Starting out in the world of shooting can be daunting and learning to shoot correctly from the off is vital for future success, says Graham Brown of Purbeck Shooting School
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.
People often think that practice is going out and shooting 50 or 100 targets around a layout. In fact this does very little. Practice should be disciplined, concentrate on a minimal number of targets and experiment with different shooting techniques. This way you can really start to understand what works for you as an individual.
Guns for starting out clayshooting
- I would suggest a shooting novice gets the heaviest gun they can handle while retaining good posture.
- I would go for shorter barrels to begin with because they are more manoeuvrable, and then move to longer barrels at a later stage.
- I would also recommend a shotgun with a pistol grip which aids control of the gun and to begin with, an over-and-under.
Why an over-and-under?
Although heavier over-and-unders aid recoil suppression and allow for a greater field of view. I would look initially at the pupil’s eye dominance and establish their ‘handedness’ – right or left handed – which is all part of good gun fit.
Wherever possible I would try and get people to shoot from the shoulder beneath the dominant eye. I am against the closing of an eye or any vision correction ‘aid’ as I believe we live our day-to-day life with both eyes open. A correct fitting gun will overcome any visual problems.
What about cartridges?
Buy the less expensive range you can and with the lowest recoil. As a novice you will not be shooting long targets where more expensive cartridges come into their own. You don’t need to spend a fortune on guns and cartridges at the novice stage.
Understand the jargon heard on the clay shooting ground with Mark Russell's tips for shooting beginners
Even with the best technique in the world, to succeed at a high level you must be able to size…
- It is better to have fewer shots concentrating on posture and technique rather than rattling off cartridges without really learning anything. Quality not quantity is the name of the game.
- I normally start a novice with the gun in the ‘gun up’ position before looking to move to ‘gun down’ as soon as possible. The reason for this is because as a shooter progresses, it is highly likely that they will be required to start from a gun down position in certain disciplines or in the game field.
- The ability to control the timing of the shot is the most important thing. It is easier to speed up a slow shooter than to slow down a fast one.
At this stage I load the gun with only one round. As confidence builds I let the pupil handle it themselves and would look at the safety aspects of shotgun shooting as the lessons progress. The rhyme I teach them is ‘On the wood is good’, i.e. keep your forefinger extended on the woodwork above the trigger until it is time to shoot.
First time lesson
Graham said: “One of the clays I would normally show a first-timer is a ‘floppy crow’. It is a slow, near vertical incomer which teaches muzzle-to-target awareness because there is plenty of time to become visually aware.
Floppy crow technique
This target is a slow, near vertical, incomer which teacher the beginner muzzle to target awareness as there’s plenty of time to become visually aware.