Have you always wanted to learn to shoot? Or do you want to improve your technique with the help of the best instructors? Here are the top places to do it in the UK.
Bisley & Braidwood, Surrey & Scotland
The famous Bisley has two shooting grounds to its name in the UK. There is the shooting ground in 3,000 acres of Surrey heath and woodland just outside London, and the Braidwood ground just south of Edinburgh.
There are two different shooting grounds on the Surrey campus; Cottesloe Heath caters for individuals or groups with an instructor and Long Siberia offers automated pay & play for experienced shots. Cottesloe Heath benefits from the 1865 Victorian Clubhouse, and one of the highest clay towers in the country, not to mention the truly exhilarating grouse layout with a line of well-established butts. And Long Siberia offers the experienced shot 23 automated stands to take themselves round without an instructor.
Meanwhile, Bisley at Braidwood is located on a stunning estate overlooking the Eildon Hills in the Scottish Borders just south of Edinburgh. The shooting ground hosts several Scottish Championships in both sporting and skeet.
Treetops Shooting Ground, Gwent
Founded in 1989 on land that once formed part of the Tredegar family’s sporting estate, Treetops offers sporting targets in a wooded environment that game shots will love – so who wouldn’t want to have a crack at clays driven off its high tower? If you’ve been invited stalking, this is the perfect place to get your eye-in or test a new piece of equipment. Though humble in size, game shots will gain a lot from pulling the trigger at Treetops.
Ian Coley Sporting, Gloucestershire
One of the best known names in the sport of shooting, Ian Coley started out as a gamekeeper and he now has his own shooting empire. A brilliant shot in his own right, having first competed for Great Britain in 1971, he is even more renowned for coaching the GB team six times in the Olympics. And his crowning glory came in 2012 when, after coaching Peter Wilson to the gold medal in double trap at the London Olympics, he was awarded an MBE. His achievements were also recognised with the lifetime achievement award at the 2013 Shooting Industry Awards.
Ian established his gunsmiths business in 1970 and 40 years on he moved the shop from its premises in Cheltenham to its current 50-acre site near Andoversford. Following significant investment the shooting ground now provides shooters with the complete shooting package, including lodge, gun shop and sporting agency offices. The combination of expertise and laid-back West Country charm makes this shooting ground well worth a visit.
Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds, Ruislip
If you like and respect all the traditions of the wonderful sport of game shooting then you are going to love the splendidly appointed facilities of the Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds in north west London. The suitably tree-lined entrance leads to a smart modern lodge with 60 acres of sweeping grassland and woods behind it. And here you will find sporting shooting stands to satisfy your every need. From high pheasants to driven partridge, with some thrilling grouse butts thrown in for good measure, there is something for all types of game shooter here. And if you are a rifle shooter then you are in safe hands with some of the best people in the business. Meanwhile, director of operations Steve Denny provides a wise head, steering this impressive shooting ground calmly into the future. This place has history, style and class; it is Holland & Holland after all…
Park Lodge Shooting School, East Yorkshire
Park Lodge had only just opened its doors when Shooting Gazette first visited in 2012 and the experience lives with us still. Set in 44 acres of open land near Cowick between the M62 and M18, the quality of its clubhouse alone should be the envy of shooting grounds nationwide. We called it “a cross between an ultra-modern barn conversion and a smart conference centre” containing a shop that “wouldn’t be out of place in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds”. And that still stands three years down the line. Owned by Tom and Sharon Bayston, the school offers testing sporting targets for those seeking to brush up before the season’s start, but is equally welcoming to guns of all abilities.
You’ll have astronomic standards if you’re not impressed by Park Lodge, but the team will try its hardest to match your expectations regardless.
Bywell Shooting Ground, Northumberland
A well-respected outpost for shooters near Morpeth in Northumberland, Bywell Shooting Ground is a great place to stop if you are travelling north or south on the A1. But even if you are not heading this way, people in the know travel from miles and miles to enjoy the offering in the extremely well stocked gunroom here. The range of new and pre-owned shotguns caters for game shooters with particular tastes and Bywell has a reputation for delivering exactly what demanding customers want. On top of that the gun-fitting, repairs and servicing here are also highly recommended. Most of the shooting layouts are dominated by the trap disciplines which are brilliant for working on your concentration. They are also useful for ensuring you get the right gunfit.
West London Shooting School, Northolt
West London boasts an impressive lodge and extremely well appointed shooting grounds, offering a wide variety of sporting targets. Percy Stanbury was a legendary instructor here and his shooting style provides the inspiration for the shooting ground logo. West London has a new legendary instructor though, in the form of Alan Rose. Supposedly retired Alan can be found here most days, although that’s hardly surprising as he lives next door!
With excellent catering facilities and a network of simulated game shooting days there is a multi-faceted offering here. And with its proximity to central London, peaceful ambience, expert instructors and suitably grand clubhouse, West London continues to offer game shooters a home from home in the big city!
