The main danger of clay pigeon shooting is that you could hurt yourself or others whilst firing a shotgun. With the correct training, attention to health and safety, expectations and tips when clay pigeon shooting, you can minimise the risks of an accident happening. It is vitally important to spend time getting the basis right if you are learning how to shoot clays. Here are a few important tips to bear in mind:
- Take a few lessons to get you started on the basics, including safely handling a gun
- Make sure you spend the evening before your lessons getting your kit ready
- Invest in high-quality safety accessories such as ear defenders and shooting glasses – you’ll also need to choose a shot gun suitable for your size and build
- Don’t forget that in order to buy and own a shotgun you’ll need to apply to your local police force for a certificate
Dusting your first birds
Forgetting for a second about the dangers, it can be an exciting sport to get started in – there’s nothing like the thrill of dusting your first clays. Hitting your targets definitely gets easier with practice and you’ll learn to ‘read’ the clay pigeon before you shoot. A good rule is to try and follow the clay’s flight through the air using your finger. This allows you to work out whether it is rising or dropping, how fast it is going and if it is veering left or right. Watching the clay before you shoot is key to getting ahead of the competition and it’s an important skill to master. ‘Reading a clay’ is one of the main skills that beginners can struggle with, but getting a grounding in the basics is important and it will get easier with practice. Read up on expectations and tips when clay pigeon shooting to get an idea of what might happen when you arrive.
Other tips for beginners
So what else do you need to bear in mind when you’re a beginner to clay pigeon shooting? Here’s are a few handy hints:
- The kill zone and pick-up points – The kill zone is an area in the sky in which you should try to smash the clay. The kill zone is determined by how fast the clay is travelling, how it’s presented and how quickly it can be ‘visually’ picked up in flight. You also need to think about the visual ‘pick up point’ – this is different from the kill zone as it’s where you first catch sight of the clay (your target).
- Stance and ready position – As well as talking you through the dangers and running through expectations and tips when clay pigeon shooting, your instructor will talk about stance and ready position on your first ever lesson. Your stance is the position you take as you call for the bird. Right handed people should put weight on their front, left foot, with toes pointing towards the intended kill zone. If you are left handed, this is the opposite way around and your right foot should always be leading. It’s vital to master this basic position, as if you don’t, you won’t be able to complete the swing when you aim, so take some time getting this right.
- Shooting gun ‘up’ or ‘down’ – Obviously the main expectations and tips when clay pigeon shooting is knowing that you’re going to be using a shot gun so ensuring you know about gun safety is important. There are two different approaches to mounting and preparing to fire your gun. ‘Gun up’ is when the shotgun is pre-mounted on your shoulder, face hard on the stock and ready to fire. This stance is generally used for speedy targets, and it’s unlikely you’ll be using this at beginner’s level. Instead, you’ll usually find ‘gun down’ is used. This is the traditional way of shooting where the gun is held out of the shoulder and only mounted when the bird is presented.
- Forward allowance – What else do you need to think about when you’re on the range? Well, clays move fast and when you’re firing at a moving clay you need to take into account ‘forward allowance.’ Of course the danger is also something you’ll need to bear in mind, but gun clubs are usually rigorous about taking you through basic gun safety to ensure you are not putting yourself or other members at risk. Your expectations and tips when clay pigeon shooting will help you but remember the shot from a cartridge always takes a certain amount of time to reach a set distance. To break your target, you need to pull the trigger when the muzzle of your gun is pointing ahead of the target, to make sure that the clay runs into the stream of shot. Knowing how much forward allowance is needed isn’t always easy and it is something that comes with skill, experience and practice. You are not simply aiming at a target as you are with rifle shooting.
What to expect on your first day
When checking the expectations and trips when clay pigeon shooting it’s important to find out and ensure you’re using the right gun. The main danger is that you could accidentally shoot yourself or someone else or even fall on your shotgun as you’re carrying it. It will be easier to handle your gun if you make sure you have the right gun for your size and build. Women of a slight build, or anybody who is small may want to consider a 28-bore shotgun – and you should always ensure your gun is fitted with a recoil pad. Your club will take you through safe gun handling rules designed to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. During your first session you’ll normally have the chance to fire at some slow moving clays and you’ll also learn how to load cartridges into the gun and unload your gun.
Staying safe clay pigeon shooting
Your safety is paramount and finding out the expectations and tips when clay pigeon shooting is one thing but there are potential dangers. Hopefully once you have had sufficient tuition, you should be able to practice at regular clay shoots at your club. You’ll also learn how to clean and maintain your gun which is vital as ensuring your gun is well maintained reduces the danger of clay pigeon shooting. If you have been injured in an accident on the range that wasn’t your fault, you may find you’re able to claim personal injury compensation. You can call Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 to see if you could make a 100% no win, no fee claim, provided it has been three years or less since your accident.
Date Published: September 16, 2016
Author: Rob Steen