The awards ceremony was held earlier in the year at E. J. Churchill, after a clayshooting session and lunch. Here we announce who won what and why.
BEST CLOTHING / EQUIPMENT SUPPLIER
Winner: Arrow Laser Shot Ltd
A company slogan that promises the buyer, “Be a better shot all it takes is 10 minutes a day”, is either foolish or backed by total confidence. In this case it’s confidence and our judges gave Arrow Laser Shot their support because, used properly, this bit of kit can seriously improve your shooting. If you didn’t already know, the Laser Shot checks the accuracy of gun fit and improves your gun mount and swing all through a battery-powered device firing a laser beam down the barrel when the trigger is pulled.
It’s not an entirely new concept but the judges were hugely impressed by the way the makers had moved things on and marketed themselves along the way. Other systems might be more complicated but this takes minutes to set up, use and understand. First-year turnover was £60,000, but this year it’s expected to reach almost £500,000. Dealers around the world can’t wait to get their hands on the product to distribute to their own customers. This represents a great British shooting success story.
Arrow Laser Shot Ltd, Unit 5 Huddington Glade, Yateley, Hampshire GU46 6FG
BEST SHOOTING GROUND
Winner: Royal Berkshire Shooting School
How do you go about choosing a club or ground to win this category? The panel was swamped with entries each one well worthy of winning the accolade for 2007.In the end the judges settled on a winner, but there were another half-dozen or so up-and-coming grounds that pushed it right to the wire. So which one won? It was the Royal Berkshire Shooting School.
The panel agreed this really is a super facility for a super sport. Royal Berkshire sets the standard clay pigeon shooting and gameshooting deserves.
The school has also put a favourable light on the sport through its matchless fund-raising efforts for charity, and it has brought large numbers of new people into shooting thanks to its corporate activities. Finally, it has a complement of happy, professional staff. Quite simply, the Royal Berkshire team “make your day?every day”.
RBSS Ltd, Pangbourne, Berkshire RG8 8SD. Tel 07000 410410 or visit www.rbss.co.uk or email email@example.com
BEST CLOTHING PRODUCT
Winner: Le Chameau Chablis Shooting Coat
Our judges gave top marks to the Chablis jacket from the famous French footwear company, Le Chameau, for coming up with a beginners’ shooting jacket that will almost definitely be bought by more experienced sportsmen.
The only basic thing the panel could find with the garment was its price £120. In terms of specification, this waterproof, breathable, windproof cotton jacket has just about everything a shooter could wish for, and the judges’ interest in it has obviously been matched by that of the buyer because demand has been such that, within a short time of its launch, its distributors were ordering more to keep up with the demand. In fact, they reordered twice by mid-season. “The Chablis’ success has been unprecedented,” said Sarah Elvin, for LLC. “It has been our ‘must have’ new jacket of the year.”
LLC Ltd, Bear House, Concorde Way, Fareham, Hampshire PO15 5RL. Tel (01489) 557600
BEST GAMEKEEPING PRODUCT
Winner: Patrick Pinker ? Bristol Egg Washer
Take a quick look at the picture below and you’d think the apparatus had dropped off part of a ship’s boiler. You’d be wrong. What you’re looking at is a simple but ingenious piece of kit called the Bristol Egg Washer, designed and developed by Patrick Pinker. Healthy gamebird rearing demands rigorous hygiene standards from egg to poult to finished adult. Patrick’s washer looks after the initial stages by ensuring every newly hatched chick gets the best start in life.
A column of air forced through the washer moves the eggs in a figure of eight motion to remove soiling. Add Patrick’s recommended disinfectant to the wash and you ensure all eggs are totally bacteria free. Furthermore, none is hard-boiled, either!
Patrick Pinker Game Farm Ltd, Game Farm, Latterbridge, Iron Acton, Bristol BS37 9TY. Visit www.patrickpinker.com
BEST FOOTWEAR PRODUCT
Winner: Musto ? Ladies Bainbridge boot
There’s an old saying that goes something along the lines of, “Look after your feet, and your feet will look after you.” In shooting terms, this means that if your footwear can’t keep you warm, dry and able to walk comfortably all day, then your enjoyment in the field will be handicapped or, in most cases, ruined. Good as many modern fabrics are, it’s interesting to note that the good old leather from a cow’s back is still one of the best materials around for footwear.
