What Ammunition Do I Need?

Jan 19, 2024

A box of Winchester ammunition.
What good is a shotgun without the ammunition to power it?

Let’s start simple. Check your local outdoor store, gun shop, or range for ammunition. If your preferred brand is unavailable, numerous online retailers will likely have it for sale on their website. 

When purchasing ammunition, it is crucial to know the gauge of your shotgun. Using 20-gauge ammunition for a 12-gauge shotgun will have disastrous consequences.

Additionally, ensure the type of ammunition is appropriate for clay target shooting. Look for labels such as “target load,” “clay target load,” “sporting clays,” or an image of a clay target on the box, as these are safe choices for a day at the range. Note that steel shot is prohibited at all shotgun ranges, so confirm that the shells you purchase are lead shot. 

Different shells with more or less speed are recommended for different games depending on the target’s speed and distance. For example, athletes will typically not use the same shells for skeet and trap. Shot size matters in each event, so make sure to consult your local gun club for that day’s ammunition recommendation.

Pro Tip: Check out Section XVI of our Best Practices Manual for additional information about rules regarding shot change and maximum feet per second.

Always ensure you have enough ammunition with you at practice or competition to complete all of your rounds. Most competitions will consist of 100 target events, but it is wise to be prepared with extra shells in case of a misfire or shoot-offs to break a tie. Always bring more ammunition than you think you will need.

Preparation is key, and it’s always advisable to double-check before leaving your house that you have all of the essential items before a competition or practice. Curious about the additional items you need for clay target sports? Visit tnwf.org/shooting-sports-essentials for more information. 

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