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Breaking Clays: Target Tactics, Tips & Techniques by Chris Batha

Did you know that trap gets its name from a cage or box that held a live pigeon, the original target? Or that "skeet" got its name via a game naming contest in which a woman submitted the name "skeet", a Scandinavian word meaning "shoot"? This interesting information comes from the history chapter of Chris Batha's new book, Breaking Clays: Target Tactics, Tips & Techniques. However, information, especially the practical variety, is by no means limited to the chapter on history.

Breaking Clays goes beyond explaining how to shoot, telling you why you miss a target and offering suggestions about how to make corrections. To quote Chris Batha, "The real purpose of this book is to help you recognize where and why you miss and to give you the knowledge to make the changes necessary to correct your mistakes. 'Fault, Cause, and Correction' is the primary focus."

I have shot three of the target disciplines covered in the book: skeet, trap and sporting clays. I am primarily a skeet shooter but not a very good one. Fellow members of my shooting club have taught me to hold my gun about halfway between the trap house and the center stake on the skeet field, and to focus my vision about halfway between the gun hold point and the trap house. However, until reading Breaking Clays, I never knew why this is done. Explaining why we should use a certain technique or why we miss is a real strength of this book.

"Over confidence results in carelessness. Superstition and rituals can be both negative and positive. If being the first in the squad is lucky for you, and you find yourself number three, it will be negative. If you have faith in a particular brand of shell it will be positive for you - if you run out, negative. These are both distractions - try to build your game without them - just concentrate on each and every shot as an entirely independent and all-important task."

There are numerous photographs, charts and diagrams to assist the reader with understanding the text. A small number of diagrams, however, were difficult to understand as there was no caption nor any explanation that I could find in the text. The large majority of visuals are well done and helpful. They compliment the text nicely.

There are numerous videos that deal with the shotgun disciplines. However, a book is a much better reference. Breaking Clays: Target Tactics, Tips & Techniques is well organized and can be easily referred to after a series of misses at your local clays course. It's an enjoyable read. Congratulations to Chris Batha for a well written and interesting book!

Copies of this book are available from:
Spaniel Journal Bookstore

Breaking Clays: Target Tactics, Tips & Techniques
by Chris Batha
Swan Hill Press
ISBN 1-904057-43-8

Don Smail

Don Smail has been actively training and field trialing English Springer Spaniels for over twenty years. He is a member of the Northeast Wisconsin Spaniel Club and resides near Wausau.

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