Clay shooting – a beginner's guide for ladies
Always fancied having a go at clay shooting but never known where to start? Here are some simple tips to get you rolling...
1. Find your local shooting ground
The easiest way to find your local shooting ground is to visit the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) website . The CPSA is the national governing body for clay target shooting, and their website enables users to search for shooting grounds by county. There are many small grounds which are not affiliated with the CPSA, but most can be found on a search engine very easily.
Once you've found a suitable ground, find out if they offer a membership package. These often come with special benefits such as discounted lessons, cartridges, competition entry fees and services such as gun-fitting etc.
2. Book a lesson
Most grounds offer one-to-one lessons with a qualified shooting instructor, usually lasting around an hour. Shooting lessons are essential for any beginner as they will include information on the basics of shooting, gun safety and shooting etiquette.
An hour-long lesson should cost between £50–100 depending on which ground you visit and the instructor you use. They will typically include the use of a gun if you do not have your own, and some will include the cost of cartridges and clays. These are details worth double-checking when booking the lesson.
3. The right kit
You don't need to own a shotgun certificate or your own gun to have shooting lessons as most grounds will have a gun for you to use. All shooting grounds will have shooting liability insurance to cover you whilst on the premises.
It's extremely important that you wear both eye and ear protection when clay shooting. Most grounds will have shooting glasses and ear defenders/plugs for you to borrow, or you can easily source your own online.
Shooting grounds are outside and therefore subject to the ever-changing British weather! Make sure you've packed waterproofs, a hat and wellies just in case.
4. Join a shooting club
Clay pigeon shooting is a fantastically social sport enjoyed by people of all ages. It's also a great activity for a work outing, birthday party or even a stag/hen do. For the ladies, there are several girls-only shooting clubs such as The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, who run numerous fun events all over the UK for beginners and experienced Shots. Being part of such a club allows you to gain more confidence with your shooting, meet loads of other ladies who are getting into the sport and eat lots of cake – a perfect combination!
With any type of sport, practice is essential, whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned Shot. Regular shooting lessons will allow you to develop your own style and iron out any faults or bad habits you may have picked up!
You could also have a go at one of the CPSA registered English Sporting competitions which are great fun and a good way to keep your eye in, with the added chance of winning a cash prize. You'll need to become a member of the CPSA in order for your score to be counted.
Once you've mastered the English Sporting layouts, you could also have a go at some other disciplines such as FITASC, Skeet, Trap or Down the Line.
6. Moving forward
Once you are confident, you might wish to shoot a round of clays with a group of friends but without an instructor present. At this stage, having your own gun – and one that fits you properly – is useful. You may want to travel slightly further afield to visit different clay grounds with alternative layouts and targets, too.
If you do like the idea of buying your own gun, you'll need to apply for a shotgun certificate first. You can do this through your local police branch. Click HERE for more information.
Once you've been granted a certificate, visit your local gun shop to discuss which gun would be best for you with the budget you have to spend – shotgun's don't have to cost the earth, we can't all afford a pair of Purdeys!
It's important to get the gun fitted to your body so that you're shooting to the best of your ability. Most gun shops offer this service, as do a lot of shooting grounds.
7. Live quarry
If you're lucky and the opportunity arises to shoot on a driven day or have a go at some pigeons etc., then you will need your own shooting insurance. Organisations such as BASC (British Association for Shooting & Conservation), The Countryside Alliance and the National Gamekeepers Organisation offer shooting insurance included in their membership.
Find more top tips for your first driven day's shooting HERE.
Founder of the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, Victoria's Knowles– Lacks' top tip: ''Find an instructor who you really like and who can communicate well with you. We all process and understand things in different ways, so if you get someone who resonates (and who you like!), you're on to a winner! The most important thing of course is comfort, ensuring you have the correct gun and enjoying yourself!''