Written by:
Thimbleby Estate

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How to start clay shooting.

As we kick off a new year, with 12 whole months stretching ahead of us to fill, it’s the perfect time to start learning new skills and to pick up a new hobby! If you’re keen to learn how to clay shoot and you’d like to make sure you pick up only good habits and learn excellent safety awareness at the same time, we can help. Here at Thimbleby Shooting Ground we welcome every level of clay pigeon shooter, from those who want to brush up lifelong skills to people taking their very first shot. If you fall into the latter camp, and you’re keen to learn how to clay shoot this year, here’s how to go about it.

Find the right shooting ground

Finding the right shooting ground will be the first important decision you make. A good shooting ground will have qualified and experienced instructors and friendly staff to welcome you when you arrive. You’ll probably have lots of questions, and you might feel nervous about trying something totally new, and it’s important that you feel you can ask anything you like.

Professional shooting grounds will be able to loan you a shotgun, as you won’t hold a shotgun licence and therefore be able to have your own. They will be able to help you find a gun that fits your height and build and show you how to handle it. Finally, you’ll notice that they also take good care of the grounds, ensuring that the stands are accessible and well laid-out and the traps are all working as they should.

Book a beginner’s lesson that suits you

Your next job is to decide which type of lesson you’d like. That might be a ‘have a go’ lesson, which covers the essential safety and gun handling information before showing you how to hold and use the gun and giving you the chance to shoot 25 cartridges (or something similar!). This option is a great choice if you just want to dip your toe into shooting without committing more of your time and money and is designed for two people (so is a great option for a couple or a couple of friends). Or you might choose to book a comprehensive hour of tuition, which gives you an excellent grounding in the sport of clay shooting, taking you through everything from safety and gun mount to how to read the clay and give the ‘bird’ enough lead.

Dress for the occasion

While you absolutely don’t need to invest in any safety gear or clothing when you start learning to shoot, we do have some tips for what to wear for those first lessons. For example, even if the weather is set to be very cold, leave that bulky padded jacket at home. You’ll struggle to learn where and how to mount your gun through the thick layer of fluff! Go for something that’s warm if you need, but not bulky or slippery. Plus, we advise you to choose footwear that’s flat and with plenty of grip, so you’re able to work on your stance without tipping. We also recommend you wear a baseball cap too.

Remember – safety first!

You should be provided with all the safety equipment you need, from eye protection (essential to protect you from any flying fragments of clay pigeon) to ear defenders. It’s very important to make sure you’re wearing eye and ear protection whenever you’re on a shooting ground, even if you’re simply observing a lesson, to keep your eyes safe and ensure you can still hear. The report of a shotgun is probably louder than you imagine and will soon damage your hearing if you don’t use ear protection.

Your instructor will also take you through how to handle a gun safely and proper shooting ground etiquette. For example, always making sure the gun is ‘broken’ (and therefore can’t be fired) when you’re walking between the stands and never turning the gun toward someone when it’s made ready.

What makes Thimbleby stand out from the crowd?

If you live in the north east of England – or you’re visiting – and you would like to learn how to clay shoot, we would be delighted to show you the ropes at Thimbleby Shooting Ground. We’re proud of our wonderful team of staff and qualified instructors, and our groundskeepers who keep the stands and traps in tip top condition. Our gun room is home to shotguns in all shapes and sizes so there’s something to suit all ages, and we offer lessons for everyone – have-a-go experiences and hour-long lessons for adults, juniors and seniors.

We also know that when people learn a new hobby, they’re often looking for an experience and to meet new people, and that’s where we really can raise the game. We host regular events for all different types of shooters (many of which are totally beginner friendly) and our clubhouse is a cosy, welcoming space with an excellent café to grab a drink and a snack afterwards. Explore our different lessons here: