Shotgunning is one of the original SSAA disciplines with the original set of rules established in 1988. With the increasing popularity of Sporting Clays or Simulated Field events SSAA developed and adopted versions of 5-Stand and Sporting Clays to promote as SSAA matches. In January 2006 a new Shotgun Rule Book was approved with rules for these matches together with rules for High/Low Field Shotgun events.
5-Stand is named for its five shooting stations (stands or cages) that are placed in a straight line near each other. It is a Sporting Clays layout in a much smaller area. The five shooting stations are surrounded by up to eight traps that present a variety of clays that converge in front of the competitors. Clays can be going away, incoming, crossing, overhead from behind, running rabbits, curling battues or any other variety of target available. Targets can be presented as singles or as a variety of pairs. 5-Stand layouts are often established using the Down the Line and Skeet trap houses at gun clubs to which additional traps are added. Each trap location is numbered. As competitors move to each station they get a different target angle from the fixed traps.
A round of 5-Stand is 25 targets with the same targets presented at each station. In front of each stand is a ‘menu board’ on which is listed the numbers of the traps that will present targets at that station. However, with the SSAA version of 5-Stand, these targets are presented in an unknown, random order giving the competitor more of an element of field shooting conditions. Just before a pair is released a hooter or small siren sounds to alert the competitor that a pair is coming.
The target sequence is often controlled by a computer controller or the traps can be manually released by an operator following a printed program. 5-Stand is a visually appealing spectator sport as all layouts are different.
As its name suggests, Sporting Clays is designed to simulate field shooting of such game as partridges, pheasant, ducks, rabbits, quail and other small game. A round consists of 25 targets.
The targets are set up around a course, which the competitor walks, halting at each station to shoot whatever targets are thrown. All shooters get the same targets from each station with the target sequence entered on a ‘menu board’.
The variety is endless, and so are the types and colors of targets thrown, the angle of their throw and the speed with which they are thrown. They can be singles or doubles, from in front or from behind, low or high, straight away, crossing, quartering or incoming, from either side, in the open or partly hidden by trees, bushes or other obstacles. Many targets must be hit in a small zone of fire, perhaps between the trunks of a couple of trees, or perhaps in the case of a low target, before hitting the ground. Combinations of targets can be thrown from the same trap and a number of different targets can be thrown while a shooter remains on the one station.
Field Shotgun (Low-Field) and High-Field Shotgun
The matches are shot off pads that are either level with, or one metre back from the front of the trap house. The pads for Low Field can be either a metre above or below the trap. There are ten shooting stations, five on each side of the trap, and with High Field, the trap house is around nine metres above the ground. A number of clubs have the Low Field house at ground level, in the bottom of the tower that holds the High Field house.
A major difference between the positioning of the Low Field shooting pads and Down the Line, is that the Low Field pads are situated almost level with, or a little behind the trap house, whereas with Down the Line, the pads are situated at various distances, beginning at 11 metres back behind the trap. High Field has the shooters in front of, and on both sides of the tower, looking up and backwards to see the target emerge.
In all SSAA Field Shotgun events, the gun must be clear of the shoulder until the target appears (often called ‘gun down’). A round of Field Shotgun is 25 targets.
Other Shotgun Matches
Some SSAA Branches, because of their access to clay target equipment or other shotgun clubs also shoot versions of Down the Line, Skeet, Ball or Tower matches using a variety of rules.
Safety is paramount and various safety measures are employed at shoots to ensure that all competitors, trappers, referees, scorers, visitors and any others are completely protected.
Whilst there are a number of very expensive shotguns around, a top of the range gun is not an essential piece of equipment. As with all shotgun events, gun fit is very important, but new shooters will find the more experienced shooters willing to give advice on gun fit, style and technique to help them choose a suitable shotgun. On most ranges, the shooters are happy to give newcomers a few shots out of their guns, so that fit and style can be established. By going along to a shoot, a new shooter can be given a considerable amount of help and advice before venturing into the field of shotgun purchase. Good second hand guns are available and this is a good starting point for anyone interested in giving clay target shooting a go.
Shotguns that are generally suitable for 5-Stand and Sporting Clays events have sporting style stocks and variable chokes.
SSAA rules permit the use of cartridges up to 32 grams (1 1/8 ounces) no larger than No 6 shot. Many competitors use 28 grams (1 oz) cartridges very effectively. Reloaded cartridges are permitted.
A shotgun vest is a very important piece of equipment. They have several large pockets for cartridges and shoulder padding to dampen recoil. Hearing and eye protection is strongly recommended as is enclosed footwear. Some competitors use glasses with a variety of colored lenses to improve the visibility of clay targets in certain conditions.
Most states conduct 5-Stand State Titles annually culminating in the National 5-Stand Championships. These are held on a rotational basis in most states. From the National Championships the SSAA Australian Shotgun Team is selected to represent Australia and SSAA at the New Zealand 5-Stand Championships that are held each February. Teams compete for the Trans Tasman Trophy and other individual trophies and prizes.
SSAA sponsors an Open Team of five competitors to attend while the Shotgun Discipline sponsors a Graded Team of five competitors (A, B, C, Veterans and Ladies) with outstanding Juniors being sponsored by SSAA.
To be eligible for selection in the SSAA Australian Shotgun Team members must:
1. be a current SSAA member,
2. have competed in a State Titles,
3. have competed in and been selected at the National Championships,
4. hold an Australian passport, or be eligible to acquire one;
5. be available to compete at the NZ Championships in February; and
6. be willing to represent Australia and SSAA at all times in a professional and sports-person-like manner.
An annual National Sporting Clays Championship is conducted on a rotational basis in most states.