Thinking of having a go at clay shooting? Great idea! It’s a fun and sociable sport that’s accessible to all – and easier to get into than you might imagine.
You’ve probably got a few questions, maybe even concerns – so here’s our FAQ guide where we answer the questions most often asked by newcomers to the sport…
1. Will it hurt?
Absolutely not if you go to a qualified instructor who will make sure you’re using a suitable gun and cartridge, and ensure you mount the gun properly in your shoulder. If you’ve seen videos online or heard stories of people getting knocked by the gun, it’s because an unqualified person decided to just give someone a go without the proper training or equipment. The instructor’s job is to make sure you are safe and enjoy the experience, and with any luck (and skill) smash a few clays while you’re at it.
2. Do I need special equipment?
If you go for a lesson at an established clay shooting ground, everything you need will be provided. You just need to turn up dressed for the weather. The instructor will provide the gun and cartridges, plus the necessary PPE – ear plugs or muffs to protect your hearing, safety glasses and a peaked cap.
3. Will I need a licence?
You don’t need a licence for a have-a-go session or a shooting lesson at a shooting ground. If you get into the sport and want to take it further, you’ll eventually want to buy your own gun, which will mean applying to the police for a Shotgun Certificate, but there’s no need to worry about that to begin with.
4. Are there any age restrictions?
Not really. Children learn to shoot, under supervision of course, from the age of 7-8 upwards, while most shooting grounds can tell of people who had their first go in their 70s or 80s. That’s one of the great things about clay shooting – it really is open to all.
5. Do I need to get a group together?
If you’re going to shoot clays for the first time, it can be fun to do it with a partner, or a couple of friends. That’s not essential though; you can book an introductory session as an individual or a small group.
6. Won’t it cost a fortune?
An introductory session will cost between £30 and £50 per person. As you progress, you may want to have individual lessons, and ultimately buy your own equipment – but a ‘have-a-go’ session is an inexpensive way to discover whether clay shooting is the sport for you.
7. OK, I’m up for it, what do I do now?
First thing is to find a shooting ground local to you. There are grounds all over the country, but for obvious reasons they tend to be out of town. A web search for “clay shooting grounds near me” will turn up a number of options; check out the websites and see which appeals to you. Then simply phone up and explain you’d like to book an introductory session – and away you go!
It really is that simple. Just book, go along and enjoy your session. Remember it doesn’t matter how many you hit or miss; it’s all about having fun. You really can’t beat that feeling when you get it right and blow a clay target into smithereens – that’s what keeps us coming back!
If you’re in England you could use the club finder provided by the sport’s national governing body, the CPSA. Find it here: www.cpsa.co.uk/clubs
Under-21s can get involved in the Young Shots programme run by Britain’s largest shooting organisation, BASC – find out more here: basc.org.uk/youngshots/
There are various shooting clubs specifically for ladies, such as the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club: www.shotgunandchelseabunclub.co.uk/