Whet your appetite for some fast-paced fun
If, like me, you are already having withdrawal symptoms after the end of the game season, it might be worth considering a simulated day on the clays. For a fraction of the cost of the real thing, you get a realistic representation of a big driven day with the added benefit that, as it’s predominantly a spring and summer activity, the weather is usually rather better.
I joined a team on one such sim day, run on the outskirts of the beautiful city of Bath by the Bath Shooting Company (BSC). Priced at £145, it’s not the cheapest but it’s also nowhere near the most expensive (there are some days being advertised for up to £300 or more per person which for some might be a little on the high side).
We arrive at a rather pleasant pub for a bacon roll breakfast. The group of Guns is a mixed bag from differing backgrounds as is often the case on sim days and it looks as if we are in for a good day. The organisers Matthew Cole and James Bryan ensure we all get a thorough safety briefing before heading off to the first of the morning’s drives.
Walking out, it’s clear that the lads have struck gold with their venue; not only does it offer a truly stunning vista across the surrounding countryside, but it also looks ideally suited to the job at hand, with steep valleys offering perfect terrain for presenting driven clays.
The first drive is a gentle introduction to the day with plenty of fairly straightforward targets appearing over a stand of trees. Everyone was soon breaking them consistently and the BSC team added in plenty of variety with some longer range clays for those who wanted a challenge.
Halfway through the drive, Matthew Cole, who was running the Gun line, blew the whistle to put a halt on proceedings and allow the teams of shooters to swap over. With one person on each peg shooting and the other ‘stuffing’ for them, it soon became obvious just how high a rate of fire is possible if the motivation is there!
With the copious quantities of spent cartridges picked up, it was time to head to the next drive. This saw the Guns stood in the bottom of a bowl with the two Promatic Huntsman game trailers throwing clays from their six traps from opposite ends of the line. This created some fantastic combinations of clays, with pairs crossing each other over the line, while some extreme range crossers made for a genuinely challenging simulation of a top-quality partridge.
The weather on the day wasn’t hot, but the gun barrels certainly were. It is imperative that all who attend wear gloves to avoid burning fingers and hands. Although the Guerini that was used on the day isn’t equipped with a metal fore-end catch situated where the hand would normally sit, the heat coming through the wood was still so much that it would have been pretty much unbearable without gloves. Any touch on the barrels would have undoubtedly caused a burn when the action was at its most frantic.
The rate of fire is high, so one shooter has the gun while the other stuffs, before swapping over