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The case for Indoor Clay Targets (ICT)

The aim of Indoor Clay Targets (ICT) is to increase the number of people actively engaged in outdoor clay shooting.

Just like shooting outdoors, ICT is fun - an enjoyable social activity with some friendly competition thrown in.

Most people taking part in ICT will not have a shotgun so we are developing an Indoor Laser Shotgun (ILS).

What do you think?

This page is about increasing participation in clay shooting.

Please show this page to your shooting, and non-shooting, friends.

Whatever you think, for or against, please get in touch by email and let us know:

Comments so far are shown at the end of this page.

Medal winner

Clay shooting is a medal winner for Team GB.

Shooting was a foundation sport in the modern Olympics and in 1908 the GB number 1 team took gold in trap shooting while the number 2 team took bronze. Alexander Maunder took individual bronze.

More recently we have had John Braithwaite (gold, 1968), Richard Faulds (gold, 2000 - photo top above), Ian Peel (silver 2000), Peter Wilson (gold, 2012 - photo above), Steven Scott (bronze, 2016), Edward Ling (bronze, 2016), Matthew Coward-Holley (bronze, 2020).

Low participation base

Despite clay shooting being a medal winner for Team GB, of the 23,000 members of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, probably fewer than 4,000 shoot competitively.

When asked, shooters give a variety of reasons for not taking part in competitions:

  • Cost: it involves a lot of cartridges and clays - plus entrance fees.
  • Time: shooting at national and international level requires lots of time-consuming practice and coaching.
  • Weekend shooters do it for a cob, a coffee and a chat with friends during an informal shoot.
  • Lack of confidence - they don't feel they have a chance of winning.
  • Not being a competitive person.
  • Only in the CPSA (or anything else) for the insurance.
  • Not shooting enough to get a classification for handicap competitions.

Compared to other sports, competitive clay shooting has a very small base from which international team members can be selected - even volley ball has 49,000 participants!

Why such low numbers of clay shooters?

Cost and convenience are the main barriers to entry for competitive clay shooting.

  • Shotguns - not cheap.
  • Insurance - normally via membership of a national organisation.
  • Shotgun certificate - a necessary delay requiring police checks.
  • Security - the legal requirements for security are very strict.
  • Membership of a local club or shooting ground.
  • Cartridges and clays. With cartridges purchased by the thousand, the average cost per shot (clay plus cartridge) is about 55p - £13.75 per round of 25 targets.
  • Travel - shooting grounds are in the countryside away from public transport.
  • Lessons and coaching don't come cheap.
  • Weather - clay shooting is outdoors with a closed winter season and no indoor facilities.

Compare all this with the cost to a young person of purchasing a football, cricket bat or tennis racket. Competitive 5-a-side football costs about £8 per week - less than the average UK pocket money for a 14 year old!.

The minimum age for a shotgun certificate is 18 and, even if a shotgun is available from a parent or friend, a young person (under 16) must be supervised at all times by the shotgun owner or adult aged at least 21. All these are barriers to young people having a go at clay shooting.

Clay shooting requires a major investment by shooting grounds with between 20 and 50 acres of land required to offer all disciplines. Olympic trap layouts (like the one shown below at Doveridge) are particularly costly to install because they require an underground bunker with 15 trap machines. They also require regular attention to ensure the traps are set up according one of the nine settings tables in the ISSF rule book.

With few Olympic trap layouts available in the country, people have to travel considerable distances for practice and competitions. You need deep pockets, or lots of sponsorship, to shoot Olympic trap.

The proposal

The proposal is to introduce Indoor Clay Targets (ICT) as a very low cost way for people of all ages to enter the sport and to provide facilities for coaching and practice as people's skills improve.

ICT would bring the cost of practising 25 targets down to under £2.00.

Over the last 20 years, indoor clay shooting, using simulators such as DryFire, has proved to be a very effective way to practice the sport - with a level of feedback that is impossible outdoors.

Worldwide, over 20,000 people have purchased DryFire for use at home - including national, international and World champions. In the USA it is being used to take teams of school students from novice to state and national champions in a single season! (Note: DryFire is Derbyshire invention!)

In this example of DTL the shooter has fired twice. The first shot, taken 1.08 seconds after clay release, was low and to the right of the clay, the second, taken 2.43 seconds after release, was a hit at 50m. The "error" value shows how far the centre of the shot pattern was from the centre of the clay at its closest point.

