The Vocabulary of Shooting

We have set out below a useful guide to some of the terminology used in clay shooting. This will be especially valuable to someone new to the sport with little or no knowledge of the specific vocabulary used in shotgunning. 


Gat, Shooter, Old Betsy.

Terms of affection generally used by the Elm Farm Boys to refer to their Browning or Miroku shotguns


Light Sabre or Post Office Gun.

A black plastic gun. Richard has got one.


A Miss or Miss

The word used to describe what often happens once one of the Elm Farm Boys pulls the trigger.


Shoot or shooting

The most fun you can have standing up. For the avoidance of doubt, Robin is standing up in all the photographs on this web site. For the avoidance of any confusion, the purest form of shooting, the one to which all humans ultimately aspire, is shooting at a moving target, usually airborne, with a shotgun. 


A term of abuse


Clay or Clay Pigeon.

The object of our attentions. They are frisbee like discs made out of a pitch and plaster of Paris mixture. Received wisdom says that it takes solid hits by three pellets to break one. Sometimes they are made of made of steel or titanium. You can can tell which ones were metal after you shoot at them as they are the ones that never seem to break, even when we are dead certain we have hit them.

Side by Side

When we walk between stands, we generally walk side by side in pairs so that we can more easily discuss why Scouse can't hit low going away birds for love nor money. A side by side is also an archaic form of shotgun. Manny has got one that is older than he is, which is quite some going.

Semi Automatic

A form of shotgun much beloved by the cousins. A semi auto only has one barrel, so for the usual pair of clays it has to  eject the used shell from the first shot take the second shell from the magazine and put it into the breech ready for the second shot. It does this automatically hence the nomenclature.


Skeet Vest.

A sort of shooting overall with large pockets that can be loaded up with enough cartridges for the shoot. Scouse's vest only has one pocket. Skeet Vests come in all shapes and sizes, which is good cos Robin needs an XXXX wide, XX short fitting. Richard is looking for a pink one with faux fur edging, but they dont seem to do them in his size.



This is the command used to launch a clay, most of our problems start at this point.

On report

A pair of targets, the first launched on the command of 'Pull' (see above) the second launched when the shooter shoots at the first target.

Sim Pair

Simultaneous pair. Two targets are launched at the initial call of 'Pull'. If Scouse is buttoning, you may well get sim targets when they are supposed to be On Report.


A form of torment where one shoots at 25 targets in quick succession, in a sort of monastic silence.. Skeet is shooting (see above) with all the fun drained out of it.



In our case Trap is primarily DTL, we've shot ABT, but whatever version we shoot it is an opportunity for Richard to use two boxes of shells to shoot at 25 targets irrespective of a first barrel kill..

Trap, i.e. the machine not the discipline.

This is the device that launches the clay into the air for us to shoot at. It is controlled by a small handset with a couple or three buttons. Hence to control the trap and launch clays at the shooters command is 'to button'. Usually each of the Elm Farm Boys, on arriving at a stand, takes the view that someone else will button, so nobody actually does. Thus leaving the shooter to get frustrated that nothing happens on his first call of 'pull'. Apart from the gun going off, nothing of significance, shooting wise happens even when someone does actually pick up the handset and 'buttons'.


A target that follows a parabolic trajectory. Easily the hardest target in clay shooting and one that is only laid on by target setters who suffer from various personality disorders, says Dave. 


An electronic system used by most grounds that counts up how many clays you have launched, meaning you then pay for your actual usage. This is good because before claymate when 'honesty' systems were in place, some grounds were being ripped off by dishonest, lying, cheating scum who would shoot loads of clays but pay for a lot less. The ground had to pass on the losses incurred in the price of their clays, making shooting more expensive for the decent honest shooter. Nowadays of course, cheats have to pay for what they've used, and that is much fairer for all concerned.

Shooting Ground,

A place owned by rich people; rich because they get so much of our money.



The shape of the shot cloud formed by the pellets from the cartridge. In the right conditions you may be able to see this behind the clay. In the wrong conditions you cant see the shot, but you will know it was behind the clay,


Lead or Forward allowance 

The distance in front of the moving clay that you need to shoot in order to break it. There are four distinct leads in shotgun shooting:


Shoot 'straight at it', i.e. no lead at all.


'It only needs a bit of lead', i.e. just in front, maybe a foot or two.

'I'd give that about four feet'. A general purpose lead that can be used for many target presentations.


'That needs loads of lead'. This is the amount needed to handle distant crossers at most grounds.


In extreme circumstances, leads can be aggregated, so that a clay that needs loads of lead which is still missed behind, can be hit by adding a further bit of lead. We once saw a bird that needed the application of loads of lead plus loads more lead to hit it.


Phrases We Hear Time and Time and Time and Time and Time Again.


These phrases have been used so often,  they are etched into our communal shooting consciousness, They mean little to those outside of the Elm Farm Boys, but we thought it worthwhile explaining them here in case you ever find yourself in the queue whilst we are at the stand, and overhear them being used.

Watch this!

Dave's standard invitation when loading his first pair of cartridges on a stand. It appears to have no meaning, since nothing worth observing ever happens when Dave shoots.


Anyone got any 24s if not 28s will do?

Often heard when Scouse steps up to shoot. 


Simon, are those shells the cheap eco friendly ones?

Simon sometimes shoots this brand. The insinuation is that these are shells with no shot at all, and  therefore incapable of breaking the target. In truth we we all use them from time to time.


Where the **** is Robin,


Where the **** is Scouse.

Usually heard in the car park at about 10.20 on shoot day, when we all agreed to start shooting at 10.00. Odd really cos these two have the fastest cars of all of us.


What kept you? 

Some days we meet for breakfast before we shoot. This phrase is often used by Robin (see his bio in 'About Us') to greet us when the rest of us arrive at the Diner for Breakfast as agreed at 0830 and he has already been there for 20 minutes.


I came via the B456 across the A303 then down the contraflow on the B554. At the junction with the A14 turn left then follow the B655 until you cross over the M46, then head west on the B425 until you hit the B726, the ground was off to my left.

Richard describing his route to the ground. To be honest we all know how to get to the ground and dont tend to listen nowadays. We encourage him to shut up, he rarely does.


That's not hittable...

Dave's view of most Loopers.


I'll give you £300 for that.

Offer made by Scouse every time he sees Manny's 325 Grade 5. As women and children may read the site, we cannot print Manny's response. Manny is a farmer.


I shot 38 out of 40 last weekend,

Claim often made by Richard which is totally non verifiable as we never go to his club shoot at Much Festering in the Weeds, or wherever it is.

Do we get a discount for the ones we didn't hit?

Same old joke. We always ask the young lady on reception, and we always  get the same old answer. 

For ***** sake Scouse, the gun's only got three parts to it! 

Again, you'll hear this in the car park on shoot day. Arriving at the ground and changing his footwear, is only part of Scouse's pre shoot ritual. His 325 consists of three parts: The stock/receiver, the barrels and the fore end. A child could assemble the gun in 30 seconds, even in the dark. It takes Scouse 15 minutes, in broad daylight. No one knows why, it is one of life's great mysteries.

Who's got the counter?

Pretty much every shooting ground nowadays has the Claymate system. The system uses a plug in counter that you take from stand to stand to record how many clays are used. We often lose it, and there is a panic until we find it again. The worry is always that we've left it at the last stand for the next squad of shooters. Shooting is expensive enough with Richard's duff Beretta, (see Gun Reviews) without paying for other folks shooting as well.