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Your Shotgun Licence

There is not a great deal you can do until you recieve your shotgun licence. 

Most clay shooting grounds it seems will not allow you to shoot unless, either you have your licence or you are accompanied by an instructor or a member that has been licenced for more than a year. 

You will need to produce your licence if you want to shoot alone or join a club.

You cannot buy cartridges without a licence.

You cannot legally purchase a gun, the seller will need to fill your licence in with the sales details and gun serial number.

Fortunately although the application process takes some time they would need a very good reason for not granting it.  Only you would know whether they may have one of those lol.

If you become a member of the CPSA (as we did mainly due to the built in insurance package) they can offer a service to help you fight your corner if the worst happens. 

After submitting your application you will get a visit from a firearms officer, this is quite an informal chat really about you generally and your health, they will check your cabinet, find out who has access to the keys (trick question) - they must also have a licence if they know where you keep the keys! They will ask what your intentions are with regards to shooting.... clays, game etc.

Once this interview is complete and they are happy you may have around another 2 week wait for the postman to arrive!


Your licence has a fixed number of rows which are used to log the guns you posess. These are filled in by the person selling you the gun, or the person you share your cabinet/guns with as theirs have to be on there too.

It is worth knowing that once all these rows are filled (if you get the gun bug) it is a requirement that your licence be returned to the firearms office for updating enabling you then to have the space to buy more for your collection lol Clay pigeon shooting essentials

Also be aware that you may often need to send your licence to a seller for completion if you are having your gun sent - 1st class recorded is well worth the extra pennies and make sure you will not need it for the next few days!


Gun cabinets

You will need to have a gun cabinet for storing your gun or guns when you are not in the house.  When your firearms officer comes to visit during a new application he or she will insist on seeing it.

We were lucky because Pete still had his original one bolted to the party wall in the loft and luckily it was still suitable.  They come with 2 individual locks and both keys are needed to open it.  The keys to the cabinet should be kept in a safe place, the location should only be known by the licence holder ... they are likely to try and catch out any other householders with this question lol so hanging them on a key hook in the hall is a bad idea!

These cabinets are readily available and it may be worth saving a few pennies and finding a second hand one.  We decided to get a bigger one and found ours on Ebay of all places. 

It is widely known that alot of gun scratches and stock damage can come from putting your gun away in it's cabinet and you will see why when you get yours.  Pete decided to line ours with thin rubber matting and put a rubber 'U' seal around the door edges to avoid such accidents and also to reduce condensation which can cause damage to a gun that is left a while and especially to older guns which to not have chrome barrels.  You can buy gun socks impregnated with an agent that also helps reduce the possiblity of rust forming.

Pete also altered our new cabinet so that it stored the guns barrels down, this was to avoid any oil or grease from the action and barrels finding it's way onto the precious wooden stock.

Shotgun cabinet Modification

For those that asked, here are some pictures that will hopefully help, if you need any additional clarification feel free to get in touch - any better ideas are always welcome!.

We decided to keep our old one as a household safe for the family jewels Yawn

Your cabinet needs to be bolted securely to a wall and it's probably advisable to put it out of plain sight.  Some come with additional storage for cartridges etc but it is not a requirement that these be locked away.

I have mentioned it previously but if you want to share you cabinet with another person you will need to state that the guns are shared on one anothers licences, otherwise access to the cabinet can only happen if both gun owners are present at the time.

This was well worth doing for us, I can legally take the guns to a shoot and meet hubby there!

Once you have your licence you will need to inform your firearms officer about any gun purchase or sale.

Safety Equipment

Most clay grounds insist on ear protection, a hat of some sort and eyewear.

There is a huge amount of ear defenders around, but whilst learning I have found the best option (without spending a fortune) is Honeywell Howard Leight 1013530 Impact Sport Foldable Ear Defenders. These amplify ambient sound so you can hear your instructor but cut out the high decible sounds like shotgun fire.  Many use the 'in-ear' versions of these but the sensible ones are expensive and my lottery win is not in sight yet Yawn

Your choice of hat is up to you but a peak of some sort is a bonus for incoming clays that break close, or 'no birds' etc.  Most wear caps or baseball hats, they are merely to save a faceful of clay shards but when the sun is bright or low in the sky a peak is very helpful.

Eye protection is normally insisted on for the same reason, however, if you wear prescription glasses or dark glasses these are sufficient.  For the more dedicated shooter special glasses are available (again for an arm and a leg if made to prescription) They come in various colours to suit different conditons / colours of clay targets.

What To Wear

Obviously different seasons require different clothes but it is probably advisable that your top layer is always the same.

There are all sorts of shooting jackets available, most have a leather pad on the side of the chest  up to the shoulder to help gun mount.  I opted for a skeet vest which will serve me in all seasons and is able to cope with a few layers underneath when the weather is cold.

Most of my shooting has been in the cold so far and I have made a few mistakes along the way.  Bulky clothing, or anything that rucks up underneath is not only uncomfortable but seems to hinder your standard gun mount.  Zips and collars need to be kept well clear so I have opted for thin thermal tight fitting layers ... and loads of them lol.  A snood is a good way to keep everything nailed down and keeps the wind chill out.

A thermal layer under your trousers is also a bonus, and a good tough pair of footware as the ground underfoot is often uneven with broken clays, spent cartriges and all sorts littering your path.

Don't be fooled though you will be surprised how hot you get when you are actually shooting!

