After a recent delve into the history of clay shooting we’ve unearthed a real treasure trove of unbelievable clay shooting facts – and some of these incredible staggering stats are too good not to share. So prepare to be amazed because we’ve got Guinness World Records Galore, the odd luxury gun or two and even some bizarre training trivia!
1). Cricket balls, stones and even potatoes were used as targets before the invention of clay targets, but the most direct ancestor of the modern-day clay is the glass ball target. Glass ball targets were brightly coloured, filled with feathers and launched by a small catapult-like trap. When hit they would shatter and throw a plume of feathers into the air. Smashing!
2). It wasn’t until 1800 that the first clays (as we know them today) were created, and because they were made of clay and shaped like saucers they quickly became known as “mud saucers”. Despite the popularity of glass ball shooting, glass targets created too much debris and mud saucers were seen as the perfect replacement.
3). Holland & Holland have been making bespoke shotguns since 1850, and their incredible craftsmanship and attention to detail makes them some of the most sought shotguns in the world. Creating these masterpieces takes time though, and in total it takes over 800 hours to produce one of their iconic side-by-side shotguns, but some things are definitely worth waiting for, wouldn’t you agree?
4). Olympic gold medallist Peter Wilson shot to fame when he bagged gold in the double trap at the London Olympics in 2012, but he owes some of his success to a bizarre training method employed by his coach Ahmad Al Maktoum. To make sure the Olympic champion could ignore all distractions whilst shooting, Ahmad used to whisper in his ear during training to try and put him off. Thankfully the trick worked and Peter held his concentration to bring home the gold.
5). Sticking with the Olympics, have you ever sat down to watch the shooting and found yourself wondering what makes the clays explode with a brightly coloured cloud of smoke? We have, and despite quizzing the boffins at The Big Shoot we’ve never managed to figure it out. It turns out we were probably overthinking it a little bit though, because it’s as simple as packing coloured chalk dust under the clay before it’s launched. The chalk dust not only makes the scorers job easier, it also lets the watching crowd know when a clay’s been hit.
6). The world record for the longest clay pigeon shot stands at 130 yards – just short of 120 meters! The incredible record was set by clay shooting legend and 26-time world champion George Digweed back in 2011, and despite numerous attempts his record is yet to be officially beaten.
7). Double and single barrelled shotguns may be the norm at most shooting grounds, but did you know you can also get your hands on three and four barrelled shotguns? That’s right, over the years multiple manufacturers have tried to improve on the standard shotgun by adding more barrels, but it’s not exactly been a great success. For smashing clays we’d suggest sticking to a decent double, but if you’re looking for an investment three and four barrelled shotguns are the ultimate collector’s item.
8). The fastest time to shoot 25 clays is a staggering 24.25 seconds – that’s a clay every 0.97 seconds! US shooter Tyler Leinbach set the record in July 2015, smashing the world record held by Brit Drennan Kenderdine by over 5 seconds.
9). Swedish gunsmiths VO Vapen are world famous for creating incredible shotguns and in 2011 they produced a record breaking rifle that cost in excess of £500,000! With only five of their famous Falcon edition rifles ever made these one-of-a-kind creations are a real collector’s item, and should any of them ever find their way to auction it’s expected they’d sell for in access of £1 million!
10). When Theodore Roosevelt’s A.H Fox Shotgun came up for auction in 2010 it became one of the most valuable shotguns in the world. The gun, which had been used on a year-long safari by the former president sold for a staggering $862,000, making it one of the most expensive shotguns ever sold at auction.