The Royal Berkshire Shooting School is run by down-to-earth countrymen who enjoy what they do and pride themselves on providing a great service
If you haven’t heard of the Royal Berkshire Shooting School then you have probably been living on Mars. The school, founded in 1991, has become synonymous with excellent service, innovative layouts and high profile charity events that have attracted stars of music, television and even royalty. Big names such as Sunseeker, Aston Martin and Range Rover continue to sponsor and support the events.
Since starting its first charity event 25 years ago for the Douglas Bader Foundation that saw two Spitfires flying the length of the school’s grounds, £23 million has been raised for various charities. The school was set up by Dylan Williams in 1991 and sold in 2010. However, Dylan remains as Managing Director of the school accompanied by his dedicated team, many of whom have been with the school for 20 years. Set in a valley close to Pangbourne, around 20,000 shooters a year visit the school, but such is its design that on a busy day the shooters are often hidden in the wooded flanks that surround the valley.
Dylan originally came from mid-Wales where his father Evan Williams was an agricultural advisor who ran the agricultural college in Newtown. Dylan has fond memories of his childhood spent with Evan who described the ducks one night as “coming in like wine bottles” when on one of his wildfowling jaunts.
Dylan said “I was wealthier than a lottery winner with the childhood I had, a couple of rabbits, a pigeon and a partridge was often the bag which was all eaten by the family, I learned fieldcraft and conservation as well from my father. I went into agriculture after school but I recall my father sending me a press clipping with the words ‘a fool or a millionaire’ written on it, my father had added ‘I don’t think you are the former and I don’t expect to be the latter’. I felt that my father was warning me away from pursuing a farming career! I then went and studied at college near Guildford during which time I went to work for The Countryside Commission for Scotland just below Durness and it was the only time I have ever felt guilty about getting paid. It was heaven. Ilived in a garden shed and cooked over a Primus stove and these early experiences sealed my love with Scotland. In the early 1980s I worked for the then Game Conservancy at Milton Keynes and it was here I started meeting people who were to influence my career. Running a course with the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust teaching youngsters about ecology and land management followed.
“I was by now 24 years old and another note from father arrived advising that a lecturer’s job at Sparsholt College was on offer. I applied, got the job, and ultimately founded the Game and Wildlife Management Course, which covered everything from the law, deer management, tree planting and PR to name but a few and all these years later the course is still running, something of which I am very proud.
“The opportunity to open the RBSS came in 1991 and, in a nutshell, I am delighted about how it has turned out. Throughout the time at RBSS we have tried to constantly innovate and I think it would be fair to say I am a bit obsessive about it. I have managed to maintain my drive and have even more plans for the school including building underground rifle ranges and a series of lakes simulating different water conditions where fly-casting tuition can be taught. The plan is to be able to teach ecology, conservation, bone fishing and spey casting on moving water powered by pumps and solar power. ‘In essence, we are unashamedly endeavouring to offer the best that our sport can provide and we welcome all with open arms. We are down-to-earth countrymen who enjoy what we do and pride ourselves on great service. Come here to shoot or just drop in for a cup of coffee if you are passing by.”
Shooting Club Checklist
Clay disciplines: Sporting, grouse butt, six high towers up to 120ft that will throw clays to 160ft. Pre-booking only for competitions and individuals accompanied by an instructor. The RBSS also runs a highly regarded Sporting Agency.
Cost: Lessons cost £99, £52 for 100 Sporting clays including instructor.
Acreage: 89 acres.
Gun storage: This is available – check for details.
Parking: Grass and gravel parking for around 100 vehicles.
Registered shoots: Three-day 100 bird registered Sporting event in August each year.
Membership: The school runs the Calibre Club that is £30 per month and includes a free lesson straight away, 20 per cent discount on clays, clothing, further lessons and cartridges and a host of other benefits including clothing and club partners.
Instructors and coaches: There are seven full time dedicated instructors and more can be called upon.
Traps: There are 52 brand new LaPorte traps and approximately 180 manual traps.
Stands: Although there are over 40 built stands, the school is unique in being able to utilise all of the grounds giving infinite opportunities when accompanied by an instructor.
Catering: Famous Chef Mike Robinson and his team take care of the catering and food is available every day.
Charity events: The school runs 20 to 22 charity events per year, both on and off-site.
Simulated gameshooting: The school’s Really Wild Clay Company runs around 70 days a year on various estates located through out the uK.
Accessories: The school’s shop stocks a wide range of clothing and accessories with prices to suit everyone. Situated yards away across the coutryard is the RBSS Gunroom run by acclaimed stalker Simon Freedman. The shop is a fully stocked gunshop selling shotguns, rifles, stalking equipment, ammunition and so forth-all to suit different budgets.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8am to 5.30pm – winter, 8am until dusk.
Disabled access: Yes
Ammunition: Fibre and plastic wads, standard clay and gameloads allowed.
The RBSS has many options available for shooters so for full details visit Royal Berkshire Shooting School or telephone 01491 672900.