The National Shooting Centre (NSC) is set in 1000 acres of upland moor at Wester Jawcraig, Falkirk, offering shooting enthusiasts everything they need to learn or perfect their chosen sport. With multiple clay shooting layouts, clubhouse café and facilities, gun and cartridge sales (including their exclusive ‘Jawdroppers’), and a forthcoming shop, everything is taken care of by owners, the McCaig family, in order to let you concentrate on producing your best shot.

One of the ground’s regular clay shooters hit the headlines in April this year with a landmark achievement in clay shooting, David McMath, a 21-year-old originally from Castle Douglas, won the gold medal in the men’s double trap at the Commonwealth Games, held at Australia’s Gold Coast.

He said: “I have been using the facility (NSC) to train since early 2017.”

This was David’s debut at the games and Scotland’s first-ever individual gold medal in the men’s double trap, a discipline he has been shooting for less than three years.

David’s interest in shooting started in 2011, some of his family went shooting and his dad’s friends shot Down the Line (DTL), so he joined them one day at his local clay ground.

He went on to shoot DTL for four years before changing disciplines in 2015 to shoot Double Trap. David said: “There were more opportunities to shoot, travel and take part in competitions.” He took a year away from his degree course to focus on his shooting and qualified for the gold coast in December 2017.

By January 2018 he was shooting on average three or four times a week, typically 400 targets per day and felt confident about his shooting performance. “A few years ago I worked with a sports psychologist, he said if you feel prepared in your mind, you feel confident.

“The NSC has the widest array of facilities available anywhere in Scotland with every shooting discipline catered for. I trained exclusively at the NSC in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games as it was the only ground that could consistency offer training facilities to me and that could open when I needed,” said David, who lives in Glasgow.

“The clubhouse at NSC has recently undergone a renovation and the comfy seats and large log burner made the long days in the snow much more pleasant.”

David’s practice scores were consistently high, and meant he could easily make the finals: “I felt capable and confident about my ability to shoot.” Preparation is key to performing at your best, and David had his warm-up routines which included working on focus, vision, and reaction times, “you should get your heart rate up, it is really important as it helps with your shooting”.

On the day of the final at the commonwealth games he went into the competition feeling calm and prepared, with his concentration on what he had to do and ‘focused on getting there’. On winning the gold medal, he said: “It was a surreal moment winning the gold medal, and for a couple of days I didn't really grasped what I’d done,”

If you are interested in getting involved in competition shooting, he advises, “Get involved in Olympic disciplines, there are opportunities available to shoot for your country and they make you technically competent.”

The NSC is an impressive ground, it is well signposted from the main road and easy to find, and the scenery is spectacular with views stretching for many miles, and the wildlife is aplenty with frequent sightings of roe deer and birds of prey.

When I visited it was a hot, sunny day in May, the first thing I heard when I got out of the car was a cuckoo. The ground reopened last year after a massive revamp, with Scottish Clay Shot supremo Stewart Cumming as shoot ground manager. Stewart frequents the leader boards of the many clay shoots, some recent wins include FITASC Home International High gun 2016, FITASC Home international Captains Cup winner 2017, North Area Sporting champion 2018, and South Area FITASC champion 2018.

“We want to be all things, for all shooters,” said Stewart, “we have 10 DTL ranges, eight skeet layouts, three olympic rrap layouts, a Compak Sporting layout, 13 sporting stands and another six on the way. We also offer simulated game.”

The NSC is also a National and International competition venue, and have held European Championships, Scottish Championships, British opens, three home internationals, a GB Team selection shoot and several Commonwealth team selection shoots. “During the European DTL championship, we had 400 entries over each of the four days and were stocking up the traps with 40,000 clays each night.”

David said: “Whether you shoot an Olympic discipline to a high level or are a recreational game shooter there is something available for you and certainly the facilities are available to enhance your shooting.”

Shotgun coaching is important if you want to start or improve your shooting, otherwise you may be shooting with a gun that doesn’t fit you and repeating the same mistakes over and over again. David said: “I think coaching is vital, not enough shooters seek help. A competitive runner or footballer has a coach so why not a shooter. It makes sense to get advice from experience. Stewart is a great asset to the ground as he is one of the best shooting coaches in the country. Anyone looking to improve, from beginners to expert, would benefit from Stewart’s expertise.

"I would like to thank NSC, Stewart and the McCaig family for their continued support to my shooting and the opportunity to train at the fantastic facilities." 

David has changed shooting disciplines from double trap to Olympic skeet, and resumes studying civil engineering at Strathclyde University in September this year and is looking for sponsorship.

The ground is open from Tuesday to Sunday, and on Thursday evenings during the lighter months you can shoot up to 8pm. The NSC is less than 40 minutes from Glasgow and an hour from Edinburgh. Shooters of all levels and corporate groups are warmly welcomed.