What could be more dangerous than spending your days firing a shotgun at a moving target? Well, a lot of things actually. Clay pigeon shooting may be thought of as a dangerous sport, but with so many rules and regulations in place, it really shouldn’t be dangerous, provided you pay attention to your safety and the safety of others on the shooting range. One of the main things to watch out for when clay pigeon shooting is obviously being shot – a 12-bore shotgun can easily kill a person – so it is important to bear in mind gun safety at all times.
What to expect when starting out
Any reputable clay pigeon shooting club will always ensure that you are taken through club rules and gun safety rules when you first sign up to start shooting clays. This will involve covering things like loading and unloading the gun, cleaning the gun and where you should be pointing a loaded gun (always out across the range, never towards another person). You’d be surprised at the amount of accidents and fatalities that happen when somebody is walking or running and falls onto a loaded shotgun, or when a loaded gun is pointed at another person, either because somebody is messing around or by accident. Provided guns are well maintained, you can minimise the chances of being hurt by ensuring that your loaded gun is always pointed out across the range. Alongside the gun there are plenty of other things to watch out for when clay pigeon shooting.
Watch out for eye injuries
There are other things to watch out for when clay pigeon shooting that you may not think of if you are a beginner to the sport. Eye injuries are not uncommon, and these are usually caused by splintering clays. Wearing adequate eye protection is vital, not only to protect your eyes from clays but also to cushion against recoil from your shotgun, as your face is so close to the gun when shooting. Shooting glasses with polycarbonate lenses are ideal. This material is used in bullet-proof glass and is impact- and shatter-resistant, so it will protect your eyes whilst you’re on the range. Invest in the best pair of glasses you can afford and they will reduce your risk of eye injuries whilst clay pigeon shooting.
Listen out for hearing loss
When you think about think about the things to watch out for when clay pigeon shooting you wouldn’t think you’d need to worry about hearing loss. But it can be really dangerous to shoot without adequate hearing protection and you could permanently damage your hearing and your ears. The volume of a 12-bore shotgun firing can reach levels of 156 decibels, whilst the noise from a jet plane taking off averages around 140 decibels. That’s pretty loud! Although you will often see people wearing headphone-style ear defenders, there are plenty of different styles to choose from and it really is a matter of personal preference. You’ll find foam and rubber ear plugs and custom-fit ear defenders which are moulded to fit your ear by an audiologist. Buy the best protection you can and you’ll reduce the dangers associated with clay pigeon shooting.
Maintaining and cleaning your gun
You’d be surprised at the number of fatalities that have occurred when somebody is cleaning their gun. It’s important to note that you should never clean a loaded shotgun – always ensure that cartridges have been unloaded from the gun before you start. You should invest in a gun cleaning kit when you get your shotgun. This will normally include gun oil, cleaning patches and a cleaning rod with wool and metal brushes. It’s really important to keep your gun clean and well maintained to reduce the potential dangers and to give you less things to watch out when clay pigeon shooting. A shotgun needs lubrication and it also needs to have moisture and residue removed as this is damaging to gun barrels. You can buy a bore snake, which resembles a long rope, for quick cleaning, but you’ll still need a gun cleaning kit to ensure you gun remains in tip-top condition.
Get your certificate
You’ll need to apply to your local police force for a shotgun certificate before you can buy or own a shotgun – and you’ll need a referee to vouch for you on your form. Because one of the things to watch out for when clay pigeon shooting is shooting other people, you obviously need to be of good character in order to own and use a shotgun. You won’t be able to buy a gun without this certificate, so make sure you apply in plenty of time if you are planning on taking lessons or going on a corporate away day clay pigeon shooting. You’ll need to take your gun certificate with you during your first session at any club, and make sure you sign it too.
Get the right gun
It’s a good idea to ask for advice at a reputable gun dealer if you’re buying your first gun. One of the things to watch out for when clay pigeon shooting is that you may end up using a gun that is too heavy or has too much recoil for you to handle. This is particularly likely if you are female or of slight build. Generally, a 12-bore shotgun is the standard calibre, but an experience gun dealer will be able to offer advice as to whether another type of shotgun would best suit your needs. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a brand new gun either. Second-hand guns from reputable manufacturers such as Berretta or Miroku are good bets and most dealers will have a range of well-maintained second-hand stock to choose from.
Reduce your risk of accidents
You can reduce your risk of accidents by being aware of the main dangers and being aware of the things to watch out for when clay pigeon shooting. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be injured though, and if somebody else’s negligence has caused your accident and you’ve been left injured, you could claim personal injury compensation. If this has happened to you, call Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 to get advice in confidence. You could find you’re eligible to make a 100% no win, no fee claim.
Date Published: September 16, 2016
Author: Rob Steen