Whilst some people don’t take clay pigeon shooting very seriously, there are others who participate in events and competitions – these will usually be regulated by the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA). They’re the governing body for clay target shooting in England and they organise and regulate competitions and other events, warning about the dangers of clay pigeon shooting.
The CPSA makes it mandatory for anyone participating in or officiating at an event to wear recognised, purpose-made hearing protection and visible eye protection. They have a number of other rules designed to protect you from the dangers of clay pigeon shooting, such as:
- Guns must only be loaded when on the shooting mark, with the barrels pointing out over the range
- Before turning from the firing mark after firing, cartridge cases or unfired cartridges must be removed from the gun
- If there is a misfire or malfunction, the gun must be kept pointing out over the range until the referee says otherwise
- Guns must be maintained in a safe, sound condition
- No alcohol, drugs or performance enhancing substances are permitted
So how do you go about owning a shotgun if you’re going to be taking part in clay pigeon shooting regularly? Well, due to the dangers of clay pigeon shooting – and of owning a firearm – you will need to apply to the firearms licensing unit of your local police force for a firearms certificate in order to buy or acquire a shotgun. You’ll need 4 passport photos and the relevant fee (which you can request from your local police force) as well as 1 referee, in order to apply for a shotgun certificate. You’ll also need a certificate to buy ammunition. You should keep your certificate safe in case you are asked to present it to police – certificates are normally valid for 5 years.
Staying safe whilst clay pigeon shooting
How else can you ensure you stay safe whilst clay pigeon shooting? There are a number of safety accessories you can purchase – and a few which are essential to ensure your safety, even for beginners. First you should consider investing in the best ear protection you can afford. Ear defenders are available in a variety of styles and sizes, from foam ear plugs to electronic ear defenders. Professional clay pigeon shooters and those taking part competitively will probably want to invest in custom fit ear plugs, but for beginners, foam or rubber ear plugs or headphone style ear defenders are adequate. Some clubs will provide these for you. Hearing loss is one of the most common dangers of clay pigeon shooting, as the noise from a 12-bore shotgun is louder than a jet plane taking off.
Another accessory that it is definitely worth spending money on is shooting glasses. One of the other main dangers of clay pigeon shooting is damaging your vision. This could happen from recoil from your shotgun, or even from a splintered clay pigeon if somebody else is shooting close to you. The right pair of glasses will protect your eyes and could even help to improve your accuracy. Polycarbonate is used in bullet-proof glass, so it makes the ideal material for shatter-proof or impact-resistant lenses for shooting glasses. Make sure your lenses cover and wrap around the sides of your eyes. Most shooting glasses also have a padded frame which cushions your face from recoil, keeping out dust and wind.
Common clay pigeon shooting injuries
You might wonder what some of the dangers of clay pigeon shooting are. Fatalities are actually not uncommon in this sport, sadly, but even if you are not killed in a clay pigeon shooting accident, you could still suffer serious injuries. Here are a few examples of the types of injuries you could sustain:
- Gunshot wound – for example if you are grazed by a bullet there’s the risk of infection and scarring
- Facial or eye injuries if a clay pigeon splinters
- Breaking your ankle or leg if you fall or trip
- Shoulder or neck injuries caused by recoil
You could be injured in an accident that was your own fault or hurt by somebody else messing around. There’s even the risk of beginners being injured by lack of proper training. For example if you are new to clay shooting and you’re not given a proper induction and shown the ropes at your club, you could increase your risk of injury.
What caused your accident?
One of the main dangers of clay pigeon shooting is of course the fact that you’re using a shotgun. There have been cases where people have tripped and fallen on a loaded shotgun whilst carrying it, and situations where people have started shooting without looking around them to check the coast is clear. It’s even possible that you could accidentally shoot somebody or injure them if you are pointing a loaded gun in any other direction than out over the shooting range. Messing around on the range or near guns isn’t advised – not only could you injure yourself but you could run the risk of causing a serious injury to somebody else, even a fatality.
Claiming compensation for a clay pigeon accident
Although you can take steps to protect yourself against the dangers of clay pigeon shooting, you could still be injured by somebody else’s negligence. So what can you do if you’ve been injured on the range or at an event or competition? Provided it has been three years or less since your accident, you could get in touch with a personal injury solicitor to find out if you could make a claim for compensation. Even if you have suffered minor injuries, you might be eligible. With Accident Advice Helpline you don’t need to worry about it costing the earth either – you can make a 100% no win, no fee* claim and still have enough money left over for your club membership fees. If your claim is successful you’ll receive a settlement that can help you out financially whilst you recover after your accident. Just call us on 0800 689 0500 to find out more about how we could help you.