Gordon Robinson gives a two-in-one lesson for both would-be shooters heading for grouse moors and ones who want to break clays for fun
Although the RBSS is a clayground, gameshooting tuition is very high on its agenda. The school has an excellent grouse butt and 25-bird sequence, which ends in a four-clay “covey”. Among several of the school’s old- timer instructors is Gordon Robinson, who had volunteered to offer his advice on how to tackle driven grouse targets. Gordon has shot since a child and is a passionate fisherman who plays a primary role in running the school’s sporting agency.
Safety of paramount importance
In many ways the lesson was two-in- one. Simply in the way Gordon would teach a would-be grouse shooter who intended to head for the moors compared to ones who wants to break clays for fun or in a competition. Gordon said: “If I am teaching a gameshooter there are two main areas I would look at. Firstly, and of paramount importance, is safety. On a moor with a line of butts, Guns need to be aware of their safe arc of fire, and that there must be no swinging through the line at all. We have sticks here to prevent this and it prepares them for what they will see on a grouse moor as sticks are now used extensively to prevent swinging too far to the left or right.
“Secondly, be aware that clays will tend to be a bit higher than driven grouse, and I would encourage trying to shoot the clays a lot quicker if you intend on going grouse shooting. It can be very instinctive shooting. I would also advise practicing with different clothing – what you wear on a hot day in August will not be the same as on a cold day in November for example.
Keep your head on the stock
“Where strictly clay shooting is concerned, the butt we have is sunken and flanked by high earth banks. As a result, it is safe to swing a bit further to the right and left than you would on a grouse moor. This gives a shooter more time on a clay. So, firstly, I would always go as close to the front of the butt as possible, even lean against it, this gives you the maximum amount of space
to swing. Secondly, weight should be on the lead foot, eyes looking towards the horizon and the gun down but just forward of the arm pit with the muzzle about eye level – this allows a smooth transition to the shoulder. Remember to keep your head on the stock, I am convinced that one of the primary causes of missing is head-lifting. Although we have six traps here launching clays overhead and to the right and left, I would generally advise keeping your feet still rather than shuffling from a right-hander to a left-hander. However, it is what works for the shooter that counts, so if you like moving then do so. If you take the clays reasonably promptly here, the angles are relatively shallow so not much footwork movement should be needed. I would also encourage shooting with both eyes open as it allows for greater visibility and may help you pick up the clays earlier. However, due to eye dominance issues using both eyes may not always be an option for some shooters.
“Where chokes are concerned I am not a big ‘choke changer’ as the clays are not far away, but if open chokes and a smaller shot can help you win a competition then by all means use them.
No time for dilly-dallying
“With regard to lead, this comes with experience, but I feel that getting the gun swinging at the correct speed is more important. Get the swing speed correct and the lead will take care of itself. The targets are quick so an aggressive style is required – no time for dilly-dallying. Gunfit, as always, is vitally important. When you shoot the sequence here you will get pairs and on-report clays ending in a four-clay “covey”. This is designed to teach a shooter to pick a bird out of a covey. It isn’t easy, the clays change position and the temptation to revert to what was known as “browning” – i.e. shooting into the lot and hoping for the best – can occur. Try to resist this, pick a clay and think about breaking the first one before moving onto the second. Shooters who have shot our grouse butt regularly are aware that occasionally the covey overlaps allowing the chance to break two with one shot, however get used to breaking one with each shot before moving onto more advanced levels!”