Shooting businesses can fall into any number of categories, be they gunshops and bespoke country clothiers to hospitality and shoot day chauffeur providers.
There is more to Yorkshire’s sporting heritage than grouse moors, high pheasants, beautiful scenery and pulling the trigger. Scores of shooting businesses make the shoot days tick and here’s a selection…
Shooting businesses – food and drink
If you’ve bought game that originated from estates in Yorkshire then chances are it passed through Yorkshire Game on its way to your basket. Founded in 1983, the staff of 50 doubles over the course of the shooting season to supply Michelin-starred restaurants, supermarkets, butchers and wholesalers both home and abroad. On average it takes two days for game to go from fur and feather to oven-ready, and the 22,000square foot site in Richmond is set to grow further thanks to a £500,000 investment made to meet the growing demand for game and packaging alternatives. Yorkshire Game lent a hand to London pub The Jugged Hare last year during its quest to shoot and serve grouse on the Glorious Twelfth; Shooting Gazette attended the dinner and we can safely say our grouse was in good hands right from when it left the moor.
Bon Coeur Fine Wines
Founded in 1994 with £1,000 borrowed from his father, James Goodhart’s independent wine merchant has an impressive array of wines, champagnes, spirits and liqueurs. While this growing business counts the more traditional wines as its best sellers, it is also smart enough to know what those wanting something off the beaten track might like the look of.
James informs us that national pride comes into play with international teams, but when domestic parties are looking for something it tends to be down to the shoot captain’s personal taste. Being based in pretty Masham – Bon Coeur moves to a new premises just off Scotch Corner in September – means that business tends to be care of those shooting nearby or on their way up to Scotland, and that also helps when desperate parties are pleading for same-day delivery. But as James points out, even when you have ordered something, it’s better to let the wine rest for a day or two after receipt – and don’t under-estimate the benefit of good glassware when serving.
As a committee member for the North Yorkshire GWCT, James clearly understands the needs of shoots both in terms of time and taste. This has helped him mould the services he and his staff provide for shooting parties over the course of the season.
“It really just boils down to trust and advice,” he tells us. “Many game shoots are run on tight budgets so it is often trying to find wines that over deliver and fit the mould of the shoot. Lunch is an important part of the day and wine is easily overlooked. We will match wine to the food and style of the shoot. Often before the season begins we send out sample tasting cases for our customers to try. Hosting a lunch/dinner with the confidence that the wines are good ensures our customers can focus on their guests.”
James is full of wine tips, including one about transportation. “Decant the wine into a jug, rinse the bottle and decant the wine back into the bottle and put the cork in. Then it doesn’t matter if the bottle gets shaken up in the back of a vehicle before lunch.”
Corney & Barrow
Founded in 1780, Corney & Barrow has a pretty impressive coverage, both vineously and geographically, across shooting country. Amongst its services, the fine wine merchant works with Strutt & Parker, CKD Galbraith and others, as well as supplying sporting lodges and hotels, to deliver a carefully designed wine offering directly to your party.
Where: Sedbury Stables, Sedbury Hall, Richmond, DL10 5LQ
Tel: 01748 828 640
Raisthorpe Manor Fine Foods
The multi-award-winning off-shoot of Raisthorpe Flyers that started life as the Medforth family’s own recipe for raspberry gin liqueur back in 2008 has grown in size and reputation, under the watchful eye of founder Julia Medforth, to a company now supplying the likes of Harvey Nicholls and farm shops across the county and beyond – not bad for an elevenses tipple!
A regular on Shooting Gazette’s Christmas food and drinks pages for the past few years, Raisthorpe Manor’s ingredients come direct from the Raisthorpe Estate or are bought directly from local growers. The range now covers flavoured vodka, whisky, sloe gin, preserves and even chocolate.
Already a fan of this proud Yorkshire brand? There’s good news and bad: the Medforths are looking at developing new products all the time but don’t expect any of the recipes to be made public any time soon (all recipes are guarded with the utmost secrecy).
Shooting businesses – clothiers
Shooting Gazette has been a distant admirer of this Harrogate clothiers ever since owner and keen shot Jeremy Wood Beaumont contributed his own brand of sartorial chi to the subject of bespoke shooting suits for our Dressed to Kill feature in 2013. While from the outside Rhodes Wood doesn’t appear to have any connection to the countryside – the window display is business cool and Riviera chic – this clothiers makes around 20-30 shooting suits a year and dispenses crucial style advice for both seasoned and new game shooters alike.
Using Scottish tweeds, Jeremy and his team are adept in giving their sporting customers an air of understated elegance on the peg through their two-piece offerings. This usually takes the form of plus twos/fours along with a jacket that is dispensed with in favour of a technical shooting jacket, but that doesn’t mean that with the help of a pivot sleeve or action back your bespoke top layer can’t join you in the field. Tack in a waistcoat, vest and even a cap (not at the same time necessarily) and you have all the ingredients to look and feel good in the fresh air.
It’s usually eight weeks from the initial conversation about your shooting habits including regularity, quarry and even the position of bellows pockets (yes, really) before the garments are ready. As a shooting man who knows how easily those new to the sport can commit schoolboy faux pas, Jeremy will be a fountain of knowledge when taking your measurements. Those with aspirations of peacockery might find their wants tempered, but this is justified by his taking countless factors into account.
