A selection of niche game shooting services - including hotels, caterers and chauffeur companies - that add something extra special to your shoot day.
Felin Newydd House
Probably the most sought-after of all game shooting services, there’s nothing like time away with friends, especially when they’re shooting friends, at a private residence. No sportsman worth their salt can deny they wouldn’t mind playing lord of the manor, and the extensive facilities at Felin Newydd House, a Georgian house between Hay-on-Wye and the Brecon Beacons, allow them to do just that. Available for private hire since 2008, the nine-bedroom seven-bathroom manor house was bought in the 1950s by current owners the Evans Bevans to act as a shooting lodge to entertain friends and business associates. Modern-day visitors who expect the best even from the most historic of buildings are spoilt for choice – there’s a billiard room, library and conservatory, as well as an expansive garden running down to the River Triffrwd.
Shooting parties are able to choose between a fully-catered or self-catering option, and Mr Wood the butler, head chef Rod Lewis and in-house service staff are at your service whether you’re there for a two nights or a whole week. There is plenty for non-shooting guests to do both at the house and in nearby Hay-on-Wye, which is only 15 minutes away. Guns with children who are interested in energy-zapping activities will be spoilt rotten too.
Shotgun storage: Yes
Gundogs: Allowed by prior arrangement but not in the house
Cost: Between £160 and £205 per gun per night depending on catering option (minimum of eight guns)
Shoots nearby include: Tregoyd, Llwyn Madoc and Glanusk
Something similar elsewhere: Middleton Lodge (North Yorkshire); Guthrie Castle (Angus) and Three Acres (Exmoor)
Yorkshire Chauffeur Company
Founded in 2013 by former policeman Howard Smelt-Webb and former soldier Darren Thompson, Yorkshire Chauffeur Company (YCC) offers a bespoke service to individuals and groups shooting around the county and further afield. With a fully licensed fleet that includes six Range Rover Sports and a staff that includes two former drivers for HM The Queen, passengers can be assured of arriving at their sporting destination in style, whether hiring vehicles for an hour or several days. YCC’s connections mean a transfer from a railway station, airport or country hideaway to the shoot is as simple as firing up the engine. With prior arrangement drivers will ferry guns between pegs and even act as their loader. YCC is as flexible as their guests want them to be – though given the backgrounds of the top brass it might be courteous to wipe those wellies before climbing aboard. Gundogs and alcohol are welcome on some vehicles. Despite being less than two years old, YCC’s reputation is growing and their services stretch beyond shooting – they are due to play a big role in the start of this year’s Tour de France and are worth keeping in mind if you are looking to show your area off to clients within the shooting season.
Associated shoots include: Ripley Castle and Swinton Park
Associated hotels include: Feversham Arms (Helmsley) and Talbot Hotel (Malton)
Price: From £45 per hour
Something similar elsewhere: Derby Executive Chauffeurs (Derbyshire) and Robert Armstrong Chauffeurs (London)
Catering by Hannah Bingley
Thirty-one-year-old Hannah Bingley first crossed Shooting Gazette’s bows around five years ago when she ran Scrumptious, which provided, amongst other things, catering for shooting parties in the east Midlands. Following the sale of Scrumptious just over a year ago, her move to Burnham Market in Norfolk – partly inspired by a desire to broaden her career portfolio – has meant she is now concentrating on offering canapés, lunches and dinner parties, with shoot lunches still at the heart of her approach to private and corporate clients, at home, work or on holiday. Warming, hearty and flavoursome are words she uses to describe her shoot lunches – braised game with smoked bacon, chestnuts and hedgerow jelly with rosemary dumplings, and her own sticky toffee and ginger pudding recipe have won plaudits – and whatever the customer wants they can have.
In a bid to keep prices sensible and, most importantly, to support and connect with the locality, Hannah’s ingredients tend to come from farm shops/local food and drink producers; but Norfolk isn’t the only county able to enjoy her dishes. Hannah can still be found on shoots and holiday destinations across East Anglia and her old stomping ground in Lincolnshire. Hannah and her loyal staff are used to catering for up to 3,000 people, and while your shoot party is never going to be that large, her reputation for food comes with a word of advice: existing clients are said to book their entire season’s catering with around six weeks to go before it starts, so don’t hang about if you’re looking to inject a little creativity into your shoot food.
Areas catered for: East Midlands and eastern England.
Something similar elsewhere: The Creative Catering Co. (Hampshire); Clever Cooks (Rutland) and Elizabeth White Catering (Somerset)
Eye Candy Loaders
There is always room for a touch of glamour on any shoot, whether it be a gun’s attire, how you arrive (helicopter always wins) and even a personal peg companion. Enter the girls from Eye Candy Loaders, a company founded by Rebecca Keen in 2009 as an extension of her popular Eye Candy Caddies venture. Six highly-trained girls from a variety of entertainment backgrounds make up the team, which can be deployed on the peg or in a hospitality capacity for around eight hours each shoot day. Loading aside, the girl’s duties include welcoming guests, serving refreshments and even clearing away cartridges after a drive’s end. Whether double gunning in Scotland, rough shooting in Lincolnshire or partridge shooting in Spain, these girls will go anywhere – many are employed by Eye Candy Caddies so if you’re a golfer too you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Areas catered for: UK and mainland Europe (farther afield on request)
Cost: From £200 per loader (loaders are hired as a team)
Something similar elsewhere: Shoot Day Services (Worcestershire)