So you have decided you would like to have a go at shooting but don’t know where to start?
The easiest first step is if you know someone who already shoots and who might have some land on which you could have a go. Most people who shoot are excited when other people want to take up the sport and are delighted to help so a quick phone call is never a waste of time.
If they are unsure about helping themselves then they will almost certainly know someone who would be happy to help or can point you towards the nearest clay shooting ground and they will certainly be able to talk you through the best way forward. They will almost certainly be happy for you to handle an unloaded shotgun to show you the basic handling and talk you through the serious safety side of things so that you have a grounding on it all.
If you don’t know anyone who shoots, simply booking a place at a clay shooting ground is an excellent starting point and they can usually provide you with everything you need on the day. The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association has a list of all the clay grounds in the country: https://www.cpsa.co.uk/clubs
Getting the basics
Rather like taking up golf, anyone can show you the basics but ultimately you would want some lessons from a professional to get you firing in the right direction with the greatest chance of success. Clay shooting grounds tend to have professional instructors and with clays able to be fired out on the same line each time you can quickly get the hang of handling a shotgun. With their instructors teaching you to point and move the gun to have the best chance of hitting the target, you’ll soon have the basics down.
The added advantage of going to a clay ground is that they will supply you with everything you might need from the gun and ammunition to safety glasses and ear defenders so you can literally turn up in the clothes you are wearing and they will have everything else, which helps to keep the costs down until you have decided that you love it and want to continue.
Whether you want to shoot clays and leave it at that or intend to move on to shoot at live game, you’ll need to be able to handle targets coming towards you, going away from you and crossing from both sides. Each direction requires a slightly different approach and your instructor will take you through each one and all the different combinations so that you know exactly what you are supposed to do in each scenario. They will also teach you basic gun handling and gun safety to ensure that you are a safe shot on the clay ground.
More advice, tips & resources
Having mastered the clay ground with every clay being turned to dust, you might then want to have a go at live game shooting. If so then have a browse through our guide on moving from clay to game shooting, as the next steps can be a little more complex and comprehensive.
If you need some help on what you might need for a day’s shooting then we have prepared a list of beginners’ shooting advice. Likewise, if you are looking for help on what you might need for a day on a clay ground then see our guide on what to wear for clay shooting or our expert tips for your first time clay shooting.