Road to the Classic: how and when to make the jump to bigger competitions

The 2021 Clay Shooting Classic is right around the corner. With less than two weeks to go, we cannot wait for one of the biggest clay shooting competitions of the summer to begin! If you’re wondering how you can get on the road to the Classic, then you can’t miss our latest instalment, in which we discuss making the jump to bigger competitions!

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The foray into the world of competitive shooting is a natural progression for some and a forced leap for others. Many club shooters are perfectly content and fully embrace the social aspects of the sport in their local area, yet others will always yearn for more.

The transition to shooting your chosen discipline on ‘the circuit’ can take place at whatever pace and wherever you deem fit. Though there are no rules to state where you must shoot, there are some clear advantages to putting your grey cells into action and making the most of taking the leap.

There comes a time when you feel the need to move past the same old club competitions

In today’s tough economic climate a large number of competitive shooters choose to stay local to ensure that they make the most of their budget. This is completely understandable for those trialling competitive shooting to see how well it caters for their needs, but those with bigger aspirations within the sport may wish to broaden their horizons to steepen their learning curves and find out how much talent they actually have when pitted against travelling shooters.

The novice competitor could easily be forgiven for thinking that every registered competition is of a similar standard. Unfortunately that is rarely the case but it is the subtle differences that take some shooters years to notice and even longer to overcome.


The decision to travel further afield brings with it an array of factors that will have to be considered to determine whether you consider the venture to be worthwhile. Travel time will typically be increased, as will the cost of the fuel. Entry fees may vary slightly from ground to ground but usually fluctuate around the £30-35 mark, with concessions made for anyone entering on a ‘birds-only’ basis (not competing for the prize pot). Additional meals and refreshments may have to now be included in your budget and you might even find yourself contemplating staying overnight if the shoot is too far away from home.

This simple device can cause the most extraordinary frustration in the hands of a cunning course setter

If you wish to shoot in CPSA registered competitions you will need to be a member of the organisation; a competition membership currently costs £67 per year. Also, do not be surprised if you catch yourself weighing up the virtues of doing multiple registered shoots in a day just because they are now relatively close to each other; entry and cartridge costs are doubled, but there could be savings on fuel costs if you attended two shoots one week and none the following.


There is no set standard for registered targets as such, just an indication of the maximum percentage of non-standard targets (such as battues, rabbits, midis and minis) that are permitted in a 100-target round. Regardless of the target presentation, the background that the target is presented against can have a significant influence in deceiving the competitor.

Consider a target heading towards a sharply rising verge compared to one travelling along a horizon that falls away sharply into a valley. The target that encounters the verge would most likely make the competitor rush compared to the valley alternative that affords an abundance of time; it is intended to catch out the inattentive as the line it takes will be trickier to read. Recognising these facets when reading targets is a vital attribute to building a solid score.

Cunning course setters

Broad experience of numerous courses is the key to successful competition shooting

It’s not unreasonable to assume that the typical club shooter has limited experience and exposure to a variety of target presentations. Course setters are a diverse bunch with some favouring particular styles and others open to experimentation.

Experience plays a fundamental part in establishing a testing yet fair course. Some of the most challenging targets are those that are thrown as a simultaneous pair, forcing the shooter to take one or both birds out of his or her comfort zone. There are other tricks up the cunning course setter’s sleeve, such as throwing battues upside down and throwing rabbit clays in the air so that the clay loses speed faster than expected – sneaky devils.

Overall, the biggest advantage to joining the circuit is the exposure to a wider variety of targets, courses, grounds and environments. This experience should reduce the uncertainty that so many seem to suffer from when travelling to the flagship events such as the British and English Opens. Development is personal, and rightly so. Nonetheless some will naturally wish to push themselves further and faster than others, and this question will always remain: Is an average score that is based on a very limited number of grounds really a true representation of your ability?

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