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Shooting proving hard to sell as season looms

With rising costs across the board hitting us all, are some Guns starting to question the value that a driven shooting day represents? Felix Petit reports back

shooting a shotgun

While the top and bottom end of the market still appear to be selling, it's the middle area that is proving sticky

It will come as no surprise, given the pinch we’re all feeling, that shooting for the forthcoming season is proving hard to sell. Digby Taylor, of GunsOnPegs, told Shooting Times that they are seeing more discounted days than ever before. And, for the first time, they’ve had prestigious estates such as Floors Castle approaching them to advertise days, whereas in the past it was impossible for ordinary Guns (albeit ordinary Guns with deep pockets) to get a look in at such places. Days there sold year in, year out to return clients. ST has also noticed that Cambrian Birds in Wales, which has some of the big-name shoots such as Dyfi Falls, has just reduced the price it is selling days at, per bird, by 10%.

Interestingly, Nick Mason at Davis & Bowring, a sporting agent and industry veteran, reassured ST that they are still seeing days right at the top end of the market selling. He said there was a brisk trade in the smallest days too, but they are finding that the middle of the market is proving sticky. People, according to Mr Mason, are wondering whether they should turn their 300-bird day into a 150-bird day. The trouble, though, is that those days hardly cover costs for estates.

Digby Taylor doesn’t think that those who usually buy days no longer have the money. “We are talking about people,” he told ST, “who are really very wealthy but they are starting to question whether shooting represents good value given the price hike.

“Picture a dinner party scenario,” he said, “where keen Shots are sitting round and chatting about the reality that birds have gone from £30 a go to £70 a go within a decade.”

It’s a bit of a bleak picture in terms of a direction of travel, and Mr Taylor’s sentiment was echoed by Sam Higgins of EJ Churchill, who thinks that this year has been tricky but that next year could be harder still. He noted an American team of his that paid £48,000 for two days last year are paying £62,000 for the same two days this year. Eventually, he thinks, people do sit back and wonder.