We’ve all struggled with a certain presentation while shooting clay sports. What if there was a way to just tell the clay thrower how to throw the same target over and over until you’ve mastered it? Well, Crazy Quail’s line of portable, automated target delivery systems are just what the doctor ordered, and then some—using a mobile app, robust wireless technology and high-quality hardware.
At the 2019 NRA World Shooting Championship, all the shotgun stages used the Crazy Quail automated clay target thrower, including the Mini. The system is quite impressive—with a wireless connection and an app, you can control not just the number and angle of thrown clays, but also build full sets of repeatable positions. You can even set up games and tournaments where every shooter gets the same exact set of clays to compete with. The design of the system is scalable for using multiple units from a single mobile device. And since it’s on wheels, the Crazy Quail Mini is portable.
How does it all work? Let’s take a look.
Crazy Quail Mini
At its heart, the Crazy Quail Mini is an automated clay target throwing machine. Using three 12-volt brushless motors along with precise braking control, the unit can rotate a full 360 degrees, roll from -30 to 30 degrees, and pitch and elevation can be set between 40 and 60 degrees. The motors themselves are powered via dual H-bridge drivers, similar to those commonly used in home appliances. Put simply, the Mini is designed for heavy-duty use. What’s more, watching the system in action is pretty cool, even before you factor in the aforementioned mobile app control.
Available for both Android and iOS, the Crazy Quail app is both easy to use and feature rich. The app adds all sorts of capabilities to the system, from individual speed control for each motor, to positional control and even a few quick commands. Users can change target direction, speed, the number of clays and more. This is in addition to the “build and play” function, where full sets of repeatable positions can be built using a real-time recording system that’s quite similar to a video editor, allowing you to play and record presentations for fine-tuning. It’s as easy as tapping a spot on a circle on your phone or tablet, and setting up a clay to be thrown with the exact rotation, roll and tilt that you choose.
Crazy Quail’s Gateway is a controller that makes communication between the mobile app and machine easy, as well at distances greater than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth can accomplish on their own. It can also be scaled up to handle more shooters—up to 256 different throwers can be controlled by one mobile device and one or more Gateways. After the Gateway is synchronized with your Mini, you can access basic functions of the Gateway without having to use a mobile device.
So it’s not exactly a drone brain, but close. The Crazy Quail Mini uses a customized PCB that sports the Atmel SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit processor, the same that’s used in the Arduino Due microcontroller that’s popular with many hobbyists. The Due (or clones) is sometimes used for the electronic brain that controls consumer-level drone craft. But, this custom PCB ups the specs a bit for the needs of this machine, specifically 900 MHz RF capability, which provides powerful communication capability between the app, the gateway and the thrower—up to 2½ miles. In rural areas with good line of sight, the Gateway and Mini can theoretically connect at up to 9 miles.
Starting at $8,500 for a Crazy Quail Mini package, this state-of-the-art clay target thrower system doesn’t come cheap. However, deep-pocketed shooters can buy one and expect to have everything they need for success. A more realistic scenario—clubs and ranges choosing to upgrade their existing systems to Crazy Quail, because the opportunities are virtually limitless. And a smart business decision, because once again, you can pretty much set up any kind of game you want with just a few units. Plus, Crazy Quail backs up all of its products with a 2-year factory warranty for throwers and a 1-year full warranty on the Mini’s base and the electronics housed inside it.
Crazy Quail offers a few different packages that you can view at www.crazyquail.com.
All photos by Jesse Snyder.