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 Post subject: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:30 am 
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Okay, how many pellets does it take to break a visble piece off of a clay target? Let's say we are using #9 lead at 1200 fps.

An experiment that was undertaken went like this. Took a 28 gauge hull, loaded normally except for shot, placed one number nine lead pellet atop of a load of felt fillers, crimped normally. shot at a low one.......no breaks. Tried this two more times. and so on with two and then three pellets, etc. When we got to five pellets we started having breaks.......birds half in two etc. Everytime. Will it do same with other gauges, don't know. Prove much, probably not statistically. Interesting, yes!

Ever try anything like this?



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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:12 am 
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I have read opinions from international competitors that 3 pellets is the number. They do a lot of pattern density work.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:30 am 
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It takes all 703 pellets for me to break a target!! :lol:

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:02 am 
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lots of flaws in the experiment. You do not know how may of the shot has hit the clay. Did you look at a pattern at the distance you were breaking the clay? It still could be just one hitting it.

I don't know how anyone could do an experiment to come up with an answer that had any validity. It might work if you suspended a clay at a set distance and put tissue paper in front of it and marked the outline and and shot at it, I would guess you could see if the shot hit the clay that way. That might be another approach. Any holes outside the clay outline would not be hits.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:11 am 
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Most folks into the analytical side of chokes and patterns that I have seen use three pellets as the minimum to ensure breakage of a clay target.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:14 am 
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I suspect that someone at some point in time did some reliable experiments to justify that too.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:18 am 
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I have always heard that it takes three pellet hits to reliabily break a clay target. That estimate was first put forth by Don Zutz who did a ton of testing on shotguns and loads, back in the 60's, 70's & 80's. He was probably the most respected source of info we've had so far.

That said, one SC course i used to shoot at had a rabbit target that had 17 holes through it and it was still in one piece.


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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:34 am 
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Hard to tell! But it is not unusual to find unbroken rocks with 2 or more holes in them. And those after hitting the ground too. Who knows? If it is the right one in the right place, just one! I've seen some breaks that I though must have just been scared enough to break! Best policy is get as many on the rock as possible. Like someone said, 17 holes in a bunny and still not broken? I hope he didn't lose the class by one rock! :cry:

Of course, the opposite is sometimes true. I lost first place in a class at a Lewis Class Sporting Clays event by one rock. I was shooting with an old Trap shooter and he swore up and down he saw a chip. Nobody else did. They gave me the rock. Guess how many rocks TOO many I broke to win the class and the $300? Yup! Just one. :cry:

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:44 am 
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I would have to say just enough to make a visible chip! :wink:


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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:18 pm 
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I read in the book "Breaking Clays" by Chris Batha that it takes several pellets if you hit the edge (Skirt) where the target is the thickest. A moderate amount if you hit the top (Dome) and a few if you hit the underside (Belly). So I think we need to add the locations of the pellets striking the target into the calculation.

Did you do the test at one station or several stations? If you used several stations, High and Low I'd give more weight to the validity of your test.

I've got to say I love that you love this sport so much that you would take the time to load the shells and perform the experiment. Double kudos’ to you!
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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:27 pm 
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I can believe that about rabbits...those targets are intentionally hard so you can roll them without breaking most of the time.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:22 pm 
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Kinda like asking how long is a piece of string. Things like whether it's an incoming, outgoing or crossing target, how soon out of the trap etc.

It's effectively a physics equation - force/mass/acceleration of the pellet versus force & tensile strength of the clay.

The question you really need to be asking is 'do you want to rely on only three pellets to break the target?'. If you do, take a 22 Shot Shell to the range.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:01 pm 
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I went to my usual range a while ago and got there before they opened. I was the only one there so I deceided to walk the fields and gather up some of the unbroken birds as the rifle shooters like them at times for targets. I found MANY with 1 hole or 2 unbroken. I found several with 3 holes and a couple of "skid" marks. There were also some with 4 holes/hits, but I found none with 5 or more hits in one piece. Not totally scientific, but I am somewhat convinced that 3 is the MINIMUM amount of hits to break a clay bird. Then again, I remember a club going out and buying some Remington clays to finish up a Trap shoot where many people got "smoke" and no pieces at all, including me. In fact I remember seeing the bird and there was a LOT of smoke, yet , no peices whatever. I suppose it also depends on how well or not well they are made.


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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:36 pm 
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Rem targets were known for that, great smoke when you get into one, but at the same time this meant a LOT of target breakage. I'll stick with the White Flyer targets, if you are on, they break.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:45 pm 
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Aww, come on,guys. We all know all it takes to break a target is one "golden BB". :D :D

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:48 pm 
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I always have at least one golden BB in every reload,
i often need it.
Although i've never lost a class due to lack of pellets,
i did lose a whole class due to leaving my safety on at a state shoot, lost class by one bird.
maybe i need a golden safety.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:37 pm 
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Interesting, anyone know how many "Golden BB's " Winchester loads in a AA hull?


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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:34 pm 
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LOL @ UltraMag! Reminds me of shooting H1 a few weeks back. Dropped a shell in (I tend to shoot the singles with only one shell in in competitions to force me to concentrate on the second single).....Called, pulled trigger, nothing but click!

Only then did I realise my last action in putting the gun away was releasing the pins with snap caps - bottom barrel, click, switch selector, top barrell click. Never did put that selector back....

No amount of golden pellets helps with that issue.

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 8:50 am 
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It generally seems to be 3 less than I loaded.

Hey, where can I buy those golden BBs??

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 Post subject: re: How many pellets to break a clay target?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:32 am 
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We were shooting Remington targets thrown on old Winchester single stack machine, station 8 high house.

We kept going, only one shell per try, to a load of 12 pellets. It made a much more impressive break than the 5 pellet loads. Have often wondered what 25 or 50 pellets would have done. Counting shot gets old quick, it was hot, so we dropped it and never went back to it.

I agree how hard or soft the target is makes a difference. I would think how much spin is put on the target throwing it would too.



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