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Country Jottings–The Glorious Twelfth

The British game season is nearly here, as is one of the great shooting traditions unique to rural Britain–The Glorious Twelfth marks the start of the game shooting season, declaring the Red Grouse as fair game.

To celebrate this Great British staple The Sporting Lodge has pulled together the 12 facts everyone needs to know about The Glorious Twelfth.

  1. The tradition of grouse shooting can be traced back over 160 years and gained popularity after the introduction of railways allowed easier access to the moors.
  2. It is illegal to shoot grouse on a Sunday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Even though not illegal the custom has been adopted in Scotland and is strