Posted on October 05 2018
Shooting and Shows: JLB part 2
Well here we are again! It’s time for a kinda part 2 to my first article. Since it's great reception I’ve been urged to write a second half. In this half I’ll write about my shooting experiences and what shows I attend and what I can recommend for the entry level country bumpkin. So, I hope that you find this helpful to your country ramblings. Country life is divided up into different sections...and each bumpkin will usually live within one main one if not multiple. Shooting is my main country vocation, Lifestyle and equestrian just compliment this.
Shooting can be quite daunting for someone who hasn’t shot before...it’s that whole ‘ooo handling firearms’ feeling, you have that overwhelming feeling of am I going to end up shooting someone or even myself in the foot. Well don’t worry that’s normal. Clay Pigeon shooting is usually the gateway for people to start Shooting, the gun of choice for this is a shotgun. The shotgun is a beautiful instrument, with a wide range of bore gauges it suits all. 20 or 12 bore are what you would usually start on if you're entering at late teens or adult ages but if you're younger you will shooting a 28 ga or 410 ga (410s are very very fun to shoot, it’s like a pea shooter with a little extra umph). Whatever the gauge, the feeling is still the same. If you're feeling like you want to have a go at shooting I would recommend not starting with game shooting. It’s a lot of expense, especially if you won’t hit anything and some people aren't keen on shooting animals. So, Clay pigeon is the starting point, most clay pigeon grounds offer lessons, this means you can get 1-2-1 Tuition without having to have a license and own a gun; it’s a great way to see if you like it or not. If you are like me, the rush you get when you're shooting will stay with you and spur you to take shooting further. Once you've had a few lessons and you decide you want to take it further the next step is getting your license. Without it you won’t be able to shoot anything unless accompanied by an instructor or a license holder and you certainly won’t be able to purchase any firearms.
The license process is long and laborious - it really does take a long time...but not to fret it will eventually come in! If you have questions on the application process the BASC (British Association of Shooting and Conservation) have some fantastic advice on obtaining a license. Once you have got your license you can now buy a shotgun! Woo! My advice to you is to get an entry level shotgun, don't spend more than £1000 as you can get some really decent guns with in this price range...the reason I say don't go off and buy a purdey or something expensive is that you might find that you lose interest within a few months or only go every so often. So, until you're sure that this will be a life time passion don't go blowing your wad on an expensive gun. Ammo, what about ammo I hear you say...well cartridges can be bought at your local ground should you only use them for clay pigeon and to be honest if you’re going shooting at a clay ground every now and again I would recommend it but if you're planning on shooting frequently you can obtain cartridges from gun shops and cartridge manufacturers! So now you’re all set to shoot it’s up to you to decide if you want to take it further and go onto game shooting!
We’ve talked about shooting now it’s time to take you through the country shows, fairs and events. Over the course of the year many many country events take place across the UK usually from May to November, but some do exist outside those months. There are a few main country events which are the must attends of the year... A personal favourite for me is The GameFair, which is the UKs largest festival of countryside. It has vast shopping and lifestyle stalls, the world famous Gunmakers row, which showcases the finest firearms manufacturers from across the world, famous shooting line and country demonstrations which span all aspects of country life. The second must go to the Burghley Horse Trials which is held at Burghley House in Stamford. This international horse trials see some of the finest examples of equestrianism across 4 days. It again holds another selection of high-end country life - if you want an excuse to drink a bottle of champagne this is the place to do it; at the Pol Roger bar. Usually held on the last weekend of August you still manage to catch the beautiful summer weather!
Now I can talk about individual events until the cows come home as in my line of work I attend at least 20 of them a year ranging from the Game Fair to highland shows and everything in between. I shall spare you that, but if you’re wondering what to go to, then the first place to look is to your local county fair. These range from the Great Yorkshire Show to very small shows...but they’re always a great place to go to support your local farmers and products... They also give you a good glimpse into what country activities take place in your county and nearby to you! Then there are regional shows and events for example the Midlands game fair which showcase stalls from a little bit further afield than what is in most counties. Horse trials are different all together as they take place at a specific location and you’ll almost be able to find one that is on your doorstep. Sometimes I find going to smaller shows quite refreshing, as nice as the larger shows are. They are vast in every sense of the word they happen on such a large scale the amount of people and geographic size - the smaller shows are a lot more intimate, you don’t feel like you’re trekking for hours to get to the other end of the site. So, if you can’t get to one of the big events then don’t worry, as there will almost certainly be a smaller event or horse trials in your location.