The annual event comes round again
People have all sorts of reasons to go to the Game Fair. Perhaps it’s where you catch up with old friends over a pint or where you try out before buying some new kit you’ve read about.
Maybe you make a beeline for the clay line to satisfy your competitive spirit or watch some debates or a cookery class.
So what’s of particular interest to shooters at the Game Fair 2019 , which fittingly opens with a 61-gun salute to get its 61st year started?
New this year is a purpose-built night-vision tunnel and viewing deck. There have been some extraordinary advances in optical technology over the past year or so, and you’ll be able to learn more about them and experience the latest night-vision kit for yourself, with the opportunity to compare some of the biggest brands in the market.
There is also a specially designed platform where you can check out famous names in optics and test rifle scopes, binoculars and thermal-imaging equipment.
The Shooting Line
One of the most popular destinations is the 500m-long Subaru Shooting Line, which offers challenges for shooters of all disciplines and abilities. A variety of layouts has been designed by multiple world Sporting clay-shooting champion George Digweed, who will be there all day on the Friday. There’s an opportunity to take on a 12-bird pool shoot for a £5 entry fee (cartridges not included) or spend £10 to enter a 25-bird sport-trap challenge and compete to win daily cash prizes.
There’s also the Game Fair Challenge in the main arena, which made its popular debut last year. Clay shooters have the chance to win a daily Top Gun cash prize. The event is a 40-target English Sporting clay contest on a George Digweed-devised layout. Entry at the registration tent will cost £20, or £15 for re-entry. Shooters must use their own gun and cartridges and the overall winner will collect a prize on Sunday afternoon.
Another opportunity to watch and learn from top Shots comes in the Champion of Champions competition, run by the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA), again taking place in the main arena. The champion shooter from each county is invited to test themselves in a thrilling event that aims to determine who is England’s best.
A further CPSA initiative is the Colts Challenge, a competition that gives the best under-16 shooters in the business the chance to impress under pressure. Watch the top 10 English Sporting Colts in the country battling it out in the main arena.
Need to know
- The Game Fair 2019 takes place at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire from Friday, 26 to Sunday, 28 July.
- Early-bird tickets for the Game Fair 2019 are on sale now at www.thegamefair.org or by calling 0844 8 586759. On the gate, adult tickets cost £34 and child tickets £10 for one day. Accompanied children aged eight and under are free.
- Members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, Countryside Alliance, Country Land and Business Association and the Kennel Club are entitled to a promotional rate.
- All members of the BASC are entitled to complimentary entry on all three days — guest tickets can be bought at a discounted rate.
- Upgrade your ticket to include exclusive access to hospitality areas as well as luxury food and drinks.
- Advance premium parking costs £20 per day, while in-show parking can be bought in advance for £40 a day.
- Camping tickets, which do not include entry to the Game Fair, are available to book for three or five nights on 10m by 10m plots.
The Game Fair is also an excellent place to try shooting for the first time or hone your skills. The CPSA will be running four have-a-go stands on the clay lines. These cost £12 or £10 for under-16s, and include 10 minutes of expert instruction in clay shooting from a CPSA-qualified coach. If you’re a more experienced Shot, experts will offer tips to improve your technique.
Next to the Game Fair’s ranges, you’ll find experts from the BASC, with even more targets to try for. The experts will be offering advice, guidance and training, and you can find out more about the organisation’s work. Being a member of BASC also gets you complimentary entry to the Game Fair on all three days.
If you’re an airgunner or would like to be, a visit to the Airgun Zone is a must. Beginners can have a go under the guidance of experienced coaches or can pick up some handy shooting tips. A challenging airgun competition is also planned.
Shooting Times contributor Mat Manning says: “The have-a-go airgun stands at the Game Fair provide a great opportunity for new airgun shooters to try the sport under expert guidance. They also offer a rare chance to shoot a wide variety of different airguns, which is very helpful if you’re thinking about buying one.”
New for this year, Walton Lions Airgun Club from Birmingham will be setting up its own stand next to the ranges for visitors to find out more about the sport, the law surrounding airguns and the various Olympic disciplines, before having a go at some of them yourself. You can even tackle the latest solar-powered targets, which make the sport eco-friendly.
Finally, Gunmakers’ Row is the place where all shooters will want to spend some time. It features the best and newest products from British gunmakers and renowned international offerings. You’ll find all the premier shooting-related companies here, offering every accessory imaginable from knives to clothing. Have a catch-up and relax with friends by sharing a beer in the Gunmakers’ Pub, too.
Shooting isn’t without its controversies. Watch debates in the Carter Jonas Game Fair Theatre, including topics such as “Shouldn’t vegetarians actually be hunting?”, Natural England’s recent decision on general licences, grouse moor management, rewilding and Britain’s deer and salmon farming.
Also not to be missed
- Pick up culinary inspiration and game cookery advice from top chefs in the Game Fair Theatre
- The new Ginmakers’ Row
- A trip to the CIC team on the Rigby stand to have trophies measured
- Inspect Le Chameau’s dry-fire shooting simulator
- Watch the UK’s best dogs and handlers compete in the Home International
- Take your dog through the gundog scurries
- A trip to the Pugs and Drummers stand for all things ferreting
Finally, don’t forget to come along to stand number N1443 to say hello to the team at Shooting Times, Sporting Gun and Shooting Gazette. We have 1,000 copies of Shooting Times to give away and you’ll get a 40 per cent discount on each issue when you subscribe.