This is the first of a two-part review – where we’ll be looking at products from the John King Coaching range of DVD’s and Books.

With over 50 years of experience, and 30,000 pupils under his belt – John King is the ideal person to put together a DVD like ‘Clay Shooting from Scratch’.  Filmed at the beautiful Barbury Shooting School – the DVD takes you through 6 lessons from the basics of clay shooting – through to shooting at pairs.

The main difference between this and other DVD’s I’ve watched, is that John is actually filmed giving a lesson to two complete novices – Zoe Salmon and Iwan Thomas MBE. This makes a massive difference, in many of the other ‘from scratch’ DVD’s – it is quite often just the camera and the instructor, which in my view gives a false impression – I’m pretty sure that John can nail every target – but using novices means that the viewer can see progression through the lessons. From misses to hits, from singles to pairs and from gauge to gauge in guns – John takes you through a realistic set of lessons – at a good pace.

The DVD kicks off with an excellent safety briefing – always important, and showing the right level of equipment for a beginner along with clear instruction on safe gun handling. There is also a quick chapter on eye dominance, which has some good tips.

Then into the first lesson – where John guides the pupils through ‘the method’, the CPSA teaching system that underpins all of the lessons in the book. He kits out Zoe Salmon with a 28g, and Iwan Thomas with a 20g and walks them through the method as they attempt to break a nice easy right to left crosser.  He walks through deciding the kill point, setting the feet up correctly, defining the pick-up point and then visualising the ‘kill picture’, where an appropriate amount of lead is decided. Only after a few dry runs does he encourage the pupil to call ‘pull’ and then try their new-found skills – ‘pushing’ their way to the kill picture. After a few attempts – both of them hit the target and one of the highlights of the DVD occurs for me, Johns level of joy and enthusiasm as they hit their first birds as absolutely infectious – and really comes out of the screen – I loved his praise of the pupils and if that’s he does things all the time it must be a really encouraging part of your journey into Clay Shooting.

The whole of the first lesson is focused on this right to left crosser – and at regular points there are really clear animations and diagrams to show what John is describing – from the shooters point of view  – I like these as they help explain things from your view – rather than over the shoulder of the teacher.

Subsequent lessons take Zoe and Iwan through a going away target, a rabbit (which has one of the funniest scenes in the whole DVD as Iwan Thomas really struggles with the left to right bunny), a left to right crosser (to teach the importance of lead),  a left to right pair (which really tests their distance vs lead skills)  and then finally a simultaneous pair of driven targets.  It’s really interesting to see how our pupils progress through the lessons – all the time under John’s expert guidance and with his now trademark enthusiasm!

In between the shooting lessons there are short interludes where John takes Zoe and Iwan to the pattern plate, and they explore equipment and clothing that could be needed if you are taking up shooting – there is a great chapter on positive mental attitude – and a short chapter on gun mounting.  This is a really comprehensive run-through of a first day of learning about shooting.

Although the DVD is labelled ‘from scratch’ there is much here to be used by the more experienced shot – an hour or two going back to basics, even for someone who has been coached in ‘the method’ before can never go amiss – and the chapters on rabbits and driven birds are a superb grounding for anyone that find these their ‘bogey’ targets. I’d certainly appreciate an hour-long DVD on driven birds – always my personal challenge (I know – keep the gun moving and blot out the target!)

There is an excellent menu and chapter selection system which allows the more experienced shot to skip to the lessons they may want to concentrate on – the filming is good quality (some screen shots below), and using some pupils who are clearly easy at being on camera makes a massive difference – there is no self consciousness about our pupils who get on with learning and not worrying about looking like duffers!

I would highly recommend this DVD – this amount of coaching from an expert like John would be super expensive, so £25 for the DVD is great value for either a novice or intermediate level shot. There is a bargain bundle available on Johns site which allows you to get both the DVD and his Clay Shooting : For beginners and enthusiasts book – which ShootClay will be reviewing in the next few days.

Don’t just take my word for it – head over to Johns website, where there is a short clip from the DVD.