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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, particularly within the area of game shooting (covering the hunting of wild mammals and birds, usually pheasants or ducks.)

Strict guidelines now surround this type of shooting, as they do 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, which utilise different guns, distances and targets, all of which 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 for either sport or food (sometimes both.) Due to the nature of the sport, the UK government have enforced strict guidelines that must be followed when partaking in game shooting across the UK:

  • Birds – Shooters can only hunt certain types of birds for game shooting, and can only do this during 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, and the fox must 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 adhere 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 use of such equipment. You should also remember that you will need to hire or purchase the correct firearms from a licensed gun room in the UK to be able to partake in any shooting.

UK law state that regulations surrounding the use of firearms for both hunting and shooting must be followed at all times and in all circumstances and that those participating in illegal hunting or shooting on land without express permission from the land owner, 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 other type of firearm. More information on shotgun and firearm certification this can be found here. When partaking 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 the 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 targets moving at various different angles, distances and speed.

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, 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.

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