What Did You Achieve With Your Shooting Last Year And What Are Your Aspirations For This Year?

It’s a new year, the game season is over, and the weather’s too grotty for clay shooting!  Have you thrown your gun in to the cabinet without much thought? And will you then reacquaint yourself with it when the weather is more conducive for clays or the game season starts, and hope your shooting will have improved by osmosis?!  Are you praying that the sticky ejector will work after it’s had a rest or your gun won’t keep misfiring?!  Either way, if you want to progress your shooting, why not get busy over the winter so you can hit the ground running when you’re ready to start again?

Whatever direction you want to head, you need to know your starting point and end point, just like planning a long-distance journey; and factor in some stopping points along the way to break the journey up, so you know you are on the right track.

Service, Please!

Firstly, get your gun serviced whilst it’s not in use so it won’t let you down mid- season. Dirty or rusty guns don’t function well and can be unsafe.  Ejectors, chokes barrels, actions and trigger mechanisms need cleaning up and careful inspection.

Make sure your other equipment is in order too.  Don’t get caught out on the first day the weather turns nice to find your glasses are scratched or you’ve lost an ear plug!

Reflect on your Past Shooting

Grab a brand new note book and dedicate it to your shooting!  Make it fun and interesting; jot things down in whatever way you like; lists, spider diagrams, doodles and drawings, use different colours.  Think back on the last year of your shooting and make some notes; what went well and what didn’t go so well.  Where are you at now and have you progressed?  Talk it through with a shooting friend if that helps.

Here’s some questions you might ask yourself to establish your starting point; you may think of some others, or need some help on matters like how appropriate is your gun for you and does it fit, but the more information you have the better:

1 How much have I enjoyed my shooting and why?

2 Is my gun appropriate for me and my shooting and does it fit me?

3 Is my shooting equipment appropriate and fit for purpose? 

4 Are I confident with my gun handling skills and safety?

5 Am I happy with my shooting performance and why?  Could it be better?

6 What disciplines have I tried?  Trap, skeet, sporting, sport trap etc.

7 What different kinds of shooting have I tried?  Game, sim days, competition?

8 Am I shooting with the right people and in the right environment?

9 Where do I shoot mostly and what does it offer me?

10 What did I learn from my shooting lessons?  Do I like my instructor?

Plan for your Future Shooting

Having a plan helps you reach your goals in a logical way.  With your pen and note book in hand, brain storm ideas to help you get there.  Do some research, talk to other people, write down motivational quotes or things that will inspire you on your journey!

Here’s some more questions to ask yourself looking forwards, but again you may come up with some of your own questions as well:

1 How much of a priority is my shooting in terms of my time, energy and money? 

2 Is my preference for clays, sim game days or game days, or all three?

3 Do I need any new kit for your shooting, or a series of lessons? 

4 Do I need a new instructor?  Where can I find a great instructor?

5 What is my budget for lessons, kit, clays, birds, ammo, travel etc?

6 Can I ask family or friends for “shooting” related birthday presents, to help out?

7 Where can I get help or guidance?  Friends, instructor, organisations, CGUK?

8 How much Dry Gun Mounting can I commit to time wise? 

9 Do I want to get in to competitive shooting?  I am a member of the CPSA?

10 Which shooting grounds will help improve my shooting? Is there a high tower?

Having worked out your starting point and got some ideas on your general direction of travel and any limitations (budget/time etc) ask yourself, where do you want to end up exactly?  This is your long-term goal which you need to establish first.  Then look at the steps that will help you get there ie medium and short-term aims.  Your goals must be achievable in terms of your time, money and effort, otherwise it’s all too disheartening!   

Some examples goals are:

Long Term:   Become a safe, competent clay shot averaging 65%

Medium Term:  Practice safe gun handling skills once a week for 10 minutes

  Practice Dry Gun Mounting four times a week for 10 minutes

  Shoot clays twice a month; reinforce gun safety and good technique

Short term: Find a good coach

  Have 10 shooting lessons; focus on gun safety and good technique

Long Term: Become a safe, competent game shot

Medium Term:  Practice Dry Gun Mounting four times a week for 10 minutes

    Average 6/10 on driven targets at 30 yards

  Attend three CGUK Simulated Game Days in the summer

  Reinforce gun safety and footwork

Short Term:   Find a good coach

  Have 6 lessons on driven targets focussing on safety and footwork

In Addition

As part of your planning consider the following:

1. Start a habit of Dry Gun Mounting practice; it’s the cheapest way to improve. 

2. Watch You Tube videos and read shooting articles and CGUK blogs.

3. Research shooting grounds you would like to visit

4. Set up a “shooting fund” and start saving to help you reach your goals.

5. Make sure your insurance and Shotgun Certificates are up to date.

6. Get a Year Planner so you can plan when your free to shoot and practice

7. Contact your shooting buddies and plan some trips to the shooting ground.

8. Get a Shooting Diary to reflect each time on my shooting sessions

9. Find a good coach and book some lessons

Have fun striving for your goals!  There are plenty of other things you can add to the plan but make sure it’s fun and not a chore.  Also, remember your plan is a working document, so it might change depending on you, your circumstances and what you are enjoying or not enjoying etc, and that is as it should be.  Don’t forget to reflect at the end of the year to see if you plan worked, and then start a new plan for 2025 with new goals with the benefit of hindsight and enjoy watching and feeling your progress!  


Written by Nicki Wakeford