Aims for Indoor Clay Targets (ICT)

  • To increase the number of people who take part in clay shooting.
  • To increase the number of people who take part in competitions.
  • To introduce more people to clay shooting.
  • To introduce young people to clay shooting.
  • To provide year-round facilities for practice and coaching for people of all ages.
  • To provide facilities for paralympic practice and coaching.
  • To reduce the entry cost into the sport.
  • To reduce the cost of practice and instruction.
  • To provide real-time ICT national (or even international) competitions and leagues over the Internet.

    It seems obvious to us that when people start to do well at indoor competitions they will be keen to take their new skills outside - with a high chance of success.

    It's the old truism: "confident shooters shoot more and confident shooters enter more competitions" - a win, win for shooting grounds, shooting organisations, and cartridge/shotgun manufacturers.

    It's also a buzz for a young person in England to know that they are shooting in a real-time competition against someone of the same age in South Africa (or anywhere else - time zones permitting). Using things like Zoom means that such competitions would not only be real-time, they would also be face-to-face!

  • To reduce travel costs and make venues more accessible.
  • To identify the national and international champions of tomorrow.

ICT isn't like Laser Clays which requires you to shoot directly at the target. ICT takes into account everything that influences where a clay goes and where the shot pattern goes - it requires the same angular movement ("swing"), and the same amount of lead, as when shooting outdoors.

ICT:

  • can be carried out in a space no larger than 4m x 4m x 2.4m (13' x 13' x 8').
  • is available year round - days and evenings - in the warm and dry,
  • can bring shooters to venues in even the worst weather.
  • is quiet - so no objections to noise.
  • can be used for practice, coaching or competitions.
  • is based on the DryFire simulation system in use worldwide by over 20,000 clay shooters.
  • requires exactly the same skills as outdoors.
  • supports all disciplines (trap, skeet, sporting) at all levels up to International World and Olympic.
  • provides a nursery for the young World and Olympic champions of tomorrow.
  • provides a level of feedback that is impossible outdoors.
  • skills learned with ICT can be transferred directly to the outdoors.
  • does not require cartridges or clays,
  • is totally safe.
  • makes clay shooting more visible at venues and therefore attracts new members.
  • can be very profitable for a venue operator.

Cost of setup

Assuming space is available with a suitably painted wall, the cost of an ICT setup would be:

One or more ICT-LP systems will be required for users without their own shotguns. Cost not yet known.

A permanent or collapsible screen can be used if there is no suitable wall: approximate cost: £750.

This assumes use of a suitable laptop - the DyFire software runs under Windows 10/11 or Apple MacOS.

What does it need to take off?

ICT is a variation on clay shooting which has been in existence for over 100 years.

For ICT to become accepted and widely available it requires a number of things to come together.

  • Support at a national level to define rules and run competitions.

    A national organising body should have sufficient vision and drive to work with Sport England, UK Sport and British Shooting to show how ICT could function alongside other sports to provide a community facility.

    Clay shooting is a skill sport enjoyed by tens of thousands of people - it is a safe sport requiring great skill and it deserves better nationwide indoor facilities alongside other sports.

  • Venues - see below.
  • Equipment - see below.
  • Support: an opportunity for organisations and manufacturers in the shooting industry.
  • Shooting grounds with the vision to see that an ICT room would increase year-round footfall and provide additional facilities for coaching and practice.

Venues

ICT venues can be inside existing sports facilities or can be custom built.

A venue suitable for ICT would also be suitable for practising the laser shooting part of the Pentathlon or the new and exciting sport of "Laser Run" shooting

Existing facilities

Shooting grounds, local authority sports centres, school sports halls, golf clubs, football clubs, gyms, hotels, village halls - even a garden/entertainment centre!

Sports hall

ICT requires only 4m x 4m of floor space and 2.4m of height so multiple ICT "rooms" would fit along the walls of a sports hall. Sport England has some excellent documents on sports hall design and income.

ICT rooms don't need to be permanent - fold-out or pull-out side walls would make setup simple and quick.

ICT requires subdued lighting for the projected images so a fold-out or pull-out top would be required where external lighting cannot be turned off or dimmed.

Golf clubs and golf simulators

Golf simulators already have most of the requirements to run Indoor Clay Targets:

  • Sufficient space.
  • A large screen.
  • A projector.
  • Subdued lighting.
  • A suitable enclosure.
  • PC or laptop.

Wordcraft's new range of WiFi simulators are battery operated and require no wires.

The DryFire Projection System Sensor Unit (DPS-SU) may be placed on a stand or tripod so changing from golf to Indoor Clay Targets and back again takes under a minute - and adds a new and exciting flavour to an existing golf simulation system.

