History of Clay Pigeon Shooting


The United Kingdom is the birth place of many popular activities. However, clay pigeon shooting is one of the most notable contributions of the region. Clay pigeon shooting is one of the best ways to prove your worth as a marksman. It requires coordination and focus, as well as knowledge of the surroundings, as wind direction causes many problems for shooters. Perhaps it is this unpredictability that makes it so appealing to such a large group of people. Regardless, clay pigeon shooting is a sport that continues to grow in popularity. More people are participating in this endeavour than ever before, and this makes the sport’s history even more fascinating.

Clay pigeon shooting was actually derived from the original sport, which used live pigeons. This practice was carried out during the 1860’s in Britain. Essentially, a pigeon handler would release the bird in intervals into the sky. These fast-moving and unpredictable targets provided a tough challenge for even the best marksmen of this era. Once the pigeons were released, shooters took aim and fired upon them. They were awarded points for numbers of kill shots. Most of these pigeon shoots were held at upscale private clubs, but the event started to attract other shooters as well. During the 1920’s, however, the sport underwent major changes.

During the early 1920’s, there was a worldwide movement toward the better treatment of animals. As you can imagine, live pigeon shoots received plenty of attention during this era. Proponents argued that shooting captive pigeons was not only unsportsmanlike, but that it was also cruel. Most, if not all of the pigeons, were eventually killed during these contests. The sentiment for changing live shoots spread throughout the UK, and eventually the practice was outlawed. Newer, more creative targets came to fruition as a result.

One of the more interesting alternatives to live pigeons was a glass ball filled with feathers. These targets were made in an attempt to maintain a certain degree of authenticity within the sport. Once a shooter made contact with the glass ball, the feathers would of course burst outward, thus signalling a direct hit. This was a good alternative for a while, but shooters needed a bit more of a challenge. Clay pigeons were created to replace both live birds and glass balls filled with feathers. These clay pigeons had distinct advantages over other options.

Competitions began to spring up throughout the UK after clay pigeons were invented. Several different types of launch devices were also constructed to fire the clay targets into the air at great distances, thus increasing the difficulty level for the shooters. When a shooter used a shotgun to shoot a clay pigeon from the sky, it left a definite cloud of red smoke upon contact. This made it much easier for the judges to determine if the target was indeed shot. Clay pigeons were easy to make, and relatively inexpensive. They are still used in all major competitions to this day.