The best places to practise and get kitted out ahead of the forthcoming season. Compiled by Martin Puddifer.
Atkin, Grant & Lang Shooting Ground
Address: Windmill Road, Markyate, St. Albans, Herts, AL3 8LP
Profile: The shooting ground arm of the iconic gunmakers sits in 55 acres of ancient woodland and grass pastures. You’ll find 14 shooting stands offering every conceivable sporting target herein, not the least of which is the stone grouse butt from which guns can shoot the Coverhead Grouse sequence where six different traps will give you a high- octane flavour of life on the moor. As you walk around listen out for the tapping of craftsmen busy working on building new and rebuilding or refurbishing classic English shotguns.
Contact: 01582 849382 Website: agl-uk.com
Cottondale Shooting Ground
Address: America Farm, Fordon Lane, Staxton, N. Yorks, YO12 4TG
Profile: Aimed squarely at game shots and founded in 1989 by former GB clay shot Terry Harper, Cottondale is one of the most welcoming grounds you’re likely to find in Yorkshire. The Wolds topography is one of its strongest assets, and this wasn’t lost on Terry when he was working out where to place around 40 traps across the ground. High bird addicts should head straight for the tower that will send 150ft high targets over them. Suitable for experienced shots but especially those who are dipping their toes into shooting and want their first few trigger pulls to be made in an informal environment.
Contact: 01944 710313 Website: cdsgltd.co.uk
Lady’s Wood Shooting School
Address: Mapleridge Lane, Horton, Chipping Sodbury, S. Glous, BS37 6PW
Profile: If you can find a prettier school in the UK than this one, you’ve done well. It was established in 1981 by the late Michael Pinker but has now been under the watchful eye of its new management team for three years. The grounds are set in 55 acres of natural woodland, and have recently undergone a major investment, including a significant upgrade of the legendary 120ft high tower and five other towers, along with a complete refurbishment of its Cotswold stone lodge. Such is the depth of its services (Sportarm has just arrived) Lady’s Wood is just as much a place to shop and relax as it is to shoot.
Contact: 01454 294546 Website: ladyswood.co.uk
Barbury Shooting School
Address: Wroughton, Swindon, Wilts, SN4 0QH
Profile: Set minutes from the M4 amongst the rolling Marlborough Downs, Barbury has long been on Shooting Gazette’s radar, not least when we’ve been part of the Shooting Industry Awards‘ judging panel over the years. Huw Stephens took over at Barbury almost a decade ago and thousands of novice shooters have had their first taste of the sport on his school during his tenure. Barbury is currently in the middle of a busy simulated day schedule, with events taking place both at the school and the nearby estates. Popular with lady guns and young shots, Barbury’s stock is only going one way under Mr Stephens.
Contact: 07872 666154 Website: barburyshootingschool.com
Bisley Shooting Group
Address: Bisley Shooting Ground, Bisley Camp, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, GU24 0NY/ Bisley at Braidwood, Braidwood, Midlem, Scottish Borders, TD7 4QD
Profile: This iconic name in shooting will take you to the heart of the field from the moment you leave the Surrey ground’s Victorian colonial clubhouse and into the woods and heath land. Shooting Gazette has had the pleasure of visiting this family-owned ground for simulated days and lessons, and shooting manager John Heagren’s team has always left us feeling more confident than when we arrived. John designed the course, with the emphasis on the natural environment, making for an authentic game shooting experience. Those wanting to go it alone should nip to Long Siberia, the second ground on the site, where 23 fully automated stands await.
The Scottish arm of the Bisley brand at Braidwood is also a delight. The ground has, like its southern counterpart, an authentic layout for game shooters to enjoy. Post shooting one can relax in the clubhouse with its restaurant, retail store and gunroom. Membership here in 2015 was up by 25 per cent (pipping its sister ground by five points) with the group as a whole operating 99 per cent on customer recommendation. Both grounds hold pre-season simulated game days.
Contact : 01483 797017 (Surrey) 01835 870280 (Braidwood) Website: bisleyshooting.co.uk
Coniston Shooting Ground
Address: Coniston Cold, Skipton, N. Yorks, BD23 4EA
Profile: Set in 1,400 acres, this ground won the Shooting Industry Awards best shooting ground category this year. Sporting targets are laid out in woodland and the ground’s owner, Peter Manely, has had an 86ft high tower installed to replicate the kind of targets you’ll face in this iconic county during the season. Equally authentic is the purpose-built clubhouse, and the range of shotguns and clothing it carries isn’t too shabby either. Set between the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland, this shooting ground is ideally positioned for those look for a sharpener before their day there.
Contact: 01756 748586 Website: conistonshootingground.co.uk
County Clays Shooting Ground
Address: Dunkeld Hotel, Dunkeld, Perth & Kinross, PH8 0HX
Profile: Located near the A9 between Perth and Inverness, this Scottish shooting ground is set within the grounds of the 280-acre Dunkeld Park Estate, around an hour from Edinburgh. The ground, originally designed by the late Sir Reo Stakis, has expanded thanks to the efforts and investment of current owner Clark Taylor. There are over a dozen stands to choose from at County Clays, and the ground is also home to the highest shooting tower in Scotland.
