So you have you everything you need to shoot skeet. You have your shotgun with correct ammo, you have ear and eye protection, a shell holder, and a hat. So now what do you do? First, you find a place to shoot that is open to the public. Most gun clubs offer public shooting times even if it is a private club. Both the National Skeet Shooting Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation have an easy way to do this. Once you have found a club and determined the times that you can shoot, you should head over and break some targets.

Being a new person on a skeet field can be intimidating. There are so many things going on that a new shooter may not understand: where to shoot, where the targets are coming from, where they are going, how to hold the gun, and how to call for the bird, for instance. “Bird” is the term most often used for the clay target, which is an example of yet another problem for a new shooter—all the terminology. In this article, we’ll explore what to do so you feel comfortable out there and the safety rules that everyone is required to follow.

Let’s begin with safety on the skeet range. First, skeet is a little different than other shooting sports when it comes to carrying your weapon. The muzzle is not always pointed downrange because, unless you are shooting, people will always be in front of you while you are getting ready. In skeet shooting, people know that your gun is safe by always, and I will repeat this, always having your action open. That means an over/under (O/U) always has its action broken open unless you are on the station or putting the gun in a rack. A semi-auto has the action locked to the rear at all times, and a pump has the slide to the rear at all times unless you are on the station. More new shooters get spoken to about this rule than almost any other.

Second, never load a shell until you are standing on the station. Don’t even take out your shells until you are on the station. Load one or two shells, but never more than two, as you will never take more than two shots at a time on a skeet field. Next, make sure you always have your eye and ear protection on. I have been hit by target pieces and pellets while standing behind a field and watching people shoot. It’s not worth it not to wear them. Lastly, it goes without saying, but never walk in front or to the side of the person shooting. Form a line behind them and wait your turn. If you are not last, just move to the back when you are done.

Now what? You have all your gear and a good safety brief. Now it’s time to shoot.

When you show up at a club, there will be some form of a registration station. It could be a building, a tent, or even a table. This is where you will join a squad. A squad is a group of up to five people who go out and shoot a round of skeet together. This is also where you will pay the fee to shoot and possibly sign a waiver of liability. You should introduce yourself to the person taking registrations and tell them you are a new shooter. If you ask if there is someone who can help you out the first couple times, I can guarantee that there will be several shooters that will gladly do it. If not, don’t worry, as I will talk you through your first round of skeet.

Get everything ready at the car. You should have your eyes and ears on if you are near the skeet field. Put on whatever you have to carry your shells—a vest or pouch. If needed, assemble your shotgun. Make sure it is clear and the action is open. When it is your turn to shoot, move behind station four and wait for the shooters to finish their round. Remember, action open at all times. When the round is finished, you can move behind station two. There will be a rack to put your gun on and a bench. If you have someone to help you, they will quickly explain how to stand, where to look, and where to shoot the targets. If not, you’ll need to rely on the many videos available online for guidance in that regard. Be sure to remember that the targets cross at the center stake slightly left of station one. Try to break the targets right around that stake.

Skeet Shooting (Pt. 1)

Read Next: Skeet Shooting (Pt. 1)

When you get on any of the stations, you can get in a fairly good position by pointing your belly button at the low house. Then, when you are comfortable, load one shell and close the action. Call for the first bird. You do this by saying “pull” loud enough for the person holding the controls to hear. Typically they are standing right next to you, but remember that they have hearing protection on as well. When you say “pull,” the bird will come out of the high house, flying over your head. When you shoot, reload and repeat for the low house.

You do this on stations one through seven. On stations one, two, six, and seven, you will repeat this. As you will notice from the shooters ahead of you, they will shoot doubles with the second two birds. That means you call once and birds come out of the high and low house simultaneously. Don’t worry about that. Just shoot one at a time until you get used to what you are doing. When you get to station eight in the middle, you will shoot the high house first. Stand with your belly button facing directly away from station four. When you shoot the low house, you again point your belly button at the low house.

When you are done shooting, some clubs require you to pick up your empty shells and some don’t allow it. Just ask what you should do. If you are going to shoot another round right away, go ahead and put your gun in the rack and more shells in your pouch.

Remember, have fun and follow safety protocols at all times.

(Featured image courtesy of dnr.illinois.gov)