Lady’s Wood, Gloucestershire
This shooting ground was established in 1981 by the late Michael Pinker. It is set amid the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside with easy access from both the M4 and M5, not far from Bristol and Bath. The shooting stands are set in 65 acres of natural woodland with an attractive and welcoming Cotswold stone lodge setting the perfect tone for a game shooter’s clay shooting ground.
The immaculately well-kept shooting grounds with a large variety of sporting traps can simulate anything from a bolting rabbit to a long distance pheasant thrown from the 120ft high tower, which is something the shooting school is particularly well known for.And a little quirk is the high chance of bumping into a peacock on your way round the grounds.
West Kent Shooting Ground, Kent
Recent investment at this established shooting ground has seen a new clubhouse extension and two new stands which mean in the space of four years the shooting capacity has increased from nine to 15 areas which can be shot at the same time. Significant investment in new traps has also meant a consistently high quality of targets.
Young shots and ladies only events are a big focus as Gillian Lynch explained: “The number of ladies we have visiting is definitely on the up – the feedback we get is they enjoy coming to us as the girls in the clubhouse make them so welcome, and the grounds are well maintained with no mud! We have also noted an increase in couples shooting and because of this we have created a “couples” membership. In the past 12 months we have employed three new instructors and three new clubhouse staff to join our team as business continues to grow.”
Auchterhouse Country Sports, Dundee
This shooting ground was shortlisted in the Shooting Industry Awards in 2010 and for good reason. It is run by the Christie Family, and son Drew Christie represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and won a silver medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014. They host a number of clay shooting competitions in skeet and some trap disciplines but also have a testing compact layout and 12 sporting stands. The newly installed Promatic Card System means visitors have free rein to shoot what they please. With plenty of other corporate activities, a restaurant and country clothing store this shooting ground is well respected in the local area and the family-run atmosphere really sets it apart.
West Midlands Shooting Ground, Shropshire
The grounds have been established since 1934 and are situated just 13 miles north of Telford in the heart of Shropshire. The shooting ground has a network of well-maintained paths leading to 80 plus stands, boasting over 200 clay pigeon traps. And what those numbers translate to is one of the finest sporting shooting grounds in the UK.
The shooting ground is privately owned by Tom and Debra Jones, and they have a clear understanding of their customers’ needs as well as a reputation for delivering the goods.
The Scandinavian log cabin, built in 1984, was the first of its kind on a shooting ground in Britain. Having served the business well for 30 years, it has recently been extended to cope with the growing business. The facilities now include three function rooms, a gun shop, open café and restaurant. This shooting ground considered to one of the very finest of its kind.
Barbury Shooting School, Wiltshire
Nestled into the foot of the Marlborough Downs just a few minutes from Junction 15 of the M4, this picturesque shooting ground is well run by Huw Stephens and his team. It’s open every day of the week and, despite its proximity to one of the UK’s busiest motorways, it is loaded with rural charm. Huw is one of many excellent instructors on hand, and Barbury has featured regularly in the Shooting Industry Awards, winning Best Shooting Ground in 2010.
With a full range of simulated days to offer in the surrounding area, as well as all the shooting at the ground, game shooters are at the forefront of the offering here. And they are guaranteed a warm welcome from the experienced and friendly team.
EJ Churchill, Buckinghamshire
The EJ Churchill empire includes the shooting ground on the edge of High Wycombe, a sporting agency, a well supplied gun shop, the eponymous gunmaking marque and access to the West Wycombe estate. The estate is the family home of the Dashwood family and Sir Edward Dashwood is one of the finest shots in the land. Therefore it’s no surprise to discover there is a thriving energy for the sport running through the entire EJ Churchill business. Managing director Rob Fenwick is one of the best-known faces in the industry and the enthusiasm he and Sir Edward share for the sport is reflected in the attitude of the whole team here. You will not have a bad day at this shooting ground, which won the Shooting Industry Award Best Shooting Ground category in 2014.
Oxford Gun Company, Oxfordshire
The Florent family is at the beating heart of this energetic shooting ground not far from the M40 as it carves through the Oxfordshire countryside. Doug, Shirley and son David work hard to ensure the shooting ground continues to deliver the goods to existing customers while going the extra mile to encourage newcomers into the sport. The Schools Challenge and the University Championships are just two examples of the great work they do to ensure the future of shooting. In fact the Schools Challenge has just won CPSA Development Initiative of the Year.
Royal Berkshire Shooting School, Berkshire
This high-end shooting ground has long been established as a conduit between the City of London and the world of shooting, but it is a lot more than that. Dylan Williams and his long-serving team of experts in their field have almost cornered the high-end charity shoot market, delivering millions of pounds into a wide spectrum of worthy causes. But there’s more to it than that. The recent Stratstone Challenge competition is a good example; with the nation’s top shooters descending to compete for the ultimate prize – a long wheel base Range Rover Autobiography. In the event Mark Winser shot a mind-boggling 25ex25 on the high tower to win this £148,000 prize.
It’s an incredible story which serves to illustrate the imagination, diligence and commitment to excellence which have all ensured the Royal Berks remains one of the foremost shooting grounds in the UK. And that’s not to mention the sporting agency, the simulated shooting and Really Wild Clothing.