In Musto’s case, it has married leather outers with Gore-tex waterproof, breathable linings in a knee-length boot that’s both comfortable and practical to wear and also in huge demand.
The men’s version has sold extremely well but the judges were amazed by the sales figures for the Ladies’ Bainbridge version. Clearly these have not all been bought with the intention of being worn in the field, but a lot have which speaks volumes about women coming into shooting.
Musto has moved mountains to improve the cut, fit and style of attire for ladies that wield a gun, and these boots, the judges felt, were spot on.
Musto Ltd, Christy Way, Laindon, Essex SS15 6TR. Tel (01268) 491555 or visit www.musto.com
Winner: Sportarm of Dorchester
The judging panel clearly had a far from easy job in coming up with a shortlist of candidates for this award, so there was only one thing for it they had to get in their cars and do some cold calling of their own to decide which one was best. Several hundred miles later, they had made their minds up and for an amazing third year running the prize went to Sportarm of Dorchester.
The selection of guns and accessories on offer in the shop was staggering, so was the user-friendly way in which it was displayed and also the relaxed atmosphere in which you could shop and browse. The final decider, though, proved to be the staff in the Prices Street shop: their friendly approach, knowledgeable service, expertise and subject knowledge settled the matter once and for all.
Sportarm of Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1TW. Tel (01305) 268001
BEST CARTRIDGES: FIELD
Winner: Hull Cartridge Company ? High Pheasant
There is hardly a shell in the Hull Cartridge Company’s extensive range that hasn’t seen an improvement in performance, which is saying something for a cartridge loader that has prided itself on quality all these years. In fact, it was Hull’s high-performance High Pheasant load that got the judges’ vote this year.
What impressed most was that the company had recognised more and more gameshoots now demand that fibre-wadded cartridges are fired over their land. Yet shooters still want plastic wad performance on high birds. Hull decided that the way to do this was to use new primers and specially selected powders that give ultra-fast velocities yet keep pressures and recoil down to really comfortable levels.
Hull Cartridge Company, Bontoft Avenue, National Avenue, Hull, East Yorks HU6 4HZ. Tel (01482) 342756 or visit www.hullcartridge.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BEST CARTRIDGES: CLAY
Winner: Lyalvale Express ? World Cup
Lead prices on the world market have gone through the roof and this is reflected in the price we’re paying these days for cartridges. Because of this there was an initial temptation to judge the entries in this category on price. Instead the panel chose to look at product development, performance and sales. Applying this simple equation to the proceedings whittled the shortlist down to three but even then one still stood out as a worthy winner Lyalvale Express with its World Cup fibre wad.
This British loader had set out to meet demand for a high-performance load carrying a fibre wad that was ballistically identical to the formidable World Cup cartridge with plastic wad. We will never know how stiff a challenge that proved to be for the product development boys at Lyalvale, but they managed it tthe fibre wad has gone down a storm and sales are up. What more can you say?
Lyalvale Express Ltd., Express Estate, Fisherwick, Staffs WS13 8XA. Tel (01543) 434400
BEST CARTRIDGES: RIFLE
Winner: Ruag Ammotec UK ? Norma V-Max
Ruag Ammotec UK’s commitment to product development across a wide range of guns, rifles, ammunition and shooting accessories has been clearly obvious over the past few years. And the work done formerly by Stuart Crane and now continued by Phil Unwin in sourcing quality products is starting to bear fruit. When it came to choosing ammunition for fox and vermin control as well as target shooting, Ruag UK picked the Swedish-made Norma V-Max range, a cartridge that sports Hornady bullets, flat trajectories, low recoil and great out-of-the-box accuracy.
The judges agreed that the best of the range both in terms of performance and sales was the .243 version firing a 58g bullet. In this configuration the winning round offered more killing energy and speed than the slightly lighter, but more popular, .22/250 varmint calibre.
Ruag Ammotec UK Ltd, Upton Cross, Liskeard, Cornwall PL 14 5BQ. Tel (01579) 362319
BEST NEW HUNTING AIR RIFLE
Winner: BSA ? Lightning XL
Amazing, isn’t it, just how far air rifle design and technology has come in the past 10 or 15 years? Today, some of the air rifles on sale look as though they’ve been plucked straight from a sci-fi set, not a woodland ride, meadow side or farm barn. Yet for all that, they’re more efficient and accurate than many that have gone before. There were several entries for this category, so it was quite amazing to find that, when the final two were eventually shortlisted for the award, both came from the same maker: the long-established British company, BSA. So, would it be the BSA Ultra or BSA Lightning XL Tactical that came out on top?