Contact: 01350 728666 Website: countyclays.co.uk
Monckton Shooting Ground
Address: Hunsley Road, North Newbald, E. Yorks, YO43 4TW
Profile: Last year, Shooting Gazette’s editor-at- large, Robin Scott, described Monckton as “the daddy of them all” as far as Yorkshire shooting grounds are concerned. The ground’s 160ft high tower is affectionately referred to as the “Jewel in the Crown” and its two automatic traps take no prisoners on any of the 10 stands you can shoot the targets from. The grouse flush at Monckton is also worthy of mention, not least for the way the targets are thrown off the brow of the hill, and it will be perfect practice if a group of you are heading onto the moors between August and December.
Contact: 01430 827229 Website: moncktonshoot.co.uk
West London Shooting School (WLSS)
Address: Sharvel Lane, West End Road, Northolt, Middx, UB5 6RA
Profile: The first of two Middlesex operations on our list is a shooting institution, thanks in part to its association with instructor Percy Stanbury, whose iconic stance forms part of the well-appointed school’s logo. Head here to sharpen up on grouse in a dizzying layout and if you want to practise for the high stuff you’ll need to stand in the shadow of the school’s 125ft high tower. WLSS is the kind of place where you’ll get a feel for the traditions of game shooting without being intimidated, and where relaxing in the clubhouse is actively encouraged. Courses for deer stalking and grouse shooting are growing in popularity, with the lady gun and young shots days run in association with Purdey.
Contact: 020 8845 1377 Website: shootingschool.co.uk
Honesberie Shooting School
Address: The Grange Priors Marston, Southam, Warks, CV47 7SG
Profile: GB and England shot Nick Hollick has been incredibly busy since he and Julian Copeman first established Honesberie on 400 acres of farmland in the early 2000s. There are some 80 traps here, including three high towers and grouse butts. The most marked change is the impressive new oak framed shooting lodge, which houses a gunroom, dining room, retail shop and conference facilities. Honesberie works closely with a number of schools and its young shots days are a regular feature in the summer holiday calendar.
Contact: 01327 262922 Website: honesberieshooting.co.uk
Ian Coley Shooting School
Address: Nr Andoversford, Cheltenham, Gloucs, GL54 4AX
Profile: The school is one quarter of Ian Coley’s empire which collected the Best Gunshop award at the recent Time Inc. Shooting Industry Awards. With most of its stands set within mature woodland game shots will be in familiar surroundings and out of their comfort zone if they tackle either of the three high towers on site. The grounds are also home to the extensive shop with heaps of country clothing and over 1,000 guns to choose from. With the sporting agency on the same site you’ll do well not to at least pinch a brochure for further (and discrete) reading once home.
Contact: 01242 870391 Website: iancoley.co.uk
West Midlands Shooting Ground
Address: Hodnet, Market Drayton, Shrops, TF9 3LH
Profile: Established in 1934, WMSG is another ground which has seen a huge expansion in recent years, most notability the extension of its Scandinavian log cabin the summer before last. There are 80 stands here with around 200 targets to choose from. Privately owned by Tom and Debra Jones, who know their clients’ needs very well, you can expect to be treated like one of the family while in their company. We once said WMSG was “considered to one of the very finest of its kind” – that is still very much the case today.
Contact: 01939 200644 Website: wmsg.co.uk
Royal Berkshire Shooting School (RBSS)
Address: Tomb Farm, Reading, W. Berks, RG8 8SD
Profile: Part of the Royal Berkshire Shooting Group, RBSS is a multiple award winning shooting school that has helped 100 charities raise over £24,000,000 through its famous clay days. Established 25 years ago by Dylan Williams, the school boasts an attractive layout, one of the best gunrooms outside of London and a clothing store home to garments where function and practicality is married to style and sophistication. The group’s Really Wild Clay Days will offer those looking for simulated shooting the chance to experience some of the best estates in Wales and central England.
Contact: 01491 672900 Website: rbss.co.uk
Holland & Holland Shooting Ground
Address: Ducks Hill Road, Northwood, Middx, HA6 2ST
Profile: While not every driven game shot will be able to rely on a pair of Hollands every time they enter the field, the 150 years’ of knowledge from its ground’s instructors, led by Chris Bird, will help them to get the most out of their shooting. Set in 100 aces of rolling countryside the grounds contain a plethora of targets for game shooters, including a pigeon range and grouse butt it claims to be “not for the faint hearted”.The shooting lodge has the air of a gentleman’s club, underlining the extremely high standards Holland & Holland sets for itself. Green and Silver Feathers courses for ladies, young shots days and deer stalking courses equally underline its commitment to giving clients a solid base from which to develop.
Contact: 01923 825349 Website: hollandandholland.com
E.J. Churchill Shooting Ground
Address: Park Lane, Lane End, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP14 3NS
Profile: Buckinghamshire’s biggest and best shooting ground has always been close to Shooting Gazette’s heart, not least because of the friendly welcome, expert instruction and constantly evolving layout, all managed under watchful eye of charismatic managing director Rob Fenwick. Game shots can get their eye-in on one five grouse butts and 150 different stands, including a 130ft high tower. E.J. Churchill has expanded its business dramatically over the past decade but has never lost sight of its core customers, many of whom will have taken to the field through its impressive sporting agency. Various courses including its
Young Guns Academy are helping to bring in and bring on the next generation of our sport. Try not to bankrupt yourself in the ground’s plentiful shop.
Contact: 01494 883227 Website: ejchurchill.com