I've wanted to ask this for a long time, but always backed out for the obvious reason that many people are non-believers when it comes to the subject of seeing the shot cloud in the air in the vicinity of a clay bird. When I began shooting sporting clays in registered competition I was fortunately exposed to several top flight sporting clays pros, because they were sponsored by a close friend who owned a major choke tube company. I would hear one of them say occasionally something like this, "You're behind it and over it. I saw your shot that time". I was incredulous at first, doubtful to the extreme, but smart enough to take correction. When I corrected my sight picture after one of them would say they saw my shot I would connect. I soon became a believer, and asked numerous questions like "What does it look like?", or "Can you describe how it appears?" They had a tough time describing it, so I wondered.
I began looking more intensely at others' targets, hoping to see something, but never saw what I was expecting to see. Then, one day I saw a "disturbance" near a clay bird in the air, and it registered on me that maybe I had just seen the shot cloud. I knew kinda what to look for then, and began to see it more often. Some days I would see it several times, other days not at all. I learned that I could seldom see it against a background of trees, but rarely I could, and it would seem to "shine" for that microsecond. Most often now when I see it, it will be against a clear blue sky background, and against that background what I see is more of a disturbance in the background than any well defined picture of a shot cloud. Lighting conditions have to be right, too. I've never seen it when I'm shooting, and I never see others' shot when they smoke the bird, but do so occasionally when they miss.
It's not make believe, guys. It's real. Two of my regular shooting buddies and I can do this occasionally. If one of us is struggling with a particular presentation and missing them, we usually don't offer any suggestion when asked if we "know where he is" unless we can see the shot. When one of us sees it "clearly", and the shooter makes the proper correction, it's "dust city".
Are there any other serious clays shooters here who can ever see the shot cloud?