Game shooting is a sport which has been around for centuries and continues to be popular today, with new people taking up the sport every year. Game shooting can be introduced to you by friends or family, but for complete novices who want to give it a go, we have put together a short guide on the best ways to get started.
Airguns are a great place to start if you want to get some experience shooting. They are relatively inexpensive to buy, and air rifles with muzzle energy levels under 12ft-lbs and air pistols with muzzle energy levels under 6ft-lbs don’t require a firearms licence in England and Wales. The main restriction for purchasing airguns is they can only be bought if you are 18 and over. Using an airgun in your back garden or your private land is legal, but you must have safety measures in place to stop pellets damaging a neighbour’s property. There are a couple of options to choose from when it comes to airguns; you can use it for target shooting, or for pest control, both of which are good stepping stones for when it comes to shooting game.
With Clay Pigeon Shooting
Clay pigeon shooting is a recommended choice if you want to get a feel for shooting game. You also do not need a certificate to shoot clays if you are at an approved clay shooting ground or practice range. These venues are good ways of discovering if the sport is for you, as it allows you to get a feel for handling shotguns, from the movement and stance required, the recoil and technique needed to shoot moving targets in the sky. Clay shooting is a fun sport, but demanding, and you are continually improving and practising. Clay shooting also gives you the chance to select a gun that suits you and learn more about the etiquette and traditions surrounding game shooting.
Lessons are one of the best ways to get into shooting, as you can stop if you find it is not for you, or if you do enjoy it, the lessons have given you the basics for when you join a shoot. Seek out lessons from a professional shooting instructor first, as this will prevent bad habits from emerging. Shooting lessons are often available at clay pigeon shooting grounds and are very welcoming to new shooters who haven’t picked up a gun before. Part of your lessons will also be about the safe handling of a shotgun particularly when around other people and animals. You will even get tips on stance, gun mounting and eye dominance. After lessons with clay shooting, why not look for shooting grounds which offer lessons in game shooting?
With a Club
After trying out clay pigeon shooting and taking a few lessons, you will have enough experience to join a shooting club. There are shooting clubs up and down the country, which can be found through the Shooting Club Directory. As part of a club, you can learn more about shooting disciplines and practice target shooting and receive advice if you want to apply for a firearms licence. For beginner game shooters, you may want to join the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). Members are covered by the BASC insurance policy. Members also receive discounts on courses and activity days run by BASC and get magazines with news and events about game shooting throughout the year.
With Books and Research
Though books and reading up on the sport are not active ways of getting into shooting, they do provide beginners to the sport with the information they may not know before heading out on a shoot. Blogs such as ours and various books include information about the rules of the sport – written and unwritten, the expected etiquette, what to wear and the shooting equipment you need for a safe shoot. Like any other sport you are interested in, it is important to read up on it as this helps give you knowledge about what the sport involves.
With Joining a Shoot
Joining a shoot as a spectator offers you a close-up view of what shooting entails. Being invited by a member of a local shoot or landowner gives you an introduction to game shooting you would not receive at a clay pigeon shooting ground. Being part of a shoot, just helping out without handling a gun or gundog, will give you the chance to see how a day’s shoot unfolds. Talking with experienced shots allows you to learn about the key points such as safety, the etiquette on bagging birds, judging the shootable birds and how you can join in the shooting yourself.
We’d love to know how you got into shooting; did family or friends introduce you, or did you discover it on your own? Leave a comment on our social media channels! For beginners, why not take a look at the shooting clothing we have so you can get kitted out before the game season begins again. We have ladies and men’s shooting jackets, gunslips, socks and much more! And don’t hesitate to read some of our guides on shooting too: