Re: Shotgun for Trap and Skeet
I would like to add further to the differences between Trap and Skeet and Sporting Clays.
Trap is shot starting at 16 yards and moves back depending on how well you shoot at 16. The 12 gauge is the norm here for a couple of reasons. The bird is always traveling away from you presenting a difficult edge to hit with enough pellets to break it. You are also facing the target with your gun mounted in such a way as to provide the least protection from felt recoil. The shells allowed are smaller payload now; I could be wrong but I believe they are 27 grams. The velocity is higher to provide more pellet energy to the target. Chokes are somewhat tighter to very tight to get the number of pellet hits on the target to break it.
Skeet is shot at much shorter distances and usually the presentation allows for some top, bottom and side hits. Chokes are more open because a competent skeet shooter will not shoot beyond about 18 yards or so. Softer loaded shells and smaller gauges are very common on the skeet field because the closer distance and target presentation don't require heavy loads to reliably break the targets. Competition skeet requires one to shoot 100 targets each in the 12, 20, 28 and .410 gauges as well as doubles. The top shooters, if they miss, will usually miss with a 12 gauge, not a .410! That ought to tell you something about shooting skeet well.
Sporting Clays is shot on a walking course that usually changes from event to event, with a nearly infinite variety of target presentations. Mostly "true pairs" or "report doubles". You will see different kinds of clay targets as well: batues, minis, rabbits, and bizarre presentations like the chandelle and springing teal. Many of these targets will be thrown at distances a hunter would NOT shoot at if it was a dove or quail. Very challenging. A perfect score is vanishingly rare.
As to gun and gauge; the 12 gauge is your gun of choice due to it's ammo cost and availability and versatility. Save your money and buy a GOOD shotgun. You will never regret it.
Finally, here is the most important advice for shooting clays you will ever get: "Look at the target".
Life's too short to shoot an ugly gun.....