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Shooting has been a qualified, Olympic sport since 1896, this date marking the first international Olympic games of modern-day history. The sport has become the source of a lot of controversy throughout the UK. This is particularly within the area of game shooting (covering the hunting of wild mammals and birds, usually pheasants or ducks.)

As a result, strict guidelines now surround all types of shooting and gun ownership in the UK. These guidelines control which animals can be hunted, when and how this may be done and what type of equipment shooters can use when hunting.

Within the field of shooting for sport, there are various disciplines. Each discipline utilises different guns, distances and targets. All of these can be undertaken across the UK and in Sussex at Southdown Gun Club.

Game Shooting in the UK

One of the more controversial shooting disciplines is known as ‘game shooting.’ This type of shooting involves the hunting of any wild mammal and/or bird. This can be for either sport or food (sometimes both). Due to the nature of the sport, the UK government have enforced strict guidelines. These guidelines must be followed when taking part in game shooting across the UK:

  • Birds – Shooters can only hunt certain types of birds for game shooting, and can only do this during the shooting season. In addition to this, shooting can only be done in certain areas of the country.
  • Mammals – There are also regulations for hunting mammals such as deer and foxes. It is illegal in the UK to use dogs when hunting foxes. The fox must also be shot quickly and humanely when found. A licence is required when wanting to shoot deer when outside of shooting season, or during the night. When hunting deer, there are also strict guidelines shooters must stick to regarding what type of ammunition and guns can be used.

UK Rules and Regulations for Shooting

Before getting into the various different types of sports shooting out there, as the sport deals with potentially dangerous firearms, it is important to know the legalities behind the use of such equipment. You will need to hire or purchase the correct firearms from a licensed gun room in the UK to be able to take part in any shooting.

UK law state that regulations surrounding the use of firearms for both hunting and shooting must be followed at all times. This is for all circumstances. Those who take part in illegal hunting or shooting on land without express permission from the landowner, and those causing an unnecessary amount of suffering to the hunted animal can be hit with either a fine or prison sentence.


UK Gun Certificates

In the UK, you must have a valid certificate to both own and use a rifle, shotgun or another type of firearm. More information on shotgun and firearm certification this can be found here. When taking part in game shooting, it is also illegal to use either explosives or bows and crossbows. Now that the basic rules and regulations for guns and game shooting have been established, here are some of the other more common practices of shooting for sport.

Shooting Sports (Rifle)

This category includes all of the main types of shooting for sport that use a rifle.

Benchrest Shooting

A particular type of shooting sport in which rifles are used to shoot at paper targets from a bench.

Popinjay Shooting

Also used in archery practices, Popinjay shooting involves shooting at targets hung from a pole. These targets are meant to look like birds and are shot with a rifle.

Fullbore Target Rifle Shooting

Shooters try to hit at paper targets with a rifle whilst in the prone position (lying the full-body face down).

Shooting Sports (Shotgun)

This category includes all of the main types of shooting for sport that use a shotgun.

Clay Pigeon Shooting

Shooters aim for flying targets shot out of a machine, traditionally in the form of a clay pigeon (hence the name).

Sporting Clays

This type of shooting requires participants to move around a course and aim for moving targets. These targets move at various different angles, distances, and speeds.

Skeet Shooting

Shooters aim for flying clay disks in an attempt to break them up.

Shooting Sports (Pistol)

This category includes all of the main types of shooting for sport that use a pistol.

Metallic Silhouette Shooting

As the name suggests, this type of shooting requires players to shoot at metal silhouette targets. They are typically designed in the outline of an animal. Human-like silhouettes are illegal in the UK.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting

A more mobile form of shooting for sport, Cowboy Mounted Shooting requires players to shoot at various different targets whilst riding a horse.

Practical Shooting

Shooters use handguns to shoot at various different moving targets.

Skills Required for Shooting

Shooting is an intense sport that requires numerous different skills; including fierce concentration, stamina, strength, and above all else, great hand-eye coordination. Part of the beauty of this unique game is its heavy reliance on mental ability above all else. This has led to a diverse pool of shooters from all ages, shapes, and sizes. The oldest Olympic champion being Oscar Swahn, winning gold at the age of 64.


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