The Royal Berk­shire Shoot­ing School’s new sim­u­lated game com­pe­ti­tion prom­ises to chal­lenge and de­light even the most die-hard of game shoot­ers, writes Emily Dam­ment

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

While many die-hard game shoot­ers will take the odd ten­ta­tive trip to the clay club to keep their eye in, it is an al­to­gether rarer sight to see them shoot­ing com­pet­i­tively – dis­re­gard­ing the un­spo­ken race to fill the bag, which must be con­ducted with plenty of smiles and cries of “good shot, sir!” and never di­rectly ac­knowl­edged.

Le­git­i­mate clay com­pe­ti­tions, it would seem, do not overly in­ter­est them, which in some ways is a shame as it would be a fun and ben­e­fi­cial way to spend non-game-shoot­ing week­ends and the sum­mer months.

Any­way, that at­ti­tude might be about to change, be­cause the Royal Berk­shire Shoot­ing School (RBSS) has launched a sim­u­lated game shoot­ing com­pe­ti­tion which is as close to the real thing as you could ever hope to get, with some ex­ceed­ingly ‘gamey’ prizes up for grabs.

The prizes

The aptly named ‘Royal Flush’ com­pe­ti­tion is be­ing hailed as the new king of sim­u­lated game. A glit­ter­ing line-up of spon­sors have come on board, and the prize fund takes the form of five ex­cep­tional shoot­ing hol­i­days worth up to £30,000 which the win­ner can at­tend with seven of their best shoot­ing bud­dies. But, there is a catch – even if you win the com­pe­ti­tion, only a score of 92 or higher will war­rant drag­ging the suit­case out of the closet and dust­ing off the plus fours. The high­est scorer on each stand does, how­ever, get to pocket £1,000 cash, re­gard­less of the score.

The hol­i­days on of­fer are: a day’s grouse shoot­ing at Brans­dale in Yorkshire; a day’s driven pheas­ant at Lyne­ham in Devon; a Span­ish partridge day in Madrid or Mal­lorca; a driven partridge day at Prescombe in Wilt­shire; and a week’s mixed sport at No­var in In­ver­ness-shire – all in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion. Now, if that isn’t enough to get even the most clay-scep­tic shooter’s pulse rac­ing, then a de­fib­ril­la­tor might be the next best bet.

The for­mat

Un­like your av­er­age Sport­ing clay com­pe­ti­tion, where you would ex­pect up­wards of 12 stands, there are just five to con­quer at the Royal Flush, each with 20 birds, giv­ing a pos­si­ble to­tal of 100. And trust us, con­quer­ing these imag­i­na­tive cre­ations takes some do­ing.

Named to em­u­late the five prizes and spon­sors, the stands in­clude the Purdey Grouse, the Sun­seeker Tower, the Chase Dis­tillery Partridge,

the Boo­dles La Man­cha and the AON Walk Up. I was lucky enough to be in­vited along to the launch of the Royal Flush com­pe­ti­tion, where I got to have a crack at the stands along­side 50 oth­ers from the shoot­ing com­mu­nity and press.

The course

If you’ve never vis­ited the RBSS, let me first say that the ground it­self is spec­tac­u­lar, with var­ied to­pog­ra­phy stretch­ing to the fur­thest tree on the hori­zon, an im­mac­u­late club­house manned by friendly faces, and im­pec­ca­bly main­tained stands and walk­ways. It was men­tioned in the in­tro­duc­tory speeches that the sun al­ways seems to shine there, and though I’m sure those work­ing the grounds through­out the win­ter months raised their eyebrows, the state­ment cer­tainly rang true for the launch.

Each stand was more than a lit­tle bit spe­cial, but the most in­no­va­tive and ex­cit­ing to my mind was the AON Walk Up. As the name sug­gests, this calls on the shooter to walk down a nar­row track in the woods, along which wooden sleep­ers are placed at var­i­ous in­ter­vals. As you reach each sleeper, traps are ac­ti­vated and clays spring out from all di­rec­tions – you re­ally needed to keep your wits about you for this one! It was bril­liant fun and took some real skills to master. Heads up rough shoot­ers – this is the stand to try!

The Sun­seeker Tower pre­sented some scream­ingly high ‘pheas­ants’ in well-thought-out se­quences, which I must ad­mit were be­yond my lim­ited ca­pa­bil­i­ties, but they cer­tainly seemed to be giv­ing the more able shots among us some­thing to get their teeth into.

Span­ish partridge on the Boo­dles La Man­cha and English partridge on the Chase Dis­tillery stand re­ally got the pulse rac­ing, with some se­ri­ously speedy tar­gets that re­quired to­tal con­cen­tra­tion to see, let alone shoot, and a covey which re­quired some trick-shooter skills to fully oblit­er­ate.

Once again, while my own way­ward at­tempts failed to connect, the more ex­pe­ri­enced (and/or prac­tised) shots among us were hav­ing a whale of a time try­ing to get on top of these tough tar­gets. They struck what seemed to be the per­fect bal­ance of pre­sent­ing a real chal­lenge, even to the best shots, with­out be­ing so tough as to be la­belled un­shootable and sulked over.

Grouse were well catered for on the Purdey Grouse stand, with a fast-paced and ex­cit­ing se­quence com­ing at you as you waited in the butt; a four-bird covey to fin­ish was the cherry on this par­tic­u­lar cake, and the one per­son I saw mag­i­cally connect with all four got a wellde­served cheer from those watch­ing. Which brings me onto an­other point – I found the Royal Flush stands al­most as ex­cit­ing to watch as they were to shoot, and from the whoops and cheers that could be heard as we made our way around the ground, I wasn’t the only one.

Be it the lat­est night-shoot­ing gad­get or a new su­per­food diet, it’s not very of­ten that the hype about the lat­est ‘thing’ is ac­tu­ally jus­ti­fied – this com­pe­ti­tion, these stands, are the ex­cep­tion. I can’t rate the Royal Flush highly enough; it is su­perb in ev­ery way. Go and try it for your­self… if you think you’re up to the chal­lenge! The gen­eral con­sen­sus among us mere mor­tals was that if

any­one scores a 92 on these stands, they de­serve to go on the hol­i­day of a life­time!

‘The partridge re­ally got the pulse rac­ing, with some se­ri­ously speedy tar­gets that re­quired to­tal con­cen­tra­tion to see, let alone shoot’

The high ‘pheas­ants’ re­ally were high

The grounds at RBSS are a great set­ting for this new com­pe­ti­tion

The AON Walk Up was in­no­va­tive and ex­cit­ing

A cham­pagne re­cep­tion af­ter the shoot­ing al­ways goes down a treat

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