Shotguns used for Clay Targets

It is extremely important that anyone using or considering the purchase of a shotgun understand the basic safety practices that must be adopted. We have therefore included in this section a guide to the safe handling of shotguns.
Gun Safety;   Insurance;  Shotgun Certificates;  Safety Courses;   Different types of shotguns;   Shotgun cleaning;   Shotguns and the Law;   Safety in the home;   Transporting safely;   Buying and Selling;   Clay Target Shooting;   Vermin Control

Gun Safety;
1 Treat every gun as if it is loaded and with the utmost respect at all times.

2 When carrying a gun it should be open and empty at all times. Pump action and semi automatics guns should be carried with the bolts drawn back, chambers and magazines empty and with a safety flag in place.

3 Always avoid alcohol when in possession of a shotgun.

4 You should only ever carry on your person cartridges of the correct gauge and chamber length to match the gun you are using.

5 All guns should be (a) "Nitro Proofed" (b) "In Proof" and (c) in a safe and sound condition to shoot.

6 Do not point or fire your gun at anything other than a clay target. (i.e.any inanimate or animate object). Failure to observe this rule will lead to disqualification and expulsion from the ground. Mounting your gun in any place other than on the range/layout will lead to disqualification from an SCTA competition. [i.e. all "selection" competitions"]

7 Before loading your gun check that the barrels are free from obstruction and they are pointing down the range area.

8 After shooting, keep the muzzles pointing down range at all times until you have opened and emptied your gun. Then and only then may you turn from the firing mark.

9 Gun Malfunction;. Keep the muzzles pointing down range until the malfunction is identified and corrected. It is advisable to wait for about 20 to 30 seconds before opening the gun in case of a "slow burning primer". If upon firing an unusual report is heard, double check barrels are clear of any obstruction.

10 Remember you and only you are responsible for the safe handling of your gun at all times. Good shooting in no accident!
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It is worth checking to find out if your gun is properly insured. Do not presume that it is covered under your household insurance policy. Your gun may NOT be insured if it is outwith you home; while in transit; in use; in poor condition; outwith Britain.
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Safety Courses.
The SCTA runs Safety Courses covering all aspects of the use and handling of shotguns. You are advised to contact the appropriate person regarding this facility.
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Different types of shotgun

Over and Under Shotgun               over and under

This is certainly the most popular choice of gun for clay target shooting. With one barrel on top of the other it gives a better perception in relation to the clay target. Many models have the facility to alter the chokes thus increasing the versatility of the shotgun. Prices range from a few hundred pounds to what ever you wish to pay for personally fitted and engraved guns

Semi Automatic                              auto shotgun

A single barreled gun, where loading and ejection of the cartridges is automatic. With the advantage of considerably reduced recoil this gun is popular with some beginners. But for competitive clay shooting there is the great disadvantage of only having one choke size for both shots.

Side by Side                                     side by side

This is a more traditional design of Shotgun many models have two triggers, one for each barrel. Although not often seen at clay shooting events this is by far the most popular gun of choice for game shooting. Multi choking is rare but available. The price of these guns can vary from a couple of hundred pounds to many, many thousands of pounds for the finest quality workmanship

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Shotgun cleaning
Cleaning your shotgun is very important here are a few tips that you may wish to consider. It only takes a few minutes to do and considerably lengthens the life of your shotgun.

• DO wait until your gun has cooled down before cleaning.
• DO use good quality cleaners and cloths.
• DO NOT leave your gun in a wet slip or gun case.
• DO NOT dry you gun by a heater, this may damage the woodwork.
• DO NOT leave your gun to dry overnight
• DO have your gun regularly serviced by someone experienced
• DO NOT consider yourself a gunsmith. Don't take your gun to bits unless you really know what you are doing
• DO NOT over oil your gun, it may run from the action and stain the woodwork.

