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Our story - part 2...     back    next

The Shopping Trip Excited

Finally the day came, Reigate first to pick up Pete’s precious B25, then a trip to Andersons to see the resident gunmaker about B25 stock re-finishing, then on to Potters to pick up the B125..

We had already been told that the little 20g silver pigeon was never going to stay in the shop for long but I was hopeful that maybe one of the shops on our visit list today may have another little gem that might suit me…

First gun in the bag from Reigate and a big smile on Pete’s face!

We arrived at Andersons. As I walked in, a cheeky grin appeared on Marvin’s face and he promptly disappeared upstairs. When he returned he said he had something for me!!!

That beautiful little gun!! Learning to shoot a shotgun Pete had sneakily put a deposit on it weeks ago - I was so excited I nearly had a girly accident!!

We met Paul the very friendly gunmaker and he talked Pete into leaving his beloved B25 for stock refinishing, kindly removed the auto safety on my new gun after complementing it on it’s condition and waved us goodbye.

 Me with a gun and poor old Pete without! Learning to shoot a shotgun 

The day was saved for him when he collected his glorious B125 from Potters.

Beretta Silver Pigeon V

3 Guns!

So now we were the proud owners of 3 guns. 

It took quite a bit of research but something to be very aware of, if you are going to share a gun cabinet then you must 'share' ownership of the guns otherwise legally speaking you are not allowed to open the gun cabinet unless you are both present!! ... who would have thought it.Yawn

This is not a difficult thing to do, you simply fill each anothers certificate in with your gun details and state 'shared' so that all guns are on both certificates.

The next thing to think about was maybe thinking about shooting them??? 

Preparing for our first outing clever

We didn't want to just rock up somewhere unprepared and looking like complete numpties so needed to do a bit more shopping and preparing.

Ear defenders and baseball caps were on the list, plus, of course cartridges.

Cartridges can be bought from most shooting grounds but the prices vary and the choices can be limited, there is always a poitive cost implication for buying in bulk, so we found an online supplier who offers good prices and is only one of only a few who can legally deliver to your door. Just Cartridges.  They have a large varied selection.

Apparently - so I was told endlessly...Yawn I needed to practice mounting the gun and emptying it so snap caps were a definite requirement, these are also used to protect the firing pins if you accidentally pull the trigger.

Beware cheap offerings .... they can come up undersized falling beyond the ejectors and jamming the gun!!  Yawn

Snap caps in and ready to learn, I spent the next week lifting and swinging the gun around at home for a few minutes every hour or two. Pete helped the best he could with my gun mounting, opening and closing the gun, which was really unnatural to me. The ejectors scared the hell out of me, snap caps pinging around the room when I opened the gun, so aiming them at a bucket was how I went forward.

This gun handling at home was, as it turns out, very valuable.  My muscle memory improved and soon the weight bothered me less and everything started to feel easier and much more natural.Yawn

 We bought some cracking ear defenders which enhance speech but cut out the bangs – if I could wear them all the time I would – my hearing is getting worse with age lol.

Baseball caps and prescription glasses for protection and we were ready to go!

Where to go first?

We had applied for membership at Southdown Gun club local to us but decided on Headley Clay Pigeon Shooting Club for our first outing after much research, they looked friendly and the response emails I got gave me confidence they would be gentle with me in this male dominated world. We booked Essential Basic Tuition with them and arrived apprehensive but positive and full of smiles. Pete opted to go through the entire process with me as a lot of years had passed since he had shot a gun and he had actually never had any formal instruction to speak of..

We also thought that we could help one another going forward having heard one another’s instruction.

Headley Clay Pigeon Shooting Club

We got a very warm welcome at Headley, a bacon roll, tea and coffee.

We walked down to a small clearing and were given instruction on safety, signed disclaimers and then were looked at for eye dominance etc. by a giant of a man called Ollie. (I think I came up to his belly button lol)  I actually have monocular vision so decided that I would shoot right handed with my left eye closed and Ollie was happy with this.  We practiced mounting the gun starting with the gun pointing up to about 10 o’clock pushing into the shoulder and moving it down to horizontal to get it in a good position.

It was decided at this point that I have a ‘funny’ shoulder and my stock was a little too low for me.  I started to deflate a bit with all my oddities but was advised that I should pay Aaron a visit at Southdown Gun Club (our local in Findon) for gun fitting advice since I was so ‘special’ lol.  This would not affect today but would be a worthwhile thing to do.

We followed Ollie into the practice stand as a group of 5.  We talked about gun etiquette, breaking the gun, carrying and holding the gun safely.

He advised that he would be doing all the opening, loading and unloading of the guns (empty cartridge catching was concerning me greatly... phew!!

Since the purchase of my gun, it had not fired a shot so I asked if he could try it first for me and he willingly agreed…. He liked my gun too and proceeded to show it to all the other instructors of the day lol.

Then the time came for me to shoot....

Wood is good and get your finger away from that trigger!!

I was very nervous by this time, I had shot once in my youth and I could still remember the kick and the eventual bruise but was pleasantly surprised how little I felt and the reason was the pulling of the gun tight into my shoulder and the pushing down of my cheek on the stock – I was in control!!

Shoot the clay! Yawn

Point your left foot toward the kill point and right foot back a bit at about 45 deg, lean into the gun, pull it tight into your shoulder and shoot the target …. Simples!

He loaded the gun for me, I closed it, mounted as instructed and called ‘PULL’ for the clay ….OMG the target was gone before I had even spotted it lol.

We talked about trees, branches and leaves until I was clear where the clay would be going and where I was to attempt to shoot it… yesssss!

I struggled to concentrate with all the different things to remember, had my feet kicked into the correct position and my shoulders moved several times and my finger moved away from the trigger between shots but managed to hit a few clays – I was a happy bunny.

Pete had always shot ‘gun down’ a bit of an instinctive shooter, bless him he tried to follow instruction to the letter, but it was clear he found ‘gun up’ completely alien.

Apparently I did quite well but it was clear I was too tired to try anything else that day … I was completely shattered!

We got our certificates and complimentary lunch - chicken, sausages, salad, pitta bread and a very welcome cuppa and sat down.

Everybody seemed to know one another and the atmosphere seemed very friendly.

Headley has a 'once a fortnight' Saturday shoot, membership is restricted but we got the invite to join and went for it!

Shotgun Essential Basic Training with Ollie

Your car

Something we never considered when starting this hobby was our cars.

Both Pete and I having reached our mid-life crisis had sporty cars with low ground clearance. Headley, and just about every other shooting ground we have visited since has a section of bumpy track that you have to navigate to get in!! Some are not so bad but some can be pretty treacherous especially in the winter months lol

Yes - of course you can take it slowly and avoid the worst bits, but when you have a queue of eager shooters behind you... well you don't want to upset anyone by getting in their way! - even worse... you might meet someone coming the other way after a bad day shooting and have to take evasive action lol!!!

Mad car driver

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

Our first impressions

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
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Gun mount
Gun mount
Gun down or gun up?
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Shooting Disciplines



Recommended for any beginner who isn't a natural