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Do I need lessons before I get my shotgun licence?

A reader is keen to take up the sport

gun mount

You can go clayshooting on your own, with a member of your household or with one other socially distanced person.

Q: I’ve spent some time with a small shoot this season and love it. As a result I now fancy taking up shooting myself. How do I get started? Will I need to buy a gun? Will I need to get a shooting licence before I start shooting lessons?

A:  It’s good to hear you have become involved with a local shoot and that you are keen to participate and get involved in the sport.

The good news is that having watched the Guns out in the field, you will already have more understanding of what is involved than most beginners. However, if you want to learn handle a gun yourself safely and correctly, the best place to start is at a clay shooting ground which offers a professional coaching service.

There will be qualified instructors there who can set you off on the right track.  The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association has a directory of qualified coaches and you can find one local to you here. 

overhead clay target

The right way to get started

  • Book a course of basic shooting lessons.
  • You don’t need to buy a gun or have a shotgun licence before you book professional lessons with a registered coach.
  • You will be able to borrow a gun to use under the instructor’s supervision.
  • Your teachers will make sure that your technique is correct and explain to you all the shooting terminology you need to know, as well as the importance of gun fit and gun mount. They will also give you a full safety briefing so that you know how to behave responsibly and safely when out in the field.
  • When you are starting to feel confident in your shooting, and your instructor thinks you are ready to progress further, then you can think about applying for a shotgun licence and buying your own gun.

What to avoid

Graham Brown of Purbeck Shooting School advises: “If you’re just starting out as a new shooter, try and steer away from being taken around a clayground with a friend. You are far better off when starting out clayshooting taking several lessons with a qualified instructor in a quiet part of a ground without spectators, where the instructor can get the foundations of good shooting right.”