Looking for early season footwear? Seek out Christopher Forbes Shoes inside. Worth a visit for the dry wit exchanged between the staff alone.
A Rhodes Wood two-piece shooting suit ranges from between £950 (half canvassed) and £1,600 (full canvas bespoke).
Des Merrion Bespoke
Des Merrion is a craftsman in the truest sense of the word. A third-generation tailor, Des’s modest rooms near Rothwell underpin his approach to his product: whether church mouse or fat cat, you’re not buying a shopping experience here, you’re buying a great suit. And that includes shooting suits – Des counts seasoned guns and whole gamekeepering teams from estates around the country as past customers. All of his wool is Yorkshire woven, and the variety of weights – 30oz down to 10oz – means the 47-year-old can cater for those who like their Highland stags as much as their Spanish partridge. You’ll have to be patient if ordering a suit here, however. There’s a four-month waiting list and this master tailor cannot be rushed.
A Des Merrion Bespoke semi-bespoke shooting suit starts from £1,350 and a fully bespoke shooting suit starts from £2,500.
Humphrey & Tilly
Based across two premises in Thirsk and named after two labradors, Humphrey & Tilly was founded by Stephen Ranaghan and David Pipes in 2009. Although “one stop shop” is a bit of a cliché, it’s worth mentioning the boys have extended their opening hours to help out more than a few shooting parties short on kit in the past. Many a leading country brand has found its way through its doors and the shop can furnish guns and their guests as much as gamekeepers and gundogs. Humphrey & Tilly even has its own label, including its own tweeds, which can be turned into bespoke garments that often out-perform its branded competitors at the till.
Greene & Clark
The travelling tailors Fiona Greene founded with her now husband Tim Clark in 2006 creates some of the most vibrant bespoke clothing you’ll find anywhere, and whether it’s four-piece shooting suits or threads for city boulevardiers, everything comes from her own needle. The cloth is the best Yorkshire and Scotland can offer, and there’s no reason the more unusual requests can’t be catered for. “The irony about ‘fashion’, especially within both the countryside and shooting circles, is that the classics always come back in,” she says.
A Greene & Clark three-piece shooting suit starts from £1,020.
Shooting businesses – gunshops
Founded in 1980, York Guns is one of those multi-layered gunshops where all budgets and tastes can be catered for. What the team here doesn’t know about best optics, shotguns, rifles and sporting clothing can be written on the back of a stamp.
Northallerton Shooting & Countrywear
Newly settled into a purpose-built shop in Breckenbrough near Thirsk, Northallerton Shooting & Countrywear’s position between the North York Moors and North Pennines gives the word “convenient” a broader meaning for stalkers and fieldsportsmen looking for reliable firearms and other equipment. The 20-year-old company, bought by Tom Bell last July, supplies shotguns and rifles to big hitters like Duncombe Park, Gunnerside and Bransdale. Look out for them at this year’s Game Fair.
With over 20 years’ experience under its belt this gunshop on Birdgate is confident in its ability to give shotgun, rifle and air gun enthusiasts a wide range of products and expertise to match. The gunroom is an Aladdin’s Cave featuring some of the best names in the business, and there is even a “try before you buy” range for air gun customers.
A gunmaking name that stretches back to the 1780s with connections to London, Birmingham and Liverpool, W. Richards was brought to Pocklington in the late 1990s by owner Chris Caine who, along with a timeserved team, continues to manufacture bespoke shotguns to order. W. Richards specialises in the restoration of English shotguns, offers an in-house repair service for all makes of shotguns and rifles and even a quality gunfitting service with links to a recognised ISSF instructor. An impressive collection of new and used shotguns, clothing and accessories can also be found on the premises.
Shooting businesses – transport
Yorkshire Chauffeur Company
At first glance, Yorkshire Chauffeur Company (YCC) is a service for those visitors who want to take the stress out of travelling as much as it is for those wanting to arrive in style. Scratch the surface however and you’ll discover it is so much more than that. Founded in 2012 by Howard Smelt-Webb, YCC is a high-end bespoke service now receiving plaudits from across the globe.
Howard, a farmer’s son now based in Bedale, has an encyclopedic knowledge of his home county and his growing contact book includes an impressive list of shoots, hotels and restaurants built up over the past three shooting seasons – we’ll mention the Black Swan in Helmsley and Swinton Park for starters. Meticulous planner Howard and his team are also growing in experience thanks to collaborations with Roxtons and Davis & Bowring.
Despite its name, YCC isn’t confined to its home county. A fleet of Range Rover Sports, luxury saloons, people carriers or mini buses can take you wherever your party needs to go and there are no robotic butlers amongst the ranks. Howard knows each type of job requires a certain type of driver, so if your team is one that loves to share the ribbing around you’re unlikely to have an Alfred Pennyworth behind the wheel. YCC counts former Royal Protection Officers and firearms instructors as drivers, and all can pick you up from say Leeds/Bradford Airport and have you in Aberdeenshire or Powys two days later if it’s what you need during your trip. YCC wears tweeds for sporting visitors, so look beyond the name cards, dark glasses and limos if one of its drivers is collecting you.