As the cold weather closes in, it’s time to deck yourself out in tweed and go for a Clay Shoot!
Clay pigeon shooting is a sport where you use a shotgun to shoot at clay discs that are fired into the sky. Think of it as trying to shoot at a small, fast moving clay frisbee.
The satisfaction of blowing clay pigeons out of the sky is second to none. A Clay Pigeon Shooting Experience offers access to 129 venues across the beautiful UK and Ireland countryside make for the perfect destinations to pick up the basics of clay shooting or improve your technique this winter, using the finest of British shotguns.
What is Clay Pigeon Shooting All About?
In the past, farmers would roam their land with their shotguns, shooting at any pigeons that were out in their fields eating their crops. As a way to develop their skills and demonstrate to each other how good they were, clay pigeon shooting evolved as a sport. This meant that people could compete against each other in shooting skills, without the need for killing any birds just for fun.
The clay itself is a small disc, much like a miniature Frisbee. This is loaded into a sling launcher. The launcher has an arm on it that is pulled back under the pressure of a spring and locked in place. The clay is loaded onto the end of the arm. When the person shooting shouts “Pull,” the launcher operator pulls a string which releases the launcher arm. The arm flings the clay into the air at high speed.
How do you Shoot at a Clay Pigeon?
One of the tricks to actually getting anywhere near shooting at a clay pigeon is to track it across the sky with your gun. You need to prepare for where it will appear from before you shout “pull.” Watch for it to appear, and then track it across the sky with your shotgun sighted. At the apex of the flight it will slow down slightly, making it easier to hit. You had better be quick though.
Is Clay Pigeon Shooting Dangerous?
As with any use of firearms, yes it can be dangerous. Make sure you go to somewhere that is licensed. You don’t need a gun licence yourself to go. The minimum age is 13 years old. As long as you follow all of the instructions given, it is safe. There is the risk of damage to your hearing from the loud bang from the gun firing. You must wear hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or ear defenders.
The only risk of injury is from not holding the shotgun tightly into your shoulder. If you don’t do this, the recoil from the gun when fired will thump it into your shoulder which hurts.
There are other dangers associated with clay pigeon shooting including pointing the weapon back towards where everyone else is standing, not being sure whether it is loaded or not, and standing in front of the firing line. A properly supervised and controlled location should prevent these from happening.
Find out more about Clay pigeon shooting
The national governing body for clay pigeon shooting in the UK is
the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association. If you are interested in competing, the Schools Challenge is a group of events tailored to those under 21. The shooting events include Clay, Game or a total Country Sports Experience.
Whether you’re new to shooting, looking to compete in your first competition, or a seasoned pro with many competitions under your belt, you’ll find a great atmosphere and challenge at The Schools Challenge.
The Schools Challenge is a series of events that takes place throughout the year at the Oxford Gun Company, near Oxford, England, ranging from clay tuition for individuals through schools clay competitions to a gameshooting day, where thirty kids get to try out beating, ‘picking up’ and shooting on a smart south-of-England driven pheasant shoot.
In early 2012, more than 180 children and youths from schools across England came to the Oxford Gun Company to compete for £12,000 worth of prizes. One of them is Megan Bates, from Bredon School in Gloucestershire.
“It would be nice to be in the prizes, but it’s the second one I’ve done so far so hopefully, I have had a couple of lessons and that’s good,” she says.
For Megan, this is all about taking part. “It would be nice to win, but it’s the taking part that counts and it’s just nice to come out and meet people within the shooting industry and get to know people around the course.”
Megan’s brother Oscar is more punchy about his chances. “It’s my first School Challenge competition, but I have shot a lot recently so I am hoping to put the team up and hoping the team will win,” he says. “I have been shooting at school for four years now and I have been shooting since I was tiny and coming up here since last July with David Florent having lessons and previously I have been here on Monday practising hard, ready for the day ahead now.”
The 2011 winners of the two main schools challenge events are Millfield school and Warwickshire College. It’s not all private schools. Kineton High has produced schools challenge winners. There are lots here like Megan who are interested in the competition for individual glory. But the prizes are magnificent. Organiser David Florent says: “The best thing that’s done today is we’ve had probably three or four of the schools are new schools – the first competition they have ever come into. That’s what the sixth Schools Challenge is there for. And we have also had individuals. We have had an increase of individuals coming on their own which has only just started as well, so some of the old schools haven’t come because it’s been full, but it has come up with new schools that have never shot before. Can’t really argue with that. That’s what it is there for.
One of the UK’s top junior shooters is Amber Hill and she is here, but she is not confident about her chances. She is moving from Sporting clays to another clay discipline, Olympic skeet. “I’ve just gone to Italy and got a new gun with my sponsors for it, so I have been practising with that,” she says. “I didn’t shoot too bad I thought I would do worse than I did. But I got a 46 I think out of 50. I was really happy with it.”
At last the prize giving. Will Ford is prep winner with Isabella Ford ladies prep winner. Top ladies team is Millfield in Somerset while Amber Hill does indeed win the ladies’ individual prize. Boys winner is Taylor Hedgecock from the Soham Village College in Cambridgeshire and Bloxham School goes away with a senior team prize.
Clay Pigeon Shooting Experience Days
Whether you are a seasoned professional or a complete beginner, the fantastic outdoor pursuit of clay shooting will either fuel your passion, or turn into the start of a whole new hobby.