Driven shooting in England was abruptly stopped by the lockdown that came into force at the start of November. We were asked to limit travelling and stay in the local area. However, there are plenty of things we can do while we sit it out. You can still improve your shooting during lockdown and prepare for its return on 2 December. While some of the best days of the season may have been lost, dwelling on this will not help. After all, there is always next season!
Improve your shooting during lockdown
You can sharpen your shooting skills indoors. All you need is your shotgun and a bit of space. Take your empty gun and face a wall where you can easily identify the line between the wall and ceiling. Starting at one corner of the room, mount your empty gun and follow this line with the muzzle of your gun until you reach the next corner. Think about the positioning of your feet. Concentrate on a smooth mount and swing, keeping your cheek on the comb.
Repeating this until you can smoothly run the bead along the line will make your shooting more fluid and smoother out on the field. Add some snap caps and you can practise pulling the trigger as you move the bead along. Make sure you do not stop or slow down as you pull the trigger. Of course, be safe while doing this and never point the gun in a dangerous direction. Avoid standing in front of windows or draw the curtains so nobody outside can see you. If you can practice outside in privacy, even better. But always make sure the chambers are empty or only have snap caps in.
Make this exercise even better!
My father pointed out someone could run a laser pointer along the wall so the person with the gun could attempt to follow it. I’m unsure how much this could improve our shooting during lockdown, but it would make for some extra entertainment! Once again safety is paramount, the person aiming a shotgun should be in front of the person using the laser pointer, and the chambers should always be empty.
Airgunning at home
While you may need a clay ground or range to shoot shotguns and rifles, air rifles are far easier to use at home and lockdown offers the chance to improve your airgun shooting even further. As long as you have a safe backstop, you can safely use air rifles in the garden. The rules regarding how far you are from a public footpath or a road will need to be taken into consideration though, as will appropriate adult supervision. With a safe range you can practise your grouping or just have some fun knocking down cans. If you have permission on any local land, or perhaps own some, you can still carry out pest control.
Take care of your guns
While improving your shooting during lockdown is useful, making sure that your gun is in good condition is essential, too. Lockdown is an ideal time to clean and do any maintenance on your shotgun. On a day when you would have been out shooting, take your gun out and clean it instead. The barrels, action and stock can all be cleaned. YouTube is full of useful tutorials on how to look after your shotgun, rifle or air rifle. If you’re unsure where to start, this is always a good place to look first. Your gun will be ready when we return to shooting.
Stay fit and healthy
Gyms and sport clubs may be closed but a walk with a friend is still allowed under the current restrictions. In the increasingly stressful world we live in, a walk in the countryside can help put your mind at rest. As the days draw in and winter sets in, it is easy to feel isolated. And without the social aspect of a shoot day people may struggle mentally this year. So, a walk or any other physical activity outdoors with a friend is one of the best things to do to until shooting is back. You can also be productive while walking – why not take a bag and pick up litter to keep our countryside tidy?
Although we cannot go out shooting right now, we can still make the most of the lockdown. Keeping your skills sharp will help you go back to shooting without hiccups. You’ll be able to make the most of the rest of the season. It is also as important as ever to look after your own mental health and that of the people around you.
Please remember that in some circumstances, supervision may be required when handling shotguns, even for practice or maintenance.
Ensure you never point a gun at anyone or in any unsafe direction and always check your gun is empty. If practising indoors or in the back garden, stay out of view of curious onlookers.