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Our story - part 3...     back    next

Southdown Gun Club & Shooting School

Armed with our certificates we decided to officially show our faces at Southdown Gun Club & Shooting School to sort out our membership and find out what it was all about.

We were greeted at the desk by a smiley face explaining that we needed to have our mugshot taken for our membership cards (she would pick me on a bad hair day lol)

Reluctantly we did as we were told, waved our EBT certificates and asked what the chances of having a little practice shoot today was.

Southdown Gun Club & Shooting School

"Of course!" was the answer... I could feel my tummy going all wobbly!!

We explained that we had done our EBT at Headley and produced our proof, they were happy with this and said providing we had hats, glasses and ear protection all was good,

 Since we didn't have our own membership cards yet she gave us a club card and explained the promatic trap system and found a friendly groundsman Arron to show us how to use it.

The card is charged with a certain amount of once we were finished we should come back and pay for what we had used.

We explained to Arron the groundsman that we were newbies and he took us to one of their practice stands and showed us the ropes, then left us to it.

Once I had fired the first shot desperately trying to remember all the things I'd been told and putting them into practice without an instructor present, I finally relaxed and did hit a few targets.

Pete slipped back into his 'gun down' mode and totally out-classed me unsurprisingly Yawn

We went back to the clubroom, had a cup of tea and paid for the clays we had used, feeling exhaused again but full of excitement we called it a day.

Clearly lots of practice was needed but the journey had begun!


Southdown Gun Club & Shooting School


Promatic Traps

If you visit the websites of some shooting grounds you may come across the fact that they employ Promatic traps with Claymate controllers. What this means is that you will need a card charged with clays provided by the ground in order to use the traps. If you become a member you will be issued with one of your own which you can top up as and when you choose.

If you are a visitor you will be given a club one pre-charged and pay only for the clays you actually use.

At each stand you will find one of these :-

Promatic trap

Pop your card under the clip and choose your options. If you are on your own you can choose to send a clay up after a pre-determined time period from pressing the button. Alternatively there will be a remote control which will activate the trap simultaniously.

These type of traps give you the freedom to use any stand when not in competition, in this case there will be a referee who will do it for you and mark your scores on your behalf.

A little more description here from our friend Iain Stirling who is a professionally qualified freelance shooting instructor at Southdown and also offers private tutoring.

Back at home Excited

Feeling tired but excited, we discussed our adventure at length and cleaned our guns.

Pete was complimentary and supportive, but on reflection I quietly realised there was a long way to go, these had been straightforward targets and I hadn't actually hit that many lol.

I was ready to go again... can we go now? ... can we? ....when can we? Yawn

Neither of us are very patient it seems, so the next opportunity wasn't long to wait for, off we went but this time we ventured down 'the lane' to the sporting targets, hmm not such a good result lol.

My confidence was brimming but my mind was not focussed - feet, leaning in, thinking about lead, every shot something was forgotten... practice... practice... practice

My other problem was, every time someone came up behind us, I panicked and completely lost the plot!  I couldn't hit anything when someone was watching lol.


Return to Headley

The fortnight passed quickly and we had decided to try 'Down The Line'

We booked in and watched and waited until it was our turn.

We had assumed these to be easier targets than some of the sporting ones we had come across - how wrong can you be?

They are all at the same height but the angle is random and by the time you realise which way they are going they are almost in the next county!

The distraction of rushing when it is your turn didn't help (you are in a squad so I didn't want to hold anyone up!)

The referee was sympathetic and looked after me thankfully, I hit 8 out of 25 Yawn but when it was over, broke the shocking news that I was over the top of almost every clay!!!

I have no idea how they can see this but clearly some can, and he was adament!

What this meant is that my gun fit/mount was wrong Yawn

The main topic of conversation after this outing was further help and instruction, and maybe .... gunfitting!

This had to go on the back burner - funds were not a plenty, but we did find a simulator that might help at The Gun Shop, Botley.

This seemed like a great idea, we could both share an hour and the types and speed of the targets are all programmable!



The Gunshop Botley

We booked our slot and went on a little road trip to Botley just east of Southampton.

We met Jonny, I was starstruck lol - he has done countless gun reviews and other gun related video's on Youtube!

We told him we had booked the simulator and had a general chat as to why.

He kindly had a look at me with my little Beretta and agreed some alteration would be beneficial.

The Gun Shop Botley

Nothing that involved a saw so I was comforted somewhat and we planned to pay him another visit when we were feeling more flush.

The Simulator

The ST-2 system, from Marksman Training Systems

We met up with Dave who took us up to the simulator room. This was an impressive setup, a huge screen maybe 15 foot across and 6 feet high (don't quote me though lol). The scenery was realistic and you almost felt like you were outside!

Everything was explained to us and Dave fitted a sensor to my gun.

We explained our situation and he set up some simple targets to start with and explained where and how to shoot them. The images are very realistic and although you do all the normal things the gun just doesn't fire it simply simulates. He ran back through the shots with me and showed all sorts of clever on screen, diagnostic images so I could see exactly where I was aiming and where I actually shot in relation to the targets.

The Simulator at the Gun Shop Botley

He advised on changes I should make to my approach to the targets etc and before long I was consistently hitting the simulated clays all be them simple ones lol.

Pete and I swapped several times because although we were not actually shooting and there was no recoil, we were still not gun fit and mounting our guns so many times in that short period of time was hard work!

I would highly recommend this, even if just for the experience, although I would definitely say share the hour session with a friend it's surprisingly hard work.

We learned a lot that day!

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
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