If you’ve just bought a gun and are looking to finesse your shooting, sporting clays might sound like a fun idea. To shoot clays, you need to go to a gun club, which for the uninitiated might seem like a big deal. The good news is, it’s not – just introduce yourself as a novice to the person manning the counter and they will help to get you started. However, there are some essentials that you need to bring with you besides your gun; you might be able to get them at the club but they’ll likely be a higher price than you can get online before you go.
Good Hearing Protection
Firing a gun many times can damage your hearing permanently, but to avoid early deafness you just need some good hearing protection. When looking for protection, look for the NRR. This stands for noise reduction rating and you should look for a higher number of 25+. If you can’t afford proper ear muff protection, you can get away with using cheap foam earplugs, but they need to be properly worn. Roll them in your fingers to compress them, then insert them into your ear canal. You should feel the foam expand.
A Cared-For Gun
This is more for your own benefit – if you don’t take care of your gun, it could jam or otherwise break in the long run. If your firearm becomes exposed to moisture or water, you should clean your gun as soon as possible to avoid early failure. Ready and Armed has some good guides on caring for and cleaning your gun if you don’t know how. In most instances, it’s probably okay to clean your gun every few months, but if you use a semi-automatic, you will find slower performance with potential reliability issues if it’s not cared-for enough.
You don’t want to get caught in the eye by unburned powder or shards from a target, these can lead to lacerations and even blindness. That’s why safety glasses are important when you’re shooting. Make sure you use dedicated trap shooting glasses designed specifically for clay shooting instead of simply sunglasses, as shooting glasses are shot-proof while sunglasses will shatter with impact.
This isn’t essential, but if you’re shooting with a semiautomatic, it’s good courtesy to make sure your hulls don’t hit the person next to you. You can slide a rubber band around the receiver over the ejection port as a quick fix, or you can get a proper catcher that’ll put you back about $20.
This is more for your benefit. When you’re going around a course, it can be annoying to carry a box of shells around with you, or continuously fish them out of your pockets. Instead, you can get a pouch for your shells that has pockets for live and dead shells. Alternatively, you can use a shooting vest instead of a shell-pouch. This has the additional benefit of offering some protection for your shoulders in the form of padding, as well as being able to contain all of your glasses, gloves and choke tubes.