… to the real game sea­son! Un­til then, why not try a sim­u­lated game day? Don Brunt at­tends one at Atkin, Grant & Lang, and of­fers ad­vice to help you get the most out of th­ese fun events

Sporting Shooter - - June 2017 -

If you en­joy driven game shoot­ing then there’s lit­tle doubt that you will en­joy a sim­u­lated day; a huge amount of ‘birds’ to shoot, no over­age to worry about, and a price that’s just a frac­tion of what you would pay for a sim­i­lar sized day at the real thing. It’s also usu­ally ac­com­pa­nied by far bet­ter weather than you might ex­pect in the sea­son, so what’s not to like?

Sound ad­vice

Hav­ing es­tab­lished that there’s plenty of fun to be had, what can you do to en­sure you get the best out of your day on the peg? Chances are that you’ll fire far more car­tridges in a sin­gle day than you might be ac­cus­tomed to. Con­se­quently, don’t worry about tak­ing su­per fast 28g loads that can be­come un­com­fort­able on the shoul­der af­ter you’ve fired a few hun­dred of them in a short space of time. Twenty four or 21g shells are more than suf­fi­cient, per­form per­fectly well, and don’t leave you bruised and bat­tered (plus, they are a lit­tle cheaper to buy). The venue should tell you how many car­tridges you are likely to shoot, but if in any doubt take more than you think you will need, as it can be frus­trat­ing to run out.

If you are used to shoot­ing mostly in the game sea­son, don’t for­get that you would nor­mally be wear­ing sev­eral lay­ers of cloth­ing, whereas a sim day in July will prob­a­bly see you in lit­tle more than a shirt; bear that in mind if you are re­coil sen­si­tive. It can also show up is­sues with gun fit, so if your gun is too short in the stock when wear­ing jumpers and coats, it’s likely to be very short when in shirt­sleeves. Also bear in mind that bar­rels can get very hot with pro­longed use, and as such it’s sen­si­ble to take gloves with you to avoid singe­ing your fin­gers; this is an ab­so­lute must if you shoot a side-by-side. If you shoot a tra­di­tional double you might also want to in­vest in a slip-on bar­rel hand-guard. A hat and shoot­ing glasses are also highly rec­om­mended as it’s not in­con­ceiv­able that you may have clays or parts of bro­ken clays land­ing around you. Once the horn has blown and the drive is un­der­way it’s im­por­tant to keep your wits about you. You will

soon get an idea as to where the birds are be­ing fired from, so keep your eyes in those ar­eas but don’t stand too long in the ready po­si­tion as it can get tir­ing, es­pe­cially on a day when there will be so much shoot­ing. Birds may come five, six, seven or more at a time, so try and pick out the one you are go­ing to tackle and stay with it – don’t be tempted to change horses! At the same time, be aware, us­ing your pe­riph­eral vision, of the other clays com­ing over so that you can switch to an­other for your sec­ond bar­rel, or in the case of your neigh­bour ‘poach­ing’ your bird. Al­though some­thing of a ‘no no’ on a live quarry day, poach­ing is pos­i­tively en­cour­aged on sim­u­lated days, and it can gen­er­ate plenty of ban­ter be­tween friends.

Depend­ing on ter­rain and wind, you do need to be aware of where clays are fall­ing, and if they do end up stalling over the line don’t fol­low clays down as they start to drop, or you might end up scar­ing your neigh­bour!

Tech­niques to try

If you are fairly new to shoot­ing then it’s im­por­tant to en­sure your shoot­ing part­ner for the day is ex­pe­ri­enced enough to give you a few point­ers and keep you safe, or bet­ter still, it’s not a bad idea to ask the host if they can pro­vide you with an in­struc­tor.

A big day like this with sev­eral thou­sand tar­gets over the line can give you the opportunity to try out new tech­niques if you have the dis­ci­pline to keep do­ing it, but as our host Ju­lian said, “plenty of peo­ple come with good in­ten­tions, but more of­ten than not their new tech­niques go out the win­dow when the ac­tion is fast and furious.” As with most driven birds, swing-through is prob­a­bly the pre­ferred tech­nique, but with cross­ing and climb­ing birds you might want to try some pull-away shots to help es­tab­lish the line of the clay. ‘Chop­ping’ tar­gets off for a quick sec­ond bar­rel can also work well, and it in­volves sim­ply go­ing straight to a space in front of the clay with lit­tle or no di­rect con­tact be­tween muz­zles and tar­get. Don’t for­get that clays slow down in flight, so if shoot­ing out be­hind the line they will re­quire a lit­tle less lead; com­bine that with a fast mov­ing gun and a rushed shot to com­plete a left and right and the chances are that you may well be miss­ing in front if you don’t con­nect.

Shoot­ing quickly re­quires con­fi­dence, so don’t be afraid of tak­ing on tar­gets when they are well out in front of you, so long as your muz­zles aren’t point­ing too low over the trap line. This can help im­prove your in­stinc­tive shoot­ing abil­ity and start to build up a more nat­u­ral style. Of course, not every­one wants to melt their bar­rels and, if you pre­fer, you can take your time, pick out your bird and take a more grace­ful and mea­sured ap­proach. Which­ever way you choose to shoot, don’t be scared of miss­ing – it’s a fun day out so don’t take it too se­ri­ously. Re­mem­ber that

‘Which­ever way you choose to shoot a tar­get, don’t be afraid of miss­ing – it’s a fun day out; don’t take it too se­ri­ously’

‘Shoot­ing quickly re­quires con­fi­dence, so don’t be afraid of tak­ing on tar­gets when they are well out in front of you’

every­one else is too busy to be pay­ing any at­ten­tion as to how well or badly you are shoot­ing.

When it comes to load­ing for your shoot­ing part­ner, take care if it’s not some­thing you nor­mally do, and keep your fin­gers out of the way. It can be sen­si­ble to say ‘Go’ when both shells are in the gun, this way they can keep their eyes up on the birds and you can be con­fi­dent that they won’t try and close the gun when your fin­gers are still in harm’s way. If you and your shoot­ing part­ner are us­ing dif­fer­ent cal­i­bres – e.g. 12 and 20 – you MUST en­sure that the car­tridges re­main sep­a­rated at all times, and if load­ing from pock­ets you must clear them out when you swap over. The safest way is to load straight from a car­tridge bag with­out us­ing pock­ets at all. Also, re­mem­ber to be aware of your muz­zles when clos­ing the gun – make sure they aren’t go­ing to end up point­ing ei­ther at the trap­pers or the other Guns when the bar­rels and ac­tion meet.

Whether do­ing it sim­ply for fun, to keep your eye in through the sum­mer, or to warm up for the up­com­ing sea­son, there’s lit­tle doubt that a well run sim­u­lated day is a fan­tas­tic day out. If you haven’t tried it then you are miss­ing out.

Days like this are avail­able across the coun­try with prices to suit most pock­ets. Ex­pect to pay be­tween £140-£300 depend­ing on the size of the ‘bag’, the venue and the level of hos­pi­tal­ity.

It’s in­evitable that at some point two Guns will shoot at the same bird

AGL use tow­ers to add height to the birds

An ex­pe­ri­enced shoot­ing part­ner, or an in­struc­tor, can help you make the most of your day if you are rel­a­tively new to shoot­ing, es­pe­cially when faced with so many tar­gets.

Novice or ex­pe­ri­enced... you’ll go home smil­ing

Take care when load­ing if it’s not some­thing you’re used to do­ing

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