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Ask the Instructor: Colored Targets Matter

By April 3, 2018 No Comments

Q: Why is so little attention given to the problem of target visibility and its affect on sporting clays shooters. Many shooters have trouble picking up certain colored targets against certain backgrounds. Target setters can virtually eliminate this issue by using different target colors for those presentations with backgrounds that are potentially difficult to see. Yet, I’ve never seen an article that treated this subject even casually.  Shame on us!

A: While target setters need to understand how to use target colors to maximize visibility, we can’t always blame the target setter.

To your point, when targets are set in such a way that a round of clays feels like more of an eye test than a shooting test, its time to provide some constructive criticism to the target setter or club manager. Generally speaking, target setters should use black targets against the sky and colored targets against green foliage or other dark backgrounds. Club managers should have a variety of target types and colors on-hand so the target setter can use his creativity in setting a course for maximum visibility.

Additionally, the target setter should provide the shooter with a minimum of a 2 to 3-second engagement window for each target and, when possible, take into consideration the changing angle of direct sunlight throughout the day. Following these simple guidelines helps target setters eliminate many of the target acquisition issues you raise. With that said, the target setter’s job is not an easy one.

On overcast days, an orange target can still be difficult to see against foliage. Similarly, if the sun is directly behind the shooter, sunlight reflecting off of a black target in the sky can make a target very difficult to visually acquire. At courses with an abundance of tall trees, the background of a given target may vary throughout its flight path causing the strobe effect you mentioned. Another factor effecting target visibility is weather: The sky can be blue, grey or a combination of the two. While skilled target setters take all of the abovementioned factors into account, they often go unrecognized for their effort, skill and creativity. After all, it’s impossible to please 100% of the shooters 100% of the time.

Next time you are at your local club, take the time to thank your valued target setter.

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