On a cold Saturday morning, Willow and I made our way to Royal Tunbridge Wells to take part in a Clay Pigeon Shooting experience. Neither of us had ever shot before, so we were excited to be taught by highly qualified BASC and APSI shotgun coaches, and to see if either of us had a hidden talent!
Living in Hailsham meant that it was only a short 40-minute drive before we arrived at Kent and Sussex Shooting School, situated behind John Lewis. As we drove down the track, we saw Lee, the team and the shooting area all prepped and ready for the day’s events. As I opened the car door, I was thankful Lee had given us the heads up to wear wellies! After being introduced to everyone, we were offered a welcoming cup of tea or coffee, which made the perfect hand warmer whilst Lee went through the safety briefing and asked us to fill in a short form. We were equipped with ear plugs and glasses, and went on to find out our eye dominance. This is a simple and efficient test that makes a big impact on your shooting ability - if you are newbies like us! We made a hole in our hands and looked through this at Lee’s nose. The eye he saw was our dominant eye. Willow’s dominant eye was her right, but in my case, Lee could see both, meaning I was central-sighted. This wasn’t an issue, as I was given my own flip up eye patch which could be clipped onto my glasses. This blurred out my right eye’s vision, meaning I could focus on my shooting instead of keeping my right eye closed. Then it was time to learn how to hold a shotgun!
We were given a 20-gauge shotgun, perfect for us small hunters to hold with ease. Lee showed us the correct stance, and how to hold the shotgun in the correct way, placing the butt of the gun into the groove next to our shoulder. He then went on to explain that shooting isn’t about aiming, and there isn’t a scope. It is instead about knowing where the clays are going to be, keeping your eyes peeled and shooting in that direction when you see the clay. We were very impressed that Kent and Sussex Shooting School use biodegradable clays, so they do not damage the environment. They also have 900 acres of land, so after a while they move to a different field to prevent any damage to the grounds.
Willow stepped up first and watched as the first clays were released, noting where they will be when she takes her first shot. We both had several goes at different clay formations, shouting “PULL” to signal we were ready for a clay to be released. We surprised ourselves by hitting around three or four each! Yes, in hindsight this isn’t many, but let’s not forget we are beginners! The last two clays were fired one after the other, allowing us two opportunities to hit them. This was undoubtedly my favourite set.
I thoroughly enjoyed clay pigeon shooting. Thank you to Lee and the team for making the day so enjoyable, and for teaching us a new skill! I will be taking my Dad shooting for a bit of healthy competition!