A dedicated ICT enclosure would take up the same mount of space as a golf simulator:

Squash court

A squash court would provide space for a "squad" of five shooters to to shoot a round (25 targets).

A round takes 15 minutes - so 20 shooters an hour, at £2 per shooter, would generate £40 an hour.

Custom built

Garden room manufacturers have seen increased demand during lockdowns.

A recommended design for an ICT "room" would provide an ideal environment for indoor clay targets.

Promoting a brand and generating revenue

Shotgun and cartridge manufacturers might like to consider installing an ICT room at existing shooting grounds to build brand-awareness, to allow shooters to practise and to provide additional revenue for ground owners.

Imagine if one of the leading shotgun manufacturers was forward thinking enough to bring out a low cost indoor "shotgun" along the lines outlined below for the ICT-LP. Think of the impact that would have on the number of young people entering the sport - and the number of shotguns sold for outdoor use.

Equipment

ICT provides opportunities for manufacturers to provide:

  • Custom built ICT rooms for clubs, shooting grounds or individuals.
  • Semi-permanent ICT rooms for sports halls with fold-out or pull-out walls and top.
  • Projection equipment: projectors, screens.
  • Shooting stands for projector and simulator.
  • Secure storage racks for those who bring their own shotguns.

Indoor Laser Shotgun

We are working on the design of an Indoor Laser Shotgun (ILS) specifically for use with ICT.

Please click here for more information.

Factors taken into account by ICT

This list shows some of the factors ICT takes into account when calculating how far the centre of a shot pattern is from the centre of the clay when closest to it.

  • Clay type and shape: standard, midi, mini, battue, rabbit etc.
  • Angle and speed at which the clay is released.
  • How the clay "flies" - quickly at the beginning then "floating" towards the end..
  • Energy required to break the clay at any point during its flight.
  • Shooter's position in relation to the trap when the clay is released.
  • Wind direction and speed - wind has a dramatic effect on the clay's trajectory.
  • Gun type: 12 bore, .410 etc.
  • Barrel length.
  • Chokes in each barrel.
  • Cartridge muzzle velocity.
  • Shot weight and size.
  • Expansion of the shot pattern over time/distance.
  • Distribution of pellets within the shot pattern at any time.
  • Energy remaining in each pellet at any time.

A hit is called when sufficient pellets, with sufficient remaining energy to break the clay, strike it when the shot pattern is closest to the clay. It also depends on the angle the clay is presenting to the shot pattern at this time - a belly-on clay is more likely to be broken than an edge-on one because it will be struck by more pellets.

ICT also displays gun movement - the path taken by the muzzle from the time "Pull" is called until the gun is dismounted. Smooth gun movement, from target acquisition to follow-through, is critical for consistent success.

Comments so far

  • "I think it's a great idea - but you will be up against entrenched and conservative attitudes within the sport."
  • "I like the idea of real-time competitions against people all over the country. Do we win prizes?"
  • "I think Olympic shooting will go the way of croquet and cricket and be dropped from the Olympics - there's just too much prejudice against the sport and against guns."
  • "I'm mixed about it. While I see the training opportunities provided, it would be good to focus on the positive aspects of it rather than using negative points. Shooting simulators definitely have a place and a purpose - the recent opening of the Clay Bar in London demonstrates another use and another way to introduce people to clay shooting. BASC use a simulator to introduce people to clay shooting and it is definitely a great way."

    "We need to be cautious that simulators are used in addition to actual shooting - you don't want to give the Olympic Association, or the ISSF, fuel for replacing clay shooting with a simulated version. Already we have seen the replacement of actual shooting in the modern pentathlon with laser targets."

  • "Personally I really like the idea so I showed the page to people at the club this morning and got a mixed response:

    'I wouldn't use it' - I think he missed the point!

    'I might go along one evening a week for practice during the winter.'

    'I'm all for it if it brings more people into the sport.'

    'You will never get anything with guns into sports halls' - a fairly typical defeatist attitude and, I assume, that's why the ICT-LP is being developed.

    'That ICT-LP looks fun - it would certainly appeal to my kids.'

    'That ICT-LP looks stupid - nothing like the real thing - the feel would be completely wrong' - I told him to keep an open mind and wait to see.

    'That would really annoy the cartridge manufacturers!' - I found that strange because if more people end up shooting outdoors then surely cartridge manufacturers would sell more ammo?

    'I could run weekly coaching evenings in the local village hall - where do I sign up?'

    'But you don't break anything - so what's the point?'

    'The CPSA won't like it' - I said that somebody will have to define the rules for any indoor competitions.

    'You'll have to wait until Covid is over to try that out.'