If you’re in the UK and have the itch to try your hand at shooting, there’s plenty on offer. You may or may not have an idea of what shooting sports there are in the UK, but there’s so many different niches and variations, that you may find something even better suited to you. In today’s article, we’re going to give you a run-down of all the common gun-related shooting sports you can tilt your hand at, and how to get involved.
We’re going to break them down by “type” this isn’t an official break down of the sports, but hopefully will draw your eye into the kind of shooting you’re looking for. Bare in mind that, if you’re interested in shooting, and eventually buying, firearms you should familiarise yourself with UK firearm law.
Note: It’s important to remember that these sports absolutely welcome new shooters. Shooting is widely criticised and under scrutiny daily in the UK. The more enthusiasts that can show the popularity of the sports, the better. Don’t be put off because you feel like a sport might be an elite club for the highly skilled, they want new people to enjoy the sport with as much as you want to enjoy it with them.
Target shooting is what it says on the tin – Shooting at steel or paper. Target shooting is perfect for the kind of shooter that enjoys a calm, relaxed day of shooting.
However, there are a few different variations and disciplines which may tickle your fancy depending on what you’re looking for.
Basic Target Shooting
Target shooting at a range is about as “vanilla” as it gets. It’s just you, the rifle, some paper, and the distance in between. Target shooting is about honing your skills as a shooter. The aim is to become as accurate as possible. This discipline comes in a variety of different styles though.
You could do target shooting with an air-rifle over relatively short distances (10-30 meters), or you could be using a full-bore rifle out to 1000 meters. The skill is knowing how to hit the target, no matter the conditions.
Clay Pigeon Shooting
We recently did an article outlining all about clay pigeon shooting. Clay pigeon shooting is a target sport, that simulate live quarrel shooting. If you’re interested in the sport of shooting and more of a skill based sport, but not particularly interested in shooting live game, then clay pigeon shooting may be the sport for you.
Practical shooting is, as the name suggests, a more practical form of shooting. It’s the art of using a firearm effectively and quickly during different scenarios and in different environments. It surrounds a discipline known as “dynamic marksmanship”, in that targets react, move, are partially covered or behind obstacles. You’re timed and scored based on your accuracy and speed. You must move between points / targets and hit them with speed and accuracy. Some scenarios, have more targets than your weapon can hold ammunition, forcing you to reload quickly and smoothly.
AIPSC is very similar to what’s outlined above, in “practical shooting” however, it’s the use of airsoft pistols for the same sport. Why? Well, with the Firearms Act 1997, firearm pistols were banned. This therefore makes it impossible to do practical pistol shooting with a firearm (the UK Olympic Pistol Shooting Team trains abroad). Therefore, the practical pistol shooting community turned to airsoft, to fill the gap.
AIPSC is a safe and easier way to get into shooting sports, whilst learning the safe handling and procedures of operating a firearm.
Live Shooting / hunting
Shooting live quarrel is a little more complicated in the UK. It’s not necessarily the seasons or licenses that make it complicated, it’s the permission.
To shoot, you must have permission from the land owner, something which may be difficult for you to attain as a new shooter. Before you start out live quarrel shooting or hunting, you must read up on the laws, regulations, seasons, and requirements for you to shoot legally. We’re not going to get into the differences between shooting for sport, hunting or to protect land. However, please be aware that there is a difference and some animals are protected. Check with the government website for more information.
For the most part, shooting game birds such as grouse, pheasant, partridge and woodcock can be done in 3 different ways; a driven shoot, a walk-up shoot or rough shooting.
Driven Shooting / Walk-Up Shoot
In a driven shoot, you (the shooter) are stationed as part of a line. The game birds are then driven by beaters towards you. The beaters will start far away, and slowly walk towards you, disturbing the birds and causing them to take flight, giving you an opportunity to shoot them down. Driven shoots are steeped in hundreds of years of tradition and have a number of rules that need to be stuck to. This kind of shooting can be a little hard to get into and to not put your foot in it. You may be best joining a friend or simply asking to join as a “non-shooter” to observe and learn.
Driven shoots are done in thicker growth and trees, whereas walk-up shoots are traditionally done in more open land, such as moors.
Rough shooting is a more social and group sport, where a group of people traverse the land, looking for game to flush out and shoot. This sport, is less traditional and more social for a group, however is inherently dangerous for new-comers and inexperienced shooters, due to walking freely with firearms.