How to keep clays from breaking...

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Mar 1, 2009
... before I want them to? :)

Went to the range today to shoot some clay. We had a box of clays that was about 1/2 full. Due to weather and scheduling, this particular box has been transported in the back of a vehicle 3-4 times. We ended up with 50-75% of the clays breaking on their way out of the spring-powered launcher. I know that we probably contributed to this with multiple trips in the vehicle (Michigan roads, dirt roads, S10 Blazer) but even a new box that had just been driven home and then to the range had a fair number of "duds". None of these had large chips or really obvious defects before launching them, but it looked almost like I hit it with the shotgun as they were leaving the launcher!

Is there some sort of trick to keeping the clays intact until we use them? They say "fragile as eggs" but I have never had any eggs break while driving home! I am almost picturing some sort of foam-padded box to place the box of clays into.
Weather, especially moisture, wrecks havoc with clay targets. Constant vibrations will cause weaknesses as well. Try various places on the thrower's arm to see if one spot works better than others. On mechanical machines, poor target placement will result in more broken targets due to the arm "hitting" the target right as it launches.

If your clays were packaged like eggs, they wouldn't break as often. Conversely, if your eggs were packaged like clays, they wouldn't make it home, especially on bumpy dirt roads
Where are you purchasing the clays? I'm wondering if they are being handled rough as heck before you get them. I work at a clays gun club and its not too unusual to have 2 or 3 broke in a box when I open it up maybe 25 or 30 if the box has been dropped a couple feet. (boxes of 135) We use a UTV to haul them out to the sporting clays machines on the trail in less than smooth condition and it doesn't seem to affect them too much. Look at the clays to see if they have hairline cracks on the painted side before you launch them, if you are still having issues, it could be the machine. Check to make sure its not throwing arm smacking the clays, also make sure that the rubber edge is aligned properly with the clay and isn't worn off at an odd angle or have chips out of the edge.

As for moisture, as long as they aren't soaked in water a couple days they will be fine aside for sticking together after they dry out if they don't warp up. Picked up plenty of targets to reuse after rain on slow days.
Any chance these are Walmart clays? In my experience, they come pre-fractured. But I'd guess the long car ride wouldn't have helped.

I remember reading the blog of a fellow who was trying to get his affordable electric machine to work and found out that most of his problems were caused by the walmart clays.
Make sure the arm isn't pinching down on the clay. The clay needs to slide freely in the arm. Had the same problem as we were trying to squeeze the target slightly to hold it in the arm where we positioned it.
I go to some a little mom and pop gun range that also does skeet and trap.

We'll shoot 150 clays and have maybe 3-4 break out of the gate. They are just WalMart brand.
Hmmm, the first set of clays was bought at WalMart. Remington brand though.
The second box was from Dunhams. Champion brand.

The clay was positioned against the rubber strip on the arm of the launcher. I moved the clip down the arm a bit because the edge of the clay was near an exposed screw on the arm, but no change. Yes, the clay was already in contact with the edge of the arm before launching. Will try loosening the clip tension next time.
The arm needs to be slick and the angle of the lip unchanging relative to the base of the arm. Whenever our thrower started breaking clays a couple of us knew what to look for and what to adjust. RemOil is good.
RemOil is good. Tri Flow or something else used for mountain bikes would be good, too.

What is BAD is CLP. It turns clay dust into clay, which then hardens in the machine. Ugly. Trust me.:)
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