Aimed at driven shooters, the first ever London Wing Shooting Fair will hit the capital on 23-24 March 2018. Mark Layton talks to co-founder John Kelley about what we can expect
The inaugural London Wing Shooting Fair, to be held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, is just days away.
Co-founder John Kelley was inspired to create the show following the success of the London Fly Fishing Fair, which he launched at the same venue last year. He hopes that holding the fair in the capital will help to appeal to shooters worldwide, as well as one previously unrealised audience — London-based Guns.
Many shooters live or work in London and John says the show is staying open all through the evening on Friday to cater to those who might not have time to make it to a shooting show outside the city on a work day. Explaining the focus on wing shooting, he says: “We make the distinction of wing shooting as being the shooter who specifically goes for pheasant, grouse or partridge.”
But what sets this new show apart is that it is a family affair. The London Wing Shooting Fair and the Fly Fishing Fair were co-founded by John and his son Fergus; both countrymen who want to share their love of the sport.
“I’ve been a passionate shooter since I was 15,” says John. “I went with my uncle, who gave me his Holland & Holland .410. Every season I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie and the joy of being in the country with friends.”
John found great joy in “being able to share this wonderful sport” with Fergus, who has worked as a fishing guide in Argentina and is now working full-time on the shows.
“It is so wonderful to be able to work with your son on a personal interest that we both adore,” says John. “Our exhibitions are personal. It is not a big corporation, it is us; it is Fergus and me.” John hopes their shared passion for fieldsports will shine through and inspire visitors to try both shooting and fishing.
Enthusiasts of both sports will certainly be catered for at the show. Entry to the London Wing Shooting Fair includes entry to the London Fly Fishing Fair, held in the opposite hall, giving visitors the best of both.
Women in shooting
On the shooting side, the show will feature industry experts leading a number of discussions, debates and workshops. Shooting Times’s own pigeon shooting guru Tom Payne will be among them, as will Mark Osborne of William Powell, who will talk about grouse shooting; gunsmith Carl Langton, who will explain the importance of servicing your gun; and Claire Sadler, who will focus on women in shooting. In addition, BASC will be bringing its popular ST-2 shooting simulator and, of course, there will be a wide range of new clothing and kit from major brands.
There will be plenty to please shooters who also love fishing in the other hall, with just as wide a range of talks and exhibitors. “We have a huge lake right down the middle of the hall to give demonstrations on flyfishing,” enthuses John, who is clearly very passionate about both sports.
This might be a new fair, but it has already generated a lot of interest. John says that ticket sales are strong and he is confident that the show will break the 5,000-visitor mark.
John wants the fair to expand into new areas in the future: “We might even include a gundog event next time round, because it would be quite harmonious to the whole outdoor environment.”
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London Wing Shooting Fair – when and where
LOCATION: Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 0QH
DATE: 23-24 March 2018
OPENING TIMES: Friday, 9am to 9pm; Saturday, 9am to 6pm
TICKETS: You can buy tickets on the door for £20. Ticket price covers entry for both days and also includes free entry to the London Fly Fishing Fair.