Want to keep in practice or just have fun then try simulated game bird shooting
I would be the first to admit that shotgunning of all types has more devotees than rifle shooting in the UK. There are many clay pigeon grounds, which are well attended as access is easy and of all our gun sports is also seen as the most acceptable by the general public. Plus bird hunting is massively popular be it decoying pigeons or going after the flying royalty of pheasants and grouse. The serious Brits love to get out with their tweets along with a matched pair of dogs and also traditional, side-by-side shotguns preferred by some. However, this form of shooting can be expensive and is seasonal, so what do you do to keep your eye in for the rest of the year? The answer is simulated game shoots.
I have been on a few of these and they are not that expensive and you can guarantee a lot of shooting as clays do not have to be reared or driven and are a lot cheaper than live birds! A good shoot will be able to offer just about every type of scenario you would encounter in the field; crossers, going away and coming at you, birds both high and low and the challenging ultra high birds. The days are generally informal but run properly with a safety brief plus food and drink.
High capacity, automatic traps are used, either in fixed positions or mounted on teleporters, which are high mobility agricultural vehicles with extending hydraulic booms. In the latter case, they can be driven into any position and offer far more flexibility of launching than fixed traps! Generally, shooters are split into two squads with one firing and the other loading for them, which helps, each gets about ten minutes of fast and furious clays from all angles and it’s fun, challenging and great practice. It’s best to bring lots of cartridges, I tend to take around 500-shells and get through most of them in the day. That can be hard on the shoulder and I use my Browning Maxus as that’s a soft shooter!
Help and comments
There are no instructors but help or advice often comes from fellow shooters. I’m primarily a rifleman and a poor to average shotgunner with a ratio of four shells to one bird, I used to be a lot worse! But with so many targets and opportunities and the aforementioned, impromptu coaching my shooting has improved, the performance I can see out in the field as those pigeons are getting a bit easier to hit!
Simulated game shooting is a lot of fun and very satisfying and keeps you sharp no matter what sort of shotgunning you prefer and is becoming a lot more popular in the UK. It’s also for the novice and expert alike and will not cost a fortune. The latter group normally get in a couple of shots before the game shooting season starts to get their eyes back in! One final aspect I did note is that more people in the UK are moving away from the traditional 12-bore and trying 28, 20, 16 and even .410 guns. All of which can do the business just as well in the right hands!