Snap Caps
Snap Caps were originally designed to allow you to release the spring tension within the firing mechanism before storing your gun. Some owners will use these when testing trigger pulls in order to avoid damage to the firing pins. In modern shotguns it is not considered as a necessity and in fact the use of snap caps has been the cause of accidents where a live cartridge has been mistaken for a snap cap with unfortunate results. Coaches will sometimes use snap caps when testing trigger timing etc. but the SCTA does not recommend their use.

It is imperative that you remove and clean the chokes in your shotgun on a regular basis. A few tips are noted here:

Chokes should be cleaned each time your clean your gun.  

Always use the choke key supplied by the manufacturer. 

Never leave the chokes "tight" in the gun after use, and always remember to firm them up before using the gun again.
Remove all dirt, oil grease from the inside of the choke with a clean cloth.  

Particular attention should be paid to the threads of both choke and barrel, using the barrel thread cleaner usually supplied by the manufacturer.  

When refitting the chokes DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN

It is most important that the ejectors of your gun are working properly and regularly serviced. There is nothing more distracting while shooting in a competition and your ejector breaks or does not function properly. By applying a small amount of oil to the slide and ejector seat you will prolong the use.

Occasionally you should remove the ejector completely and clean the hidden part of the slide and properly clean and oil all the parts where wear could occur. 

Cleaning the gun properly also includes making sure that all other surfaces where wear can occur are properly cleaned. It is not common for the "Trigger Action" to require oil as this may attract dust or other particles from the firing mechanism. However all of the other parts where the stock is joined by the barrels should be carefully oiled or greased to prevent wear every time you open the gun. Lightly oil the fore-end and the knuckle. Placing a drop of oil on the "Cocking Pins" will ease the action and again help prevent wear.

After cleaning always wipe off any surplus oils etc. and if assembled it is advisable to store your gun "Barrels Down" to prevent any excess oils running onto the woodwork. Always ensure the woodwork is dry before storage but never leave your gun near a heat source to dry. This will damage the woodwork and in some cases may either tighten the wood or warp it.

Dependent on the finish of your stock you may wish to use a particular manufacturers’ preparation or cleaning method. Read the instructions carefully before proceeding.
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Shotguns and the Law

Age Restriction for Shotguns and Firearms

Under 14 years of age;

CAN hold a Shotgun Certificate .
CANNOT hold a Firearms Certificate
CANNOT purchase or hire a shotgun , or receive a gift of a shotgun .

Under 15 years of age;
CAN hold a Shotgun Certificate
CAN hold a Firearms Certificate
CAN receive a gift of a section 1 firearm from 14th Birthday (if in possession of relevant certificate)
CANNOT purchase or hire a shotgun until 17 years old, or receive a gift of a shotgun until 15 years old
CANNOT receive a gift of a shotgun until 15 years old
CANNOT have in his/her possession an assembled shotgun unless supervised by a Shotgun Certificate Holder over 21 years old, or have an uncovered / unsecured shotgun until 15th birthday.

Under 17 years of age;
CAN hold a Shotgun Certificate
CAN hold a Firearms Certificate
CAN if authorised by the relevant certificate, receive a gift of a shotgun
CANNOT Purchase or hire shotguns until 17th birthday
CANNOT Purchase or hire firearms until 17 years old.

A shotgun is a smooth bore gun (not being an air-weapon) which;
1. has a barrel not less than 60.96 cm (24 inches) in length and does not have any barrel with a bore that exceeds 5.08 cm (2 inches), in diameter AND

2. either has no magazine, or a non detachable magazine incapable of holding more than two cartridges AND

3. is not a revolver gun.

Other smooth bore guns may require a firearms certificate or even be prohibited weapons.
There are weapons other than conventional shotguns which also require a shotgun certificate, e.g. smooth bore muskets used for re-enactments.
Genuine antique shotguns, with flintlock, matchlock and percussion cap firing mechanisms, which are not kept to be fired, will not normally require to be certificated. If in doubt please contact your Firearms Licensing Office for advice.
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Safety in the home

1. When not in use, always keep your shotgun safe and secure, preferably locked away in your gun cabinet. It is preferable to store your cartridges, locked and secure, in a separate cabinet or compartment.

