The London Shooting Club was hosting an event for Home House, the private member's club and I had joined them for a refresher day. Some guests had never picked up a gun before, whilst others wanted to recharge their skills. I'd shot a lot in my early twenties but latterly on various clay shoots in the country; for me it's wonderful way to keep my love of country sports but without the killing aspect. The tutors at West London are superb, - you're matched with a gun suitable for your skills, simple but vital. A gun that's too powerful will kick back on your shoulder and can cause serious damage over time. I was matched with a 20 bore – often called a 'ladies gun' it's small and light but does a neat job and is easily to handle . Those who regularly shoot can be snobby about using a 12 bore or particular make, but as some of the boys found out, my 20 bore outshot many of them. The skill lies with the shooter, not the gun!
The tutors at the school are patient in explaining all things to you, and work at your level – making some feel confident in handling the gun, in others correcting bad habits, and with all helping train that coordination so that everyone hit a decent amount of shots. A great trainer makes all the difference, Paul was our expert instructor and the care and appreciation for his sport made a huge impression on us all that day and I could definitely see a marked improvement on my shots as we moved along the different target ranges. The mix of 'rabbit' 'pheasant' and 'woodcock' clays that fly out of traps and behind trees tests all skills and reaction times and is also perfect if you want to use as warm up to game shooting.
By the end of the day the two teams were set head-to-head and the competitive nature ran rampant as the guests engaged in a flurry competition to finish. I'm pleased to say that if you look closely at the picture you'll see me on the right hitting the 'flare' orange clay, with much furore to some of the boys who hadn't even loaded !
If you've never tried clay shooting it's a great way to be sociable and know that you are in safe expert hands too. The London Shooting Club does a variety of shooting days and packages tailored for all skills and prices points; from a ladies day with Purdey to a grouse courses for the more advanced. They link with various estates for the full country experience and are happy to help with large groups. Will I be going back? I love the idea of a 'simulated shoot' they hold where you combine the full on formality of a traditional shoot but with clays. That's an ideal combination for me and the more I've learnt, the more I want to shoot. And my dogs? They haven't stopped talking about it yet !