfect shot left.
The mount is crucial, and the main thing that separates FITASC from Sporting. It makes trap and fast targets far harder compared to the conventional gun-up style.
A mount can be practiced to perfection at home, but you still see people get in the hoop and then rush the mount. A very famous Irishman once said: “precision beats power and timing beats speed”. Keep your mount smooth and at a pace that’s controllable for you. Remember the goal is get to the hold point and be mounted just before the clay gets there.
Above all, go to a local ground that has a FITASC layout and see for yourself. I use Kibworth SG for my FITASC lessons, as they have two layouts permanently set up.
Don’t let its reputation of 70-yard crossers and crazy targets put you off. Those days are gone, and FITASC is enjoyable and fun for all comers now.
For advice or lesson enquires message me on Facebook or Bengun100@hotmail.com and the new website be up and running soon.