So you’ve had your first taste of breaking clays and you absolutely loved it! You might have had a go at clay shooting on a corporate day, or a hen do or stag party. But what do you do now? And where can you go to try it again?
There are a number of different options available to complete beginners who would like to take up clay shooting as a hobby. The first thing I would suggest you do is find out where your local clay ground is. If they are CPSA affiliated you can search for a list of shooting grounds by county with this web link; https://www.cpsa.co.uk/find-a-club
However, not all district clubs are listed on the CPSA website. You might want to search on Google ‘Where is my local shooting ground?’ or alternatively you could ask for recommendations from other shooters. A good place to find people who already go clay shooting is through social media. You could look up one of the Facebook groups such as ‘Clay Shooting UK’ and ask for help locating a ground. Alternatively you can join the ShootClay Forum as per the link on my page ‘Sources of Information’. Within the forum there is an area especially devoted to ‘New Shooters’ where you can introduce yourself and I’m sure you will be given a warm welcome from the other forum members! There is also a wealth of information in the other topics that you may find helpful.
Some shooting grounds hold a ‘section 11’. This means they will let you go and shoot without needing lessons from an instructor, provided you are accompanied by an experienced friend who already has a shotgun licence, and you will ultimately become their responsibility whilst on the ground. Certain shooting grounds may also require this person to be a member of the club you are shooting at, so it’s best to check this out beforehand. However, it is also wise to consider taking some lessons as you will need to learn some vital aspects of clay shooting from the start. Gun safety is singularly the most important thing you will need to take on board when learning to shoot. It is taken very seriously in our sport and rightly so! Taking lessons will put you in good stead for becoming more familiar with how to handle a gun, stance and footwork, and how to hit differing targets.
If you are female I would highly recommend joining a ladies’ shooting group such as ‘The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club’ or ‘Femmes Fatales’. These clubs are hugely supportive and great fun to be part of. They host events across the UK and aim to bring ladies of all ages and backgrounds together who have a shared passion of clay shooting. They cater for all abilities; if you’ve never held a shotgun before or you’re an experienced shooter, everyone is welcome. As a complete beginner, you would be put into a group with ladies of little (or no) experience and shoot under expert instruction. These events usually involve a practice session at the beginning of the day, and then a small competition with prizes. I came to find ‘The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club’ later in my shooting journey, so was put straight into the experienced group. Initially I was reticent about joining, as I was unsure what to expect, and because I hadn’t grown up around shotguns I wondered if I would fit it! My concerns turned out to be completely unfounded as I soon realised just how friendly and encouraging every member was.
Take a look at The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club and Femmes Fatales here;
Once you’ve learnt a few basic skills, you will probably want to think about getting your own gun and to do this you will need to apply for a SGC (Shotgun Certificate) also known as a Shotgun Licence. This is a relatively straightforward. You will need to download, fill in and send off an application form from your local police constabulary’s website. You will need to include passport photos, a return envelope and you will need a referee too. Once your application has been processed, your local FEO (Firearms Enquiry Officer) will contact you to arrange an interview with you. You will also need to arrange secure storage for your gun generally this takes the form of a gun cabinet. The whole process will vary from county to county in terms of how long it will take. For me in Gloucestershire, I sent my application in March, was interviewed in May and granted my SGC a few weeks later. It may only take a few months, but in certain counties it can take a lot longer; up to a year in some places! So if you think this might be something you are interested in, it’s best to get the application in as soon as you can.
Whatever route you decide to take next I hope it is successful. Perhaps as you continue to venture into the world of clay shooting, you might fall in love with it just as much as I did!