The panel had to draw on its own experience of both rifles, reviewers’ comments, reader recommendations, testimonials from gamekeepers and, of course, price to settle the squabble. The decision went the way of the Lightning XL, a beautifully compact bit of kit that’s sound moderated, fully powered, has a precise two-stage trigger, fitted sound moderator and sells for just £277. It’s available as a single-shot rifle or in multishot version. It can be handled easily by youngsters and is a useful bit of kit where pest control is concerned.
Distributor: BSA Guns (Uk) Ltd, Armoury Road, Small Heath, Birmingham B11 2PP. Tel (0121) 772 8543 or email email@example.com
BEST NEW RIFLE
Winner: Savage .17
Rimfire .17 rifles haven’t exactly revolutionised small pest and rabbit control in recent years, but they’ve come within a gnat’s whisker of
doing so. Super-flat trajectory from this fast little bullet, plus fewer ricochets, has won over many previous fans of the good old .22 rimfire. Growing sales of .17 rifles clearly suggest that more .22 owners while not actually ditching their ricochet-prone old calibre are adding the newer one to their armoury.
From this you can guess that the judges chose a .17 rifle as this year’s winner from a large entry. Their vote went in favour of the American-made Savage .17 thumbhole rifle, a very accurate varmint rifle that sells for £505. The stock and ventilated fore-end are eye-catching sales features but it’s the rifle’s adjustable trigger set AccuTrigger that helped set this one apart. A shooter can adjust it down to 21⁄2lb without having to send it off to a gunsmith for alteration. It’s a system the judges feel will make many other budget-price rifle makers sit up and take notice.
Distributor: Garlands Ltd, Edingale, Tamworth, Staffs B79 9JR. Tel (01827) 383300
BEST NEW GUN
Winner: Rottweil .410
Phew! What a job the judges had settling on a winner in this hard-fought category: it bristled with entries from importers and makers near and far and that, they were pleased to note, included Britain. Nominations arrived for game guns, competition guns and specialist fowling pieces of every description, quality and price imaginable.
The judges settled on Rottweil’s new range of smallbore over-and-under guns and in particular the .410 version as this year’s best gun.
Considering its price (less than £1,000) the panel felt the Rottweil delivered exceptional value for money in terms of quality, finish, balance and handling.
Not just that, the company had identified a growing interest and demand for smallbore guns and had purposefully set out to satisfy the market with a range designed with British sportsmen in mind. Subsequent sales have proved the strategy to be absolutely right.
Distributors: Ruag Ammotec UK Ltd, Liskeard, Cornwall. Tel (01579) 362319, visit www.ruag.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BEST NEW OPTIC PRODUCT
winner: Hawke Endurance 8×42
When it comes to choosing a pair of binoculars or a rifle scope it pays to buy the best you can afford. The judging panel got their hands on optics to die for in this category scopes and binoculars that were perfectly designed for the job intended of them and which produced brilliant clarity in the worst possible conditions. If you have £600-plus to spend, then do it you won’t be disappointed. Not everyone can afford or justify such an expense, however, which is why the judges set their sights a little lower. Some of the cheaper entries in this category were just that cheap. You would have to be totally broke and desperate to be attracted by the sales talk and brochures.
The performance of the Hawke Endurance 8×42 binocular, however, grabbed their attention. The retail price of £149.95 is certainly “cheap” compared with those top-flight products everyone wants and drools over, but in spite of that the optical quality on these Hawkes impressed the panel. So too did the overall design of the rubber-armoured lightweight binoculars. The multi-coated lenses are not only quick to focus but they are also waterproof, shockproof and fogproof.
Furthermore, they come with a 10-year peace-of-mind warranty. In other words, if they let you down before the sell by date, send them back!
Deben Group Industries Ltd, Avocet House, Wilford Bridge Road, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 1RB. Tel 0870 4422600 or visit www.hawkeoptics.com
BEST OF THE BEST 2007
Winner: Sportarm of Dorchester
The best of the best award goes to a company that continues to push boundaries and identify ways of expanding business. Sportarm is focused on the task and delivers results accordingly. This year’s award was decided on votes cast by readers of Sporting Gun, Shooting Times and Shooting Gazette.