Clay pigeon shooting

JOHN BIDWELL

As you say, the speed of game birds and clays differs and this means it can take a little time to adjust when you switch from one to another.

However, someone who regularly shoots clays will make that switch a good deal faster than the man who puts his gun away at the end a season and doesn’t use it again for another 9 or 10 months.

It can take such people several outings before they ‘get their eye in’ again and actually start knocking down a reasonable percentage of the birds they pop off at.

For many that might only happen just as another season is coming to an end!

I simply can’t understand people who don’t, or won’t, ‘tune up’ on clays – especially when they’re going to be paying a fair amount of money for their shooting.

Compared to the cost of even a modest driven pheasant day, a couple of hundred clays from a high tower is chicken feed.

And even if they’ve been invited as a guest they owe it to their host to do the birds justice, and kill them cleanly.

The whole point of shooting clays in readiness for a new season is to re-accustom ourselves to the weight and balance of the gun, iron out any issues with gun mount and to get swinging freely – both before and after the shot has been taken.

A session or two at clays does this, and more – it also reminds us of the absolute need to have the gun moving ahead of the bird when a shot is taken.

It teaches us the importance of forward allowance, to see a gap between the bird and the gun muzzles, and the need to move our feet between shots.

Yes, it might take a few shots to adjust to the speed of the quarry on our first day in the field but it’s probably going to take the other chap ages – and a load of frustration – to get back in the groove again.