WE’RE GOING ON A CLAY SHOOT!
Clay shooting is great fun but you will have an even better experience if you are prepared and have all the necessary kit. I have split my checklist into two parts; essential and optional items.
Essential Shooting Kit
1 Your Gun
It has been known for people to turn up for some clay shooting without their guns or even with the wrong gun!
2 Shotgun Licence
You must always carry your Shotgun licence with you when you have your gun and you will need it also for purchasing cartridges.
If you are a bit twitchy about chokes then you will need your full set of chokes and the choke key. Personally, I like to keep things simple and not stress about chokes so I leave them at home!
4 Gun Slip
You will need your gun slip for transport purposes and carrying your gun around the shooting ground. If there is a handy pocket in the gun slip you can put your chokes in there.
5 Ear Protection
This is essential! Ear protection may be in the form of earmuffs or earplugs; the earplugs can be custom moulded or generic, electronic or plain. Earmuffs can be electronic too. The cost varies according to how smart they are, (for instance some earplugs come with Bluetooth now), but the cheaper forms of ear protection are sufficient.
Whatever your preference, please ensure you wear them to protect your hearing in the longer term. I always carry a spare pair of earplugs with me in the car and in my bag, in case I drop one and can’t find it, or as happened on one occasion, it fell on the floor and my dog ate it!
6 Eye Protection
It is absolutely essential to protect your eyes from stray pieces of clay and, although hopefully not, but stray shots as well. Most shooting grounds insist on eye protection but even if they don’t I recommend you wear it; you only have one pair of eyes!
Most shooting glasses come with interchangeable lenses of different colours. Your selection of lens depends on background and light and your own personal preference.
Shooting glasses are not required if you wear prescription glasses for shooting. However, you can get shooting lenses with fixings for prescription lenses behind or actually get the coloured lenses made up to a prescription.
7 Lens Cleaning Cloth
It’s a good idea to have a lens cleaning cloth handy in case you get an annoying smudge on your glasses that can interfere with your shooting.
These should be appropriate for your gun in terms of the length of the cartridge with regard to the length of the chamber of the gun. In addition, the cartridges should be appropriate for the discipline you are shooting in terms of shot size and weight. Double-check the cartridges are the correct gauge for your gun too. Check with the venue if you need fibre wad or if you can use plastic.
I recommend you always take plenty more cartridges than you think you will need as there is nothing more annoying than running out when you want to shoot more!
9 Cartridge Bag
A cartridge bag of some sort to carry your cartridges around in is always handy rather than having your pockets overstuffed or juggling boxes which you might drop resulting in cartridges everywhere!
10 Head protection
A baseball cap is the most common form of head protection but any hat that doesn’t interfere with your vision or your gun mount or shooting generally is OK. A hat is not considered quite as essential as ear and eye protection but is recommended depending on the discipline you are shooting. From experience, I can tell you that it can be very painful if you get hit by a piece of clay travelling at speed towards you – surprisingly so – and can draw blood!
11 Skeet Vest/Gilet/Shooting Jacket
Whilst you don’t necessarily need a proper skeet vest or shooting gilet or jacket for shooting, they are designed for the job and for an unhindered gun mount. They usually have a reinforced recoil panel on the shoulder and they have big pockets to hold your cartridges in so they can be easily accessed but don’t fall out. They allow your arms to move freely and they don’t have big fluffy collars, hoods, fashion features or pockets in weird places that get in the way of mounting the gun!
12 Hair Tie
If you have long hair, I highly recommend you have it tied back for shooting. Hair flapping about in front of your eyes can definitely have a detrimental effect on your shooting!
13 Mobile Phone in Case of Emergency
It’s always a good idea to have your mobile phone handy just in case there is an emergency of any kind. Or you might want to take some photos of your shooting too!
You never know when it might rain! I usually take waterproofs with me as a precaution as I hate being caught out unless there is zero chance of rain. Waterproofs are also good protection from the cold especially when it is windy!
If it is wet I recommend taking a small towel with you to dry your gun off before you shoot, so you can hold your gun without your hands slipping about or dry your gun off before putting it back in the slip.
I recommend sturdy footwear for shooting, no heels! You need a flat stable base when you are shooting, especially if you are in a field or on a rough track.
Depending on the weather, I recommend thin layers so you can add or peel off according to how warm or cold you feel. Again, you need to be able to move your arms freely and don’t want your clothing to interfere with the gun mounting process.
Optional Shooting Kit
Personally, I prefer not to wear gloves for shooting as I like to feel the gun, but if it is just too cold then I succumb! Some people like to wear them all the time. I recommend shooting specific gloves which are usually thin and allow you to grip the gun; thick or woolly gloves do not allow you to feel or have proper contact with the gun and can be slippy.
I always like to take a drink with me when I shoot. If it’s a long day, I might take some snacks too!
20 Recoil pad
If you are sensitive to recoil you may need a recoil pad. However, if recoil is a problem, I suggest you look at your gun fit, gun mount and cartridges; recoil shouldn’t really be a problem.
21 Gun Cleaning Kit
For the keen ones amongst you, you could take your cleaning kit with you, which is not a bad idea particularly if it has been wet. Do not put a wet gun back into the gun slip or into a wet gun slip for any length of time; the barrels will go rusty very quickly!
22 Sun Tan Lotion
If it’s hot then it is recommended you use suntan lotion. Beware of getting it in your eyes as it can sting massively and cause eye-watering which is not helpful to shooting; nor are greasy hands for holding a gun so wash your hands after putting it on.
23 Spare Parts
If you have any basic spare parts for your gun then keep them handy or in your gun slip say, just in case. If you are at a shooting ground there may be a gunsmith available to fix the gun if you have the part. I use a Perazzi and find the V springs go on a regular basis so I always have spares with me.
Have you ever caught your finger on the ejector, especially with a new gun, and it won’t stop bleeding? It’s very annoying if you are trying to shoot, so I usually keep a couple of plasters in my bag just in case, and a packet of tissues.
25 Insulating tape
This stuff is very useful if say you have a loose rib or butt plate. In addition, if you have a rubber butt plate that is catching on your jacket when you mount the gun, then cover it in insulating tape, and bingo, it will slide into your shoulder nicely, and all sorted!
26 CPSA/BASC Card
It is not essential to carry these but they have the phone numbers on them and show you have valid insurance.
If anyone has anything to add to this list I would love to hear from you!
IN THE MEANTIME HAPPY SHOOTING EVERYONE!
ESSENTIAL SHOOTING KIT CHECK LIST
☐ Gun slip
☐ Gun licence
☐ Ear protection
☐ Eye protection
☐ Lens cleaning cloth
☐ Cartridge bag
☐ Head protection
☐ Shooting vest
☐ Hair tie
☐ Mobile phone
OPTIONAL SHOOTING KIT CHECK LIST
☐ Recoil pad
☐ Gun cleaning kit
☐ Sun tan lotion
☐ Spare parts
☐ Insulating tape
☐ CPSA/BASC card