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Coyote Valley Sporting Clays Review


Coyote Valley Sporting Clays

Every year, I like to try something new. One year was skydiving, another year was axe throwing and just last year, was archery! This year, thanks to my just-as-adventurous wife, it was time to pull a trigger. Coyote Valley Sporting Clays is located in the deep mountains of Morgan Hill, just on the borderline of South San Jose. This shooting range includes two sporting clay ranges, two skeet fields, 5-stands and more. If you're new to shooting and have zero experience handling a shotgun, like myself, this facility offers private and group instruction. After completing a two hour instruction class with my instructor, Gary, I'm ready to head back to master my shooting skills.


Overview:

Private Training

Location & Directions

Arrival and Checking-In

Instructor Meet and Greet

Safety Lesson

Handling Shotgun

Practice Field

Clay Disc Fees

Final Thoughts


Private Training

If you're new to shooting, you must complete a private training course for not only yours but everyone else's safety. Last thing we need is to have someone walking the range with zero training and an accident occurs. To schedule your private training, you must call the instructor. Click here for the different instructors and their hourly rates.


Location and Directions

Coyote Valley Sporting Clays is located at 1000 San Bruno Ave Morgan Hill, CA 95037. If you live in the South Bay, you may already be familiar with this location which is the connector road for Santa Teresa Blvd. to Hale Ave. If you're unfamiliar, visitors will exit Bailey Rd. whether coming from South or North Highway 101.


As you make the right turn onto San Bruno Ave. you're going to make your way down a bumpy road which will take you to a gate directing you to continue onto the path. This path will continue to be rough and seem a bit uncertain, so if you drive a low car, be mindful of the bumps and holes. You will continue forward for about 800 meters from the gate. As you inch closer, you'll start to hear gun shots. When we arrived, parking was not an issue. However, it was a gloomy day and that may have deterred folks from visiting. From what I saw, the parking lot could hold approximately 30 vehicles. If you're wondering, parking is free.


Arrival and Checking-In


Coyote Valley Sporting Clays

After parking, we made our way to the front door of the pro shop. Note, as you get out of your vehicle, it's going to be really loud! So, prepare yourself for this experience. As you approach the pro shop, you'll see a bell to ring stating that you've arrived for an appointment. When available, a team member will come out to greet you and explain further directions. Because we had a private lesson and it was our first time, we were required to sign a waiver form and watch a five minute safety video. After the video was completed, we were instructed to enter the pro shop where the team member checked our ID's and met our instructor, Gary.


Instructor Meet and Greet

Since I've never had any experience with shooting, I was both nervous and excited. Just minutes after meeting my instructor, I was already at ease thanks to his warm welcome. Gary asked simple ice breakers such as "if I had any experience" and "why did I want to learn". After sharing some information, Gary provided ear plugs and eye protection, then we hopped into his golf cart to make our way to the practice station.


Note: I highly recommend bringing your own ear and eye protection that fit your face comfortably.


Safety Lesson

Before even touching a shotgun, Gary completed his safety lesson. During his safety lesson, Gary shared the following:

  1. How to determine which eye was dominant. My right eye was dominant for shooting. On a side note, my left eye is dominant for archery, which confused me when shooting.

  2. The type of shotgun I was using. I was using a Browning shotgun.

  3. How to pick up a shotgun.

  4. How and where to point a shotgun when checking to make sure it's unloaded.

  5. How to hold the shotgun when walking it to the shooting station.


Handling Shotgun

After completing our safety lesson, Gary showed us pictures of how pro clay shooters hold their shotguns. While keeping your finger off the trigger throughout the process, this is what I gathered for shotgun placement:

  1. Stance. Feet should be placed shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other.

  2. Place recoil pad into the divot where the clavicle and shoulder meet.

  3. Opposite trigger hand should be placed on forestock.

  4. Lower the cheek bone on top of the recoil pad. Do not lift the recoil pad up to the cheek.

  5. Align your eye with the barrel front sight.

  6. When ready, place finger on trigger.


Coyote Valley Sporting Clays

Once I got comfortable handling an unloaded shotgun, Gary shared the technique on how to aim and shoot a clay target. Essentially, when aiming the shotgun, follow the clay target when it's released and meet the target at the apex, then pull the trigger. Apex in other words, there will be a point where the clay target pauses for a split second. At that point, shoot!


Practice Station Experience

After I proved I could follow safety directions, Gary demonstrated how to load and unload the 20 gauge Browning.

  1. Unlock the bullet latch.

  2. Place hand over barrel just in case it's loaded. Note that bullets will fly out your direction if not covered; I learned the hard way!

  3. If unloaded, please two bullets in the barrel.

  4. Close the barrel.

  5. Lock the latch to load.


During our instruction, we went to four different stations. Our first practice station was the easiest. The clay target was released from back right to left and went up mid-height. After following Gary's instructions, I was excited to hit the first target with the first pull of a trigger in my life! I felt like the Terminator! Most likely, not as cool looking, but it was definitely a rush. For those who are wondering about the recoil strength after pulling the trigger, it wasn't that bad however I did feel some ache in my cheek the day after due to the placement on the shotgun.


Coyote Valley Sporting Clays

The second station was similar but the clay target was released from back left to right. Unlike the first two stations that were out in the open, the third station was in an enclosed area covered with trees. Although the clay station was directly in front of us, the clay disc would shoot forward between two trees which made it a little more difficult to follow the path of the clay disc. The fourth station was the most difficult. This station released clay disc vertically, high up into the sky. Shooting a target at this angle was extremely uncomfortable! To aim at this target, I not only had to slightly bend backwards and aim up, but also had to track the target with a slight glare of the sun beaming down from behind the clouds. Although I did hit the target at least once on this one, I'd still say it was the most difficult station.


Clay Disc Fees

So let's say you have you're own shotgun and bullets and don't need to rent any equipment. What are you paying for? You're paying for targets! As of January 2024, the fees are below:


Main course targets - .54 per target

Practice field targets - .54 per target

Skeet and trap targets - $9 for 25 targets


Final Thoughts

After having my 2 hour private instruction with Gary, I've become comfortable handling a shotgun and although I have gained the confidence to return to the range to continue learning this practice, I think I would still return one or two more times under the instruction of Gary to completely hone the skill of not only shooting but safety.


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