A popular countryside activity that many of you will have done is clay pigeon shooting. It’s growing in popularity here in the UK, with venues popping up all over the country on a regular basis.
If you’ve never given it a try before or don’t go often, we always recommend contacting your chosen place first. You might want to tell them that you’re a novice and see what equipment or clothing they provide you with. Many venues will give you protective eyewear and headwear as well as a shooting vest, but many do not. You might also want to consider going with someone who has been before and use them as your guide. All facilities will have instructors available to help you out too.
In this article, we want to give you a well-rounded view of everything clay shooting. From the history of the sport to the essential items of what to wear clay pigeon shooting.
History of clay pigeon shooting
We’ve created a timeline so you can show off and know your stuff down at the range! Look out for our Olympic history too: Team GB has had some success in shooting events, especially since the 00s!
- 1860s – Artificial targets are introduced to prevent the death of more animals.
- 1880 – Clay targets patented in the US. This dome-shaped saucer is made from clay or terracotta.
- 1882 – Clay targets first used in the UK
- 1888 – The targets are then made from limestone and pitch, which is still used in today. This made them easier to break!
- 1893 - The Inanimate Bird Shooting Association held its first tournament in the UK
- 1900 - Shooting became an Olympic discipline
- 1921 - Live-pigeon shooting competitions banned in the UK
In recent Olympic history, it is not Team GB’s best event, with just 5 medals in all events over the past 5 Olympics. Our most successful event, double trap, has secured us two golds (2000 – Richard Faulds and 2012 - Peter Wilson) and a bronze (2016 – Steven Scott) but will not be featured at the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Wilson, in fact, holds the world record after scoring 198 out of 200 in a tournament in Arizona in 2012. No surprise he won the gold medal at the Olympics that year!
What’s good about clay pigeon shooting
If you’re reading this, you probably already are a fan of the sport or you’re interested in trying it out for yourself. We’ve collected a few of our favourite reasons as to why we love it! Let us know if you have a reason to why you love to go shooting too!
- It’s an all-year round sport, you just have to make sure to dress appropriately for the great British weather! Waterproofs in the summer everyone!
- It has a looser dress code than many think. You don’t have to don your tweed if you don’t want to. Comfy and casual work just as well now.
- It’s popular all over the UK, with many grounds to go to now. Search online for the facilities closest to you or ask friends and family for recommendations.
- It’s a good workout: your hands, arms, shoulders, core, back and abs will all get a good workout when shooting. If you’re on a larger shooting range, you’ll also get some cardio in with all that walking!
- It improves balance, co-ordination, social skills and reaction times
- It gets you outdoors and into the fresh air. What better way is there to enjoy the British countryside?
Key garments for shooting
If you look the part, you’ll perform at your best. We’re firm believers that you should always dress practically for the occasion but that doesn’t mean you should look scruffy. Here are a few of the items you will need for a trip to the range.
- Shooting jacket or vest: Pockets are a must. Shooting jackets and vests usually have extra padding on the shoulders too but you can also buy recoil pads for extra protection there. This is probably the most important piece of clothing you need because it’s the layer closest to your gun. A jacket during the winter needs to be fitted but not tight and have enough pockets to store extra gun cartridges too so you can reload quickly and easily.
- Shirt: It must be loose and stretchy so you can move in it. It should be fitted enough for you to feel comfortable but not too baggy that it catches when you’re mounting your gun. If you’re just a casual shooter, you could opt for a polo shirt or t-shirt instead.
- Headwear: It must have a sturdy peak to protect you from falling clay fragments as well as from the sun, which is why we recommend a baseball cap or a flat cap. Just make sure it’s secure enough to your head that it won’t blow off with the wind.
- Comfortable + sturdy footwear: The last thing you want when out shooting is uncomfortable or unsuitable shoes on. We recommend boots that you’ve worn a lot as you could be on your feet all day. Hiking or walking trainers are another option as they usually have a good, strong tread on them. Flip-flops, sandals or plimsolls are a bad idea because you’ll probably be walking on a mixture of terrains and will need the extra grip from your shoes to stabilise yourself.
- Gloves: The barrel of the gun can get extremely hot, especially if you’re on the shooting range for a long period of time. Many pairs have added grip features so not only will they protect you, they could also improve your accuracy too!
- Always wear eye and ear protection: Many venues provide these, but you could consider buying your own if you become a regular visitor. Always double check before your visit to see if they provide you with them or if you’ll need to bring your own.
The choice between modern shooting attire and traditional tweed ones
Many people believe that to go shooting, you must dress all in tweed and go on your horse. This could not be further from the truth now. Modern shooting dress is a lot more versatile than traditional attire and we’ll show you how.
- Traditional: Thicker layers, lots of padding and protection and sturdy, leather footwear were always the necessary items for an old-fashioned shoot. Flat caps were worn with a full-tweed suit, making it uncomfortable to move too much.
- Modern: Professional athletes nowadays tend to stick with thermal/skin layers or polo shirts for official competitions with a shooting vest on top. Most vests usually have some sort of breathable, mesh fabric in them to minimise sweat. Caps are worn as well, usually with their team logos on. Comfort is key so many athletes wear jogging bottoms and trainers. However, you must remember that these are professional athletes, they’ve been competing for years and know everything they need to do about safety.
The best way to get yourself ready for a day at the shooting range is to contact the venue itself. They will tell you what they provide, what you need to bring and wear and what to expect when you arrive. They will have dealt with a range of skill level from various customers, from regulars to first-timers so will be able to occupy any needs you might have.
Let us know if you have any potential questions with regards to what to wear clay pigeon shooting and we will be more than happy to help.
You can explore our range of men's shooting clothing as well as our range of ladies shooting clothing to get something that's just right for you. If you would like to find out more about clay pigeon shooting we recommend that you head to the official clay pigeon shooting association: https://www.cpsa.co.uk/