2. Never put a loaded shotgun away in your cabinet.

3. Always check that a shotgun is unloaded as soon as you handle it.

4. Always check that a shotgun is empty, before handing it to someone else, by offering it to them with the breech open.

5. Never load your shotgun indoors.

6. Never allow unauthorised persons access to your shotgun.

7. Never allow unsupervised or unsuitable persons, especially children, access to your shotgun.

8. Never leave a shotgun, even unloaded, unattended.

9. Never stand a shotgun in such a position that it can fall or be knocked over.
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Transportation safety
1. Always keep your shotgun in its case or cover whilst transporting it.

2. Never transport a loaded shotgun.

3. If staying away from home overnight, your shotgun should be stored, preferably with a Registered Firearms Dealer or in a secure cabinet of another suitable certificate holder.
4. If it is absolutely necessary to leave your shotgun in a vehicle, it must be stored out of sight, preferably in the locked boot. Consider taking a small part of the weapon, such as the fore-end, with you and always ensure that you lock the vehicle securely.

5. If this is to be a regular habit, consider having a lockable metal storage case welded inside the vehicle's boot.
Remember, leaving your shotgun in the care of a hotel or guest house patron, even in their safe, may expose them to being in unlawful possession of a shotgun, unless they are also certificate holders.

When applying for the grant of a shotgun or firearm certificate it may be best to do nothing in relation to security. Different areas within the UK may give varying suggestions for the security of your shotgun.
Your local constabulary Firearms Department, will contact you, after all the necessary enquiries have been completed, in order to make a mutually convenient appointment to visit you at your home address.
Part of the reason for the visit is to assess your domestic security and, maybe, give advice on what improvements will be necessary to allow you to keep weapons at home.

The Firearms Acts are not specific regarding security of shotguns except to state that the weapons must be kept safe and secure at all times so as to prevent unauthorised access, as far as is reasonably practical.
However, before granting you a certificate, the Police require to be satisfied that you can store your shotgun safely. It therefore follows that the issuer of the certificate must set the standards to be met, within the limitations of the Acts.
Home Office guidance is that all shotguns and firearms should be kept in bona-fide gun cabinets. That is, cabinets which are purpose built for the keeping of shotguns and firearms. The cabinets must be located within the confines of the house and not stored in a garage or outbuilding. They should be bolted to a solid brick wall and out of sight of casual callers. Ammunition should be stored separately and securely, away from guns.
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Buying and Selling

The matter of buying, selling or transferring shotguns to someone else is a very straightforward and easy procedure. Yet surprisingly, many certificate holders, unwittingly, fall foul of the law in this respect.
When you first acquire your shotgun certificate please sign it immediately in the appropriate space. Obviously, at this stage, there will be no shotguns shown on it, so how do you go about acquiring a shotgun?
There are various ways to acquire shotguns. These include buying one from another certificate holder or Registered Firearms Dealer.

If you look on the back of your shotgun certificate, you will see "Table 2". This table that must be completed by the person selling/transferring the gun to you.
Similarly, if you sell or transfer one of your shotguns to another certificate holder, you must enter the details of that weapon, in Table 2, on the back of the recipient's certificate. You do not enter details of the transfer on your own certificate. A good thing to remember is the only time you write on your own certificate is when you sign it.

If you acquire a shotgun from a Registered Firearms Dealer, he will enter the details of the weapon into Table 2, on the back of your certificate.
If you sell or dispose of a shotgun to a Registered Firearms Dealer, he will enter the transaction in his register. There is no writing for you to do, other than: in all cases of acquiring or disposing of a shotgun, you must inform the police authority that issued your certificate. The final handover of the weapon must be done in person. It is no longer legal to acquire shotguns by mail order.

As a shotgun certificate holder it is also possible for you to borrow another certificate holder's or dealer's shotgun. However, if the shotgun is to be in your possession for more than 72 hours , the person lending you the weapon must enter the details in Table 2, stating the appropriate reason in column B.

The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 requires you to notify the Chief Officer of the Police Constabulary who issued your certificate within seven days if you :
transfer a shotgun to any other person including selling it, hiring it out, lending it for more than 72 hours, or

1 making a gift of it; or

2 purchase or acquire a shotgun; or

3 deactivate a shotgun or have it deactivated by someone else; or

4 destroy a shotgun; or

5 lose a shotgun; or

6 have one stolen.

Section 33 (3) of The Firearms Amendment Act 1997 requires that such notification shall:
. contain a description of the firearm in question, (giving its identification number if any); and
b . state the nature of the transaction and the name and address of the other party;
and any such notice shall be sent by registered post or the recorded delivery service.

These requirements apply even if the matter happened outside Great Britain. It is an offence not to notify.

The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 revised the criteria set out in Section 28 of the 1968 Act for the grant and renewal of a shotgun certificate, so as to allow the Police more discretion to make enquiries into applications. It is important to note how the criteria differ from those in respect of applications for Section 1 weapons. No certificate shall be granted or renewed if the Police:

1 have reason to believe that the applicant is prohibited by the Act from possessing a shotgun; OR

2 are satisfied that the applicant does not have a good reason for possessing, purchasing or acquiring a shotgun.

However, the Act does not require the applicant to make out a good case for being granted a shotgun certificate, but extends the Chief Police Officer's grounds for refusing one.
Each and every application will be judged on its own merit, but the usual reasons for requiring a shotgun include the following:
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Clay Target Shooting
The SCTA strongly suggests that it is always best to join a reputable club first, before applying for your shotgun certificate. You will find most Clubs and Associations helpful and very keen to assist. You can, not only get expert advice and assistance to help you make the right choices in your chosen sport, but gain valuable experience as well. However, non-certificate holders can only shoot at artificial targets, with clubs approved by the local Constabulary, on specific days allowed by their Section 11(6) permit.
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Vermin control
Unlike a firearm certificate, a shotgun certificate does not include any specific conditions as to where you are allowed to shoot. However "Land-use", as it is called when shooting vermin, should only be indulged over farmland or other similar large areas. The permission of the land owner is essential.

Shotgun Certificates
Shotgun certificates normally last for five years, the exception being when the holder voluntarily chooses to surrender it when applying for the grant of a firearm certificate in order to obtain a coterminous shotgun certificate.

If your shotgun certificate runs its full term, then about 6-8 weeks before its expiry date, you should receive a notice of renewal, complete with application form.

The onus of responsibility for renewal of your certificate, rests with you . The fact that the local Constabulary did not remind you, or that the paperwork got lost in the post, is not an acceptable excuse for failing to renew on time.
If you have not received a renewal notice within the four weeks prior to your current certificate's expiry date, you should contact your local Firearms Team, or obtain a renewal form from your local police station.

Should your current certificate expire before you apply for a renewal, you may be committing the serious offence of being in possession of unlicensed weapons . You may also have to apply for a "grant", at extra cost, instead of a renewal. If you find yourself in this position you should contact your Firearms Office immediately for advice.
Depending on circumstances, if you submit your application in good time, you should receive your new certificate before your old one expires.

Your renewed certificate will show all the shotguns you currently possess in Table 1 on the front; and include those you acquired during the lifetime of the old certificate (and still possess), which were entered in Table 2 on the back.

You are also advised to carry your Shotgun Certificate with you when in possession of your gun. This proves that any shotgun in your possession is a legally held weapon.

If you have any unanswered questions regarding the legal use and ownership of shotguns please contact the Administrator of the Scottish Clay Target Association Ltd . All contact information is available on this site.

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