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Simulated game day at Rutland Simulated Game

Rutland Simulated Game's day is as close to real game shooting as Richard Faulks has ever seen

clay pigeon shooting in Yorkshire

Ever fancied the thrill and excitement of a large driven game day at a fraction of the cost? Rutland Simulated Game are now offering what is as near to the real thing as I’ve ever seen, for just £90 per gun!

Most team flushes consist of four or five traps set in static positions, firing clays randomly over the line of guns, and it won’t take most shooters too long to work out where the targets come from and where they are going. Once locked on, breaking them can be all too easy and predictable.

With farmer/inventor Ferris Whidborne’s new Flurry Launcher traps, there really is no way of predicting the line and height of the clays as they’re all completely different. The traps look like large dustbin lids with a hole in the middle to load the midi-clays and a small firing lever on top. They pivot on the mount in all directions and are simply pointed wherever the operator wants them and fired as often as needed (up to four clays per second). There is a rotating arm inside the trap that spits the clays out at a faster speed than conventional traps and in still conditions they will fly 200 years.

The cost to you or I of a trap is around £1,200, which compares well with a ‘conventional’ style trap. Rutland Simulated Game use two of these traps mounted on a teleporter to give an elevated firing position. Just imagine, with two traps, up to eight clays per second, some climbing, some dropping, some curling and some just screaming straight ahead. You really do get every driven shot in the book and then some.

I joined a team of game shots from a local syndicate for their first try at simulated game shooting. Some had decided to go the whole hog and don their full shooting regalia and some looked at the weather forecast and were more pragmatic. It was hot! Along with there being no doubt that you’ll get the day’s bag, I guess that’s another plus for simulated days like this – shooting in shirt sleeves and being able to lie on the grass between drives felt very indulgent. Just think of those poor souls who have paid hundreds of pounds to stand in the fields waiting for the birds to lift on a live game day, only to watch their neighbour get all the shooting on the hot peg! None of that here. Pegs are drawn as you would normally, but there are no bad pegs to be had. With the abundance of clays in the air and only five in the line, everyone gets plenty of shooting from peg one to five. If you shoot a side-by-side, it will certainly be worth taking a glove for your leading hand if you want to keep your fingerprints!

watching clay shooting

The day is designed for 10 Guns with five shooting at one time

A cheaper alternative
Rutland Simulated Game have arranged their days to mimic a conventional driven game day as closely as possible, with refreshments and snacks on arrival and between drives (included in the price). There are three drives, with 1,000 clays on each and a five minute interval in the middle of each to let the barrels cool down and the guns to swap over. Will Gillman and Adam Cope, who run Rutland Simulated Game, recommend 10 Guns with five shooting at any one time, while the other five are loading, barracking and complaining about what their Gun just did wrong. Days can also be tailored to suit your preferences, but basically it’s £900 for 3,000 clays. Put into perspective, 100 clays at most shooting grounds cost between £20 and £35 and lord only knows the cost of having 3,000 game birds flown over your team of Guns!

There is plenty of variety over the drives, with one being in woodland with the clays appearing over the tree tops with little warning, one with the Guns standing at the bottom of a rolling valley, with the clays launched from the top of the hill as you’d expect to see high-gliding pheasants, and one where the clays appear over a hedge, low and fast to replicate the flight of partridge or grouse.

After the first drive, I chatted to Billy Sacker, who’s an enthusiastic game shot, to get his thoughts. “Firstly, Will and Adam are great hosts and they’ve made the day very relaxed and enjoyable. The targets are both fast and challenging which makes the day a great tool for practice. It’s more intense than the driven live game days I shoot on and it certainly gets the heart pumping. A day like this would also be a great way to introduce youngsters and novices alike to game shooting.” By the end of the day, Billy had put around 300 cartridges through his gun and next time will bring light loads.

You often hear game shots saying that shooting at clays really doesn’t help them when the season comes around, and there certainly are differences. Game birds are mostly speeding up and clays are always slowing down. But I’m a firm believer in shooting as often as possible at clays or pigeons in the closed season to ensure the gun mount and swing are still working well when the season starts. It’s got to make sense. For those of you lucky enough to get plenty of game shooting, this experience really will get your heart racing. The rest of us, who probably do a little game, pigeon, and clayshooting, a day out on simulated game really offers a great deal of bang for your buck with the added benefits that a traditional live game day offers.

Days like this really can be great fun and serve as great practice for the season ahead or just a great day out with friends who would like to see what a big live game day feels like without the uncertainty or cost involved. You can take it as seriously as you would like, banter and enthusiastic encouragement are positively encouraged!