A beginner’s guide to clay pigeon shooting


Discover the history of clay pigeon shooting and experience a highly enjoyable day in beautiful surroundings.


10th October 2018

The Acorn Inn

A leading clay pigeon shooting range, the Dorset Shooting School, is within striking distance of The Acorn Inn, and it offers a highly enjoyable sporting day out in pristine English countryside. Clay pigeon shooting involves firing a shotgun at clay disks that are launched into the air at various trajectories and speeds by a spring-loaded device. It’s a skill that requires concentration and focus,and is hugely rewarding and satisfying.

The idea of using a mechanical target rather than wild birds, which tended to be frustratingly unpredictable, came into play in the United States in the 1870s. By the 1880s, the saucer-shaped clay targets had made their way onto British soil. The introduction of the clay target made the sport of shooting more accessible and clay pigeon shooting has since established itself as a much-loved pastime in the country. A version of it, known as trap shooting, also features in the Olympic Games. Here, we provide a few pointers on what to expect from your first session.

Dorset Shooting School

Where to try it

The Dorset Shooting School is a six-minute drive from the hotel. The expert instructors at this Clay Pigeon Shooting Association-certified venue offer have-a-go sessions for both individuals and groups.

Safety first

For beginners, learning how to correctly and safely handle a gun is of the utmost importance. If you’re new to the sport, your first session will predominantly focus on the proper way to hold a closed gun. The first rule? Never point a shotgun within a 45 degree-angle of anything that you’re not intending to shoot.

Dorset Shooting School 

Left or right?

Once you’ve learnt how to handle a gun safely, it’s time to determine which hand you’ll be shooting with and whether you have a left or right dominant eye. Interestingly, the majority of men have a dominant right eye while opposite is true for most women.

The perfect match

Now that you’ve determined what hand you’ll be holding your gun with, your instructor will help you pick the right gun for you. A variety of factors go into fitting you with a gun, including the length of the stock, the part of the gun which is held against the shoulder, as well as the weight and calibre.

Dorset Shooting School

Ready, aim, fire!

Clay targets are shot from spring-loaded stands in a trajectory that’s designed to mimic the flight path of wild fowl. You’ll learn how to follow the path of the target in order to fire the most accurate shot. To begin with, it’s worthwhile tracing the flight of the clay with your finger to familiarise yourself with its course to help you more accurately plan the perfect shot. You’ll also get to grips with clay descriptions such as ‘crosser,’ ‘overhead’ and ‘incomer.’ Once you’ve mastered a steady eye and hand, take aim and fire!

Explore the vast array of country pursuits that Dorset has to offer, including clay pigeon shooting at the Dorset Shooting School, from the comfort of The Acorn Inn.

Image credits: lead image © iStock/mikedabell. Clay targets © iStock/timalfordphoto. Clay machine and dog © iStock//Lynn_Bystrom. Woman shooting © iStock/Jedraszak.

Related Articles

Back to nature with the children

From hunting for fossils or the Gruffalo to mini beast safaris, discover thrilling activities close to Summer Lodge.

03rd December 2020

The best National Trust houses in Dorset

Explore idyllic properties with our guide to the best National Trust houses in and around Dorset.

23rd July 2020

Mapperton House
Exploring Mapperton House and Gardens

Described as the nation’s finest manor house and gardens, Mapperton House is a short drive from Summer Lodge and a must-see.

13th May 2020