How to get involved in clay shooting

The instructor on your have-a-go day will do their best to ensure you hit some targets

The instructor on your have-a-go day will do their best to ensure you hit some targets - Credit: Archant

Emily Damment talks us through a beginner’s journey into clay shooting, starting with the all-important first lesson and what to expect from have-a-go days

Whether your eventual aim is to shoot game birds or just to stick with clays, all journeys into the sport of shotgun shooting should begin by learning to shoot clay targets – safely and with the correct technique from the outset.

Clay shooting is a brilliant sport. Having never so much as touched a gun before, it took just one ‘have-a-go’ day to convince me of the sport’s merits; I was hooked from the moment my first clay shattered into tiny, dusty fragments.

Have-a-go days are offered at clay shooting grounds all over the country. Although you need to apply for a Shotgun Certificate if you want to buy your own gun, crucially, you do not need a certificate to shoot clays at an approved clay ground (or at a game fair or show), using a borrowed shotgun.

All have-a-go experiences will include a thorough safety briefing; gun safety is the single most important thing you will learn throughout your entire clay shooting career, and must be taken seriously. Once you have been issued with the obligatory eye and ear protection, and shown the safe way to handle a shotgun, it’s straight out onto the course to fire some shots through the borrowed guns. And therein lies the beauty of the have-a-go day… you can turn up with nothing but your good self and experience the joy of clay-crushing in a safe, controlled environment, before you’ve actually had to buy a gun, learn to shoot or applied for your Shotgun Certificate.

Once you’re hooked, which you will be, it’s time to book the first proper lesson. At this point things will slow down quite considerably… this is the point when you begin learning how to actually shoot, so start listening hard. You must think of your very first lesson as the foundation the rest of your shooting “career” will be built on. If that foundation is laid well, the rest will be plain sailing; get it wrong from the start, and you can expect the rest to follow suit.

It is important to note that you cannot progress in clay shooting until you have perfected the basics. There is no point in trying to hit a harder target if you are losing your position when trying to hit an easy one. Clay shooting, like many sports, relies partly on muscle memory, and you want to be building the right memories from day one. Take the time to perfect the easy stuff now and it will pay dividends later on.

Emily Damment is a writer for Sporting Shooter, Rifle Shooter, Clay Shooter. Find out more at

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Useful contacts

To find a clay ground near you contact the sport’s governing body, the CPSA To find a qualified instructor near you look at For more on game shooting visit

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