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#603839 10/01/21 09:50 PM
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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?


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I don't often see shot clouds and never really look for them, but once or twice I think I've seen "something". I have seen stunningly clear photos of shot intercepting mallards, but that is with the aid of a fast shutter and magnification, so not really the same thing.

It is easy to see rifle bullets that are moving at about the same speed or even faster. I can often follow them for hundreds of yards with a spotting scope, but lesser distances with the naked eye, so seeing shot patterns should be quite doable - with the right background and lighting.


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Yes, depending on the ambient light and cloud cover


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Sure. Conditions have to be just right as you mention.

I started as a trapshooter. Our club had nine traps. Our annual picnic was in late August. Late in the day during the picnic we would have a 'porch shoot' from a spot behind trap #4 even with the clubhouse porch.

With the low sun angle that time of day in late August we could see the shot cloud at long distance trap more often than not. I've seen it a few times at sporting clays, but not very often. It's elusive.

And now that I think about it the nickel plated 6's I know damn well some of those old sandbaggers were using probably didn't hurt....


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I've seen something, depending upon the light and background, but I'm not sure it is actually the shot cloud, or a refractive disturbance that occurs when the shot cloud drops below the speed of sound. As you said, I don't recall seeing it when I'm doing the shooting.

I do know for sure that you can see large caliber bullets at low velocities, such as .45 cal. pistol target loads, when the light is right.


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I doubt that I could see the shot cloud even if my somewhat deficient shooting eye (the R one) were my master eye. But if great hitters in baseball can see the stitches on a 90+ mph fastball, I'm willing to believe that some people can see the shot cloud.

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A clear, blue sky day with the sun over your back and shiny shot like that of the clever Bol ‘Dor shells and one can at times read/see the shot cloud. Instructors rely on ‘reading the barrel’ to read a miss much more so than seeing the shot cloud. It’s neat when you can see it though.


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Originally Posted by Shotgunjones
And now that I think about it the nickel plated 6's I know damn well some of those old sandbaggers were using probably didn't hurt....

When I learned to see it, many years ago, we were using a lot of White Gold shells which contained their proprietary shot, called Diamond Shot, that appeared to be nickel plated but is just polished in some manner to give it a glossy shine. That probably helped us to see it, too, as you mentioned.


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Next I guess you'll tell us you saw a Leprechaun.....

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I have seen it many times when someone else is shooting and missing. Never when they hit the target and never when I am shooting. I doubt anyone I shoot clays with uses anything other than regular lead shot.


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