having a new gun fitted

Gun shop staff will explain the inner workings of a gun to you

So you’ve decided to start shooting? 

Shooters are a friendly bunch and always delighted when somebody new takes an interest in their sport. It’s certainly not an elitist pastime.

shooters in field

shooting creates strong social networks

Shooting is also good for your wellbeing. Recent research has shown that it creates strong social networks, offers support and reduces loneliness, provides regular exercise and positively impacts mental health.

Different ways to start shooting

People start shooting in various ways and it’s not a given that you need to be brought up with it and start as a child. Or that you need to live in the countryside. Many keen shooters take it up as adults whilst living in a city and head out into the field at weekends.

what to wear clay pigeon shooting

More and more women are taking up shooting

Clays, pheasant, wildfowling?

You might be interested in gameshooting or maybe think clayshooting is going to be your thing. Or maybe you’ve always been fascinated by wildfowling?  Or you want to do some garden airgunning? 

Whatever appeals to you, here we’ve gathered together all the information you need to know on how to get into shooting.  Find out how to get a shotgun certificate, learn when the game seasons open, explore how guns work, get help with buying your first gun, what you should wear shooting and the intricacies of shooting etiquette (so you get invited back another time).  It’s very important too that you are aware of the shooting safety rules. 

We’ve also got a useful section on shooting terminology, explaining shotgun bores and ammunition.

More on starting driven shooting

Before you mount a gun to shoot at any sentient creature, you need to have plenty of practice at clays. Go to a good ground that will do proper gun fit too. That will make you a better shot and will also give you confidence in gun handling and safety.

Start with beating

Before shooting at anything you should also go beating. That way you will understand how a shoot is run and it will give the people on the shoot confidence in you so that if a vacancy for a Gun comes up you will be well placed to fill it.

You should ask the shoot captain if you might stand with one of the Guns so that you can see how things look from their perspective too. If a shoot accepts you, it is always easier to join the Gun team. You will need to get shooting insurance, as anyone who shoots without it is irresponsible.

Apply for your own shotgun certificate too. It is always a good idea to learn to shoot with your own gun and getting a certificate is a “rite of passage”.

It’s also worth reading about the etiquette of shooting. Most of it is just good common sense and good manners – for example, replying promptly to an invitation to shoot and coming dressed appropriately. If you’re new to shooting, you should also have a sound knowledge of the gun safety rules, which you can read up here.


What to expect on your first day pheasant shooting

Wondering what to expect on your first day pheasant shooting? Tony Bracci, Bisley instructor, former keeper and Sporting Gun contributor advises: Do some research into where the shoot is, which will give you a clue on how the birds will be presented. Rolling hills or prime arable land? Don’t rely…

shooting clay pigeons

How to start clayshooting

So you've decided to venture onto a clay ground with a view to taking up the sport. Congratulations. It's a popular pastime for good reason, as you'll discover. 

shotgun components

Shotgun jargon buster

Even Guns who’ve spent many seasons standing on the peg or walking along hedgerows are sometimes unclear about some shooting terminology. For example, whilst most shooters will know what the action on a gun is, they might be a little less sure about what the top strap is. (Answer below.)…

female Guns

Female Guns out in the field and on the clay ground

Just over 35,000 women in England and Wales hold a shotgun/firearms certificate and official figures show that these numbers are growing annually. This year women are having to forego the get-togethers of National Ladies Shooting Day although many clay grounds have of course recently reopened for business. So as long…

parts of a shotgun

The different parts of a shotgun

Do you know your hammer from your extractor? Here is a clear explanation of the functions  of named parts of a shotgun, namely a side-by-side boxlock with side plates, based on the Anson & Deeley design. What is a boxlock shotgun? In a boxlock shotgun the inner workings, the “lockwork” …

rifle accuracy checks

How to get a firearm certficate

Advice on how to get your firearm certificate with information on what police are looking for, what counts as good reason to own a firearm and what variations are

shoot briefing

How to make sure a shoot day goes well

Whether it’s your first shoot day or the first one of the season, how can you best prepare for it and get the most out of the day? Shoot location Where the shoot is will give you a clue as to how the birds will be presented. Is it in…

stance in shooting

How to improve your shooting footwork

As with any sport, when you want to get better at it you have to go back to basics to ensure that you have a good enough grounding. Shooting footwork tips A crucial point with shooting is having your feet in the right place. The reason for this is so…

shooting in stubble

Things I’d wish I’d known when I started shooting

Advice and novice shooting tips from those who had to learn the hard way … Lessons are key “I started game shooting when I was around 14 years of age, cocky and confident I didn’t need ‘lessons’… I simply mounted the gun,  squeezed the trigger – and it worked (to…

buying a first shotgun

Buying a first shotgun – how to get the best for you

Any busy shooting coach will see a continuous stream of newcomers to clayshooting or gameshooting coming through his ground. Having enjoyed their encounters with moving targets, they’re now thinking of buying a first shotgun of their own I have met newcomers aged 12, 22 or even 72, all asking: “What…

Lady Melissa Percy

How can shooting encourage more women into the sport?

A Gun is a Gun is a Gun, isn’t it? If you’re out shooting on a game day, you are known as a Gun, end of.” So says Tracy Meston, senior coach at the Roxburghe Shooting School in the Scottish Borders, 
one of a growing number of women 
in the…