In between actual shooting a big overcoat can help when it is really rough so long as you are prepared to chuck it on the ground when your time comes to shoot - there are not often many coat hooks at a clay ground!

PPE for your shotgun?  


Rings, bracelets, bangles and watches can cause serious damage over time to your precious fore end and stock woodwork.  My solution is fingerless gloves.  

Earrings, if not large, won’t affect your gun, but they can have a huge impact on your sanity after prolonged pressure from your ear defenders, as can the arms of your glasses and your hat if you have ears like mine.... just so you are aware lol.

Essential Basic Tuition

This is not so much about shooting but safety and etiquette in gun handling. 

They advise that you will need ear defenders, glasses if you don't wear prescription ones and hats to help you avoid all those broken clays falling from the sky. 

Most shooting grounds will insist on this having been done before you are allowed loose at their traps.

Nobody wants to see you wandering around with a closed gun out of the slip unless it is in a designated trap, aiming in the right direction and ready to be shot.

You will learn how to hold and carry a gun safely, never carry the gun loaded even with snap caps as they can be easily mistaken for live cartridges.  Most grounds forbid snap caps full stop!! 

It is essential the gun is broken, empty and pointing away from everything and everyone at all times unless you are about to shoot, and the confidence this gives others is of the utmost importance… this includes snap-caps because they can be virtually indistinguishable from cartridges when in the gun chambers.

They will show you the correct way to stand and hold the gun and when they are satisfied you will get to shoot a few targets ... Yay


I have mentioned this several times but I can't stress how much this has helped me to become confident with lifting, mounting, opening, closing and emptying the gun (using snap caps of course)  The more you can practice at home the less you will find daunting or hard work during your early shooting experiences.  These things will become second nature to you and will build your confidence in front of others.

Gun Fitting

Everyone upon everyone will tell you to have your gun fitted.

An experienced shooter can probably shoot most guns successfully, but most will tell you they have a favourite, it has been fitted and they achieve their best results with it.

Beware the man with one gun!!!

It is a dilemma, you chose your gun because you like the look and feel of it then someone advises to stick stuff to it, or chop it about to help your scores.

Most gun sellers will tell you as a newbie that it fits perfectly - they simply want to sell a gun.  The chances of this are really pretty slim in reality it seems.

Gun stocks can be steam heated and 'bent' a bit to give more cast or raise the comb slightly (entirely dependent on the wood I'm guessing)

As a woman with a 'strange' shoulder pocket, high cheekbones and a long neck apparently, more drastic action needed to be taken if I don't want to spoil it's looks ... but that is another story.

Some come with adjustments but my personal taste would not allow this so spending more, for drastic alteration seems my only option. 

I guess the best I can advise is that you try several guns before buying and have an experienced shooter with you when you eventually do buy.  Clearly this is not an easy option if you are desperate to get your hands on your own, but be prepared for disappointments along the way if you haven't done your homework as I didn't. 

My main failing was not realising that with practice and newfound muscle memory, the gun would not feel so heavy anymore and that I had more steady control with my husbands more weighty gun... balance plays a big part here too - if you shorten the stock the gun becomes more front heavy and visa versa, and a well balanced gun is far easier to handle.   Unbalanced, front heavy guns can have weights added to the stock cavity.

Online Traders

Just Cartridges

Gun Shops

Reigate Gunmakers

Reigate Surrey

F A Andersons

East Grinstead Sussex
RH19 3AF

Chris Potter Country Sports

Tunbridge Wells Kent

The Gun Shop, Botley

Southampton Hampshire
SO30 2GB


Greenwood Gunsmiths

Tern Hill

Tony Sorrell

Northall Clay Pigeon Club
Northall Farm
Fletching, East Sussex
TN22 3SA

Recommended snacking

The Tea Shop Reigate

Reigate Surrey

Useful A to Z

Governing Bodies


Clay Pigeon Shooting Association

Shotgun Licence Applications


Local Shooting

Southdown Gun Club and Shooting School

Our first impressions

Findon, West Sussex
BN14 0RQ

Headley Clay Pigeon Shooting Club

Our first impressions

From Phil the Owner

Headley, Surrey
KT18 6LD

Mill Farm Clay Pigeon Club

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Mill Farm, Hankham Hall Road
Westham, Pevensey
BN24 5AG

Northall CPC

Our first impressions

Northall Farm
Fletching, East Sussex
TN22 3SA

Not so local but recommended

West Kent Shooting School

Old Hay
off Pearsons Green Road
Paddock Wood, Brenchley
Kent, TN12 7DG

Lains Shooting School

SP11 8PX

West Midlands Shooting Ground

Market Drayton

Orsten Shooting Ground

Bottesford Lane
NG13 9NX

Atkin Grant & Lang Shooting Ground

Windmill Road
Markyate St Albans

Local Shooting Instruction

Stirling Shooting

Offering private 1:1 or group shooting lessons in Sussex

The Andrew Loedolff Shooting Academy
Headey Clay Pigeon Shooting Club

Offering essential and advanced basic training and 1:1 instruction in Surrey


Shooting grounds and shops UK


Your Licence
Gun Cabinets
Safety Equipment
What to wear
Essential Basic Tuition
Gun fitting


Promatic Traps
Your car
Useful YouTube Videos

Shotgun styles and vintage pros and cons

Personal views from the man of the house

Shotgun Basics

Parts of the gun
Basic gun types
Gun mount
Gun mount
Gun down or gun up?
Steel or lead shot?

Shooting Disciplines



Recommended for any beginner who isn't a natural