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High on the list of the multitude of joys of clay shooting is it’s exemplary Safety Record. The non-shooting world may be surprised to learn that Clay Shooting rates as one of the Worlds safest sports.
First of all, clay shooting is so safe because it simply has to be! Thankfully what is so reassuring that the governing clay shooting bodies in all countries insist on a rigid regime of Safe Gun Handling Rules being instilled in all beginners.
So we’ve established that clay shooting is very safe and the clay targets definitely do not shoot back! Don’t be fooled, self-protection is a serious necessity. Mainly, protection for the eyes from a stray or ricocheted pellet and the potential danger from falling/flying sharp jagged clay target fragments.
All clay shooters should wear shooting safety glasses whenever they are involved in their sport. That of course includes periods spent spectating as the hazards are ever present. It is now mandatory for every one present at registered clay shooting events to wear safety glasses. The safety rules and care taken by clay shooting organisers should ensure that no one can ever be struck by a stray pellet. However 100% certainty can never be achieved - there is always the possibility of freak circumstances e.g. a stray pellet ricocheting from an icy branch!
To that end Britain's most popular suppliers of shooting self protection equipment Napier Of London test every batch of their wide variety of shooting safety glasses by subjecting them to a blast of a No. 8, 12 bore shot at 15 yards! I find that very reassuring.
The other body part requiring constant protection during clay shooting are of course the ears. Just like the eyes, we have only one pair and they are irreplaceable! There is no doubt that the high frequency noise along side the shock wave from a fired shotgun cartridge will cause long term damage to unprotected human ears.
There are a wide variety of plugs that fit into the ears, some of which are disposable. These will protect the eardrums from blast; however by far the best long term hearing protection is provided by ear muffs that cover the ears completely. The most comfortable are the electronic battery operated design that allow low frequency through, but shut out high frequency. I have used Napier electronic ear muffs for many years and find them very comfortable, effective and reliable. Napier has also developed a very effective set of passive ear plugs on a head band - the P9 which has proven very popular.
Whilst protecting the eyes and ears, it is sound practice to get in the habit of wearing a hat when ever attending clay shooting. The baseball type with a stiff peak is the most popular and so easily available at any field sports or sports retailers. In addition to protecting the head from clay fragments, you will have added protection from the hot sun or cold rain.