How to Shoot Skeet

by Ben Team
Three men practicing skeet shooting.

Three men practicing skeet shooting.

Bird-hunting enthusiast Charles Davis invented skeet shooting in the 1920s as a way for hunters to keep their skills sharp as they learned to comply with newly enacted conservation laws. Originally called “shooting around the clock,” the activity soon increased in popularity, as competitive and recreational shooters took up the sport alongside hunters. While similar to shooting trap, skeet shooting allows participants to practice a wider array of shots.

Field Layout

Whereas trap shooters fire on targets launched from several different trap houses, skeet shooters fire at targets launched from only two different trap houses. The houses launch targets along consistent trajectories that cross paths about 15 feet above the ground, half way between the two trap houses. The houses sit directly across from each other, while the shooters fire from one of eight marked positions along a semicircle behind the trap houses. The house on the left – called the “high house” -- launches targets through a window approximately 10 feet above the ground, while the window of the house on the right – called the “low house” – is only about 3 feet above the ground.

Procedure and Commands

The object of skeet shooting is to hit as many targets as possible. In total, shooters have the opportunity to fire at 16 targets launched singly, and 8 targets launched in pairs, totaling 24 shots. The extra shell – 25 shells come in most ammunition boxes – can be used to retry a missed target, or to attempt to hit an additional, 25th target. Participants move between the eight stations in groups of five, called “squads,” alternately taking their turn on the designated shooting area. This allows you to practice hitting targets that are fleeing and approaching, as well as crossing in front of you. Shooters call out “Pull!” to request the launch of the high house clay, and “Mark!” to request the low house clay.

Choosing a Shotgun and Ammo

Trap-shooting guns are usually longer and heavier than field guns, which helps you to swing the weapon smoothly. The finest trap shooting guns are usually double-barreled, over and under models, but many beginners prefer the lower price point of semi-automatic models. However, while guns designed for skeet shooting make the sport easier, you can shoot skeet with virtually any shotgun. Start with a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun when starting out, moving to the lighter gauges as your skills progress.

Techniques and Tips

To shoot skeet, you must first mount the gun against your shoulder, raise the gun so that the sights are even with your eye and begin tracking the movement of the target. Keep your stance slightly open, and be sure to raise the gun to your face, rather than the opposite. Because there is a time lag between your decision to shoot and when the pellets impact the target, you must “lead” the target, by pointing the gun ahead of its trajectory. Once you fire the shot, keep the shotgun moving along the same path. For safety's sake, keep the action open on your shotgun and wait to load the weapon until it is your turn to shoot.

Photo Credits

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