Throw a party
Do-All Clay Cannon fun for all, finds Daniel O’Dea
I was never blessed with a good arm for throwing. As a boy I always seemed to come off second best in a backyard game of branding which I guess is like playing dodgeball but with a tennis ball – no court and more pain. I never had the distance or power of my brother or cousin and ended up the one with most welts and bruises at the end of the day. Later, as an adult, for years I shot competition clay target and even achieved a AA Trap grade but was never tempted by the idea of being a hand-thrower for clay targets on the farm or for practice while on a hunt.
Sure I understood hand-throwers provided a mechanical advantage but it’s still a manual system and seemed like a fair bit of effort to me. You always needed a mate with a good arm and where’s the fun for them if after your turn on the gun you can’t reciprocate on the thrower? The idea of buying an actual clay target trap did cross my mind a few times, especially as cheaper and more portable options became available, but still represented a reasonable outlay in funds. More recently my interest was spiked when I received a Facebook post from a mate showing a new product from Do-All Outdoors called the Clay Cannon, a handheld clay launcher. The accompanying short video was enough for me and I immediately flicked an email to Outdoor Sporting Agencies, the Do-All Australian agent, requesting one for review.
A few weeks later I had my hands on a Do-All Outdoors Clay Cannon and was in slight bewilderment as to why I hadn’t seen anything quite like this on the market before. It’s almost a work of genius in its simplicity and in my mind is to clay target throwing what a slingshot is to hurling marbles. To break it down you have two halves of a hard plastic shell shaped like a quarter piece of pie with a spring-loaded arm in the centre and a pistol grip handle with trigger release at one corner. Three short rail sections allow for fitment of a vertical grip on either flat side of the device or along the horizontal base. Just behind the pistol grip is a large orange knob for tensioning the spring while forward an orange-buttoned cross-bolt safety provides prevention of accidental discharge.
The whole deal arrived flat-packed in a carboard box and required the minimum of assembly. Basically all there is to be done is attach the supplied vertical grip to one of the three available rail sections then screw on the orange spring tensioner knob. You could say you have to do little to put the Do-All into action.
To operate you must first set the tension by rotating the orange knob to increase or decrease the spring tension ‑ clockwise increases and anti-clockwise decrease – which in turn controls the speed and distance of clays thrown. A small window cut forward of the tension knob on both sides (marked Min and Max) lets you see the end of the spring which transverses along as it loads up under tension, giving a visual reference as to how much tension you’ve set on the throwing arm.
To cock the Clay Cannon you must ensure the safety’s in the ‘off’ position then place two fingers on the tip of the throwing arm and pull it back through its ark until it locks into position on the trigger sear with an audible click. You then put the safety back on before loading your clay or clays on to the throwing arm. As the trigger and sear are a simple one-piece unit and the cross-bolt safety locks it in position it needs to be off to actually cock and lock the Clay Cannon.
Clays can be loaded as singles, stacked or nesting pairs and the Clay Cannon will accept Mini, Midi, Standard and International clay targets – all you do is place the clay or clays upright on the throwing arm. There’s a bump towards the bottom of the throwing arm and it’s recommended clays be positioned closest to this (nearer the centre of the unit). The position is also marked with two arrowed stickers, one each side (inside) between the shell halves marked ‘Load Here’ and while these are a little hard to see, they do offer clear direction as to where you need to place the clay. It’s noted in the instructions that where you place the clays will affect the speed and direction of when they leave the throwing arm which appears to be covered with a black strip of heavy grit tape for gripping and launching.
The mechanism and operation is simplicity itself. When you cock and lock the arm it loads up the spring tension and stores its energy. Place clays on the throwing arm and when the trigger’s pulled the energy is released and throwing arm catapults them off into the wild blue yonder. The unit is ambidextrous and can be fired with either flat side down but clays must be loaded upright to suit, in other words the clay itself must be upright in the Clay Cannon when launched. A caution sticker either side indicates the ‘Launch Zone’ with arrows so you’ve a clear idea of which way to point it on firing.
Eager to give it a workout I dropped into Horsley Park Gun Shop and picked up a box of clay targets (they’re about $40 for a box of 150). With clays in hand all you need is a mate to run the Do-All Clay Cannon, your favourite shotgun and a couple of boxes of shells with shot size of around 7 to 7.5 being ideal. But it’s all about having fun so whatever shotgun and shells you have on hand can work within reason, meaning you wouldn’t be using buckshot or solid slugs.
There are no real tricks to using the Do-All Clay Cannon as it’s pretty easy to cock and load while the arrows clearly display the launch direction, making it simple to point the right way. As with any firearms activity safety is paramount, so naturally the operator of the thrower should always be standing to the side and rearward of the shooter and muzzle, likewise the backdrop must be adequate and safe for both fall of shot and broken targets.
Once you’ve mastered the knack of throwing targets with the Clay Cannon, achieving both distance and height won’t be a problem and producing great shooting targets will come easily. It’s also quite a lot of fun for the operator, certainly better than a hand-thrower which can be a chore and if I had to fault anything at all perhaps it would be the heavy trigger release. Let’s just say you’re not going to launch a target by accident based on the sample unit provided. Perhaps it might get better with use but in the scheme of things this is a minor criticism.
Totally portable and requiring no batteries the Do-All Outdoors Clay Cannon can be a great addition to your shooting kit for practice or just to have fun around the hunting camp. As mentioned, Do-All Outdoors clay throwers and products are distributed by Outdoor Sporting Agencies. Visit www.osaaustralia.com.au Pricing in stores varies so consult your local dealer.