How to start clay pigeon shooting in the UK
Clay pigeon shooting is a very popular sport here in the UK. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages and it offers a great way to spend time outdoors with friends or family. In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of how to start clay pigeon shooting. We will cover what you need to get started, as well as the different disciplines involved in clay pigeon shooting. Let’s Get Started
What is clay pigeon shooting and how does it work?
Clay pigeon shooting is a form of shotgun target shooting in which clay targets are launched into the air and then shot at with a shotgun. The clay disks, also known as clay pigeons, these are made from Calcium Carbonate and Pitch and the standard colour that you will see will be orange or black. In competitive clay pigeon shooting, there are typically Four rounds of 25 clay pigeons. The machine that sends the targets into the air is called a trap, and the shooter must break the target before it hits the ground. The traps can be set up to throw the clay pigeons in various directions, speeds and angles depending on the discipline you are shooting. Some disciplines have 1 Trap and some disciplines have 15 traps, you can find out more about the different disciplines here.
What do you need to start clay pigeon shooting
So after you had a few lessons and you want to start shooting on your own you will first need to get a few things in order, below I have made a list of the main things needed to start Clay shooting as a hobby or sport, a shotgun licence will be the first thing on the list, this can take up to six months to be approved in the United Kingdom, so it is important to plan ahead and get that application sent in ASAP.
- A shotgun licence: This can take up to six months to be approved in the United Kingdom, so it is important to plan ahead. you can download the forms from your local police department website, you will also need to get a letter from your GP all this information should be on the website when applying for your application.
- Gun cabinet: before you have your licence they require you to install a gun cabinet to store your shotgun safely this will be checked when you have your interview or they can visit again after your licence has been approved, however, you will not get your licence until the cabinet and storage have been signed off. you can pick up second had cabinets cheap on eBay or Gun Trader or you can buy them new from most gun shops, I would recommend a Brattonsound cabinet, these are independently tested to British standard BS 7558/92 which is the only way to guarantee police acceptance.
- Ear defenders: Are essential for protecting your hearing and are a requirement at every shooting ground in the UK, you can choose from plugs, defenders, or custom Ear moulds by companies such as CFG (Custom fit guards), to start with I would use ear defenders and then upgrade to CFG over time, the plugs are ok but for someone shooting regularly you want to make sure those ears are protected, you only have to forget to put them on once and the ringing in your ears last for hours.
- Shooting Vest: this is not a requirement but I would highly recommend it, it will make your experience a lot better and if you have had a few lessons I would think you are used to wearing one by now, also when it comes to gun fit that is a whole article in itself, you want to be consistent with what you wear shooting, it also adds some protection to your shoulder, however, if you are mounting the gun correctly you should not need much protection.
- Eye protection: Eye protection is also a requirement at all UK shooting grounds, this is for your safety, at the start a pair of safety glasses from Screwfix are fine, however, when you start shooting more regular and competitively you might want to look at glasses that improve the colour of the clays in different weather conditions, the prices of a good set of glasses range from £150 to £800 yes that’s not a typo, however, these are not needed and will not make much of a difference when you first start shooting.
- Gun cleaning kit: All guns need to be cleaned after use and it is important to do this correctly, there are many kits available on the market the Bisley kit will be fine and do the job you need. overtime you collect new bits and build a kit out of your own, you find the oil you like and the grease you like so to start with just get a small kit to get you started.
- The Gun: this is the fun bit when you can go out and buy your gun. Depending on what discipline you are going to shoot will depend on the gun you want to buy, if it’s just a bit of fun an all-round sporter will be fine, if you’re looking to shoot Trap, skeet, etc you might want to speak to the gun shop about this and get a gun that will best suit that discipline you intend on shooting. when you first start everyone will talk about gun fit and any good gun shop will not just sell you a gun you want but a gun that fits you well, this will make a huge difference in you hitting or missing the targets. speak to the local guys shooting at your club and I’m sure they point you in the direction of a good shop or gunsmith that can make sure your gun is fitted to you.
- Shooting insurance: As a gun owner, it is important to make sure that you are properly insured in case of an accident. Although most home insurance policies will provide some coverage for firearms, it is typically not enough to fully protect you in the event of a serious incident. That’s why many gun owners choose to purchase separate shooting insurance. This type of policy generally covers personal liability and personal accident cover. The most popular organisation to offer this cover Is BASC.
How much does it cost to start clay pigeon shooting
Depending on the quality of the equipment you purchase, you can expect to spend between £600 and £1500 on everything you need to get started in clay pigeon shooting.
Sometimes, you don’t want to sink cash into something brand new. invest in cheaper or second-hand equipment, you can find some really good deals online. If you can afford it a good gun will hold its value if well looked after, a cheaper gun will not hold its value as well however, this is ok if you plan on keeping it as a spare or for a friend or family member to use.
For me I knew I wanted to shoot the trap discipline so decided to get a trap gun as my first gun, I invested in a mid-range gun that would outlast me if looked after and serviced regularly. the other equipment I didn’t spend as much on such as a skeet Vest, glasses etc over time I have upgraded my kit and it’s not impacted my shooting at all.
At the start, you want to spend money on cartridges and have fun shooting and improving your skills, There are a lot of things you can waste money on when you first start shooting my recommendation is to keep it basic and spend more money sending lead downrange and becoming a better shooter, you see some good deals pop up for equipment as you spend time at your club.
The Ongoing costs of shooting clays
This is a big question and the answer is different for everybody but what I will say, it’s not cheap, a round of clays will cost anywhere between £8.50 – £10.00 per 25 clays plus cartridges so you looking at £6-£7 per box of 25 but might use 50 if you hit with the second barrel, so you could be spending £20.50 per 25 clays you shoot, the chances are you won’t take 2 shots for each clay and would works out a bit cheaper but this gives you an idea of the costs if you shot 50 clays per week, you are looking at £164 per month.
There are other costs to take into account such as fuel and food etc but this will be different for everyone. You can also find places that charge less for clays but you might find they are more of a pop-up shooting club in a farmer’s field not so much a range with Olympic layouts and a clubhouse.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful. Clay pigeon shooting is a great sport and can be quite addictive. It’s important to do your research before getting started and set yourself a budget to get started also make sure you are prepared for the ongoing costs. Thanks for reading. you can find out more about shooting sports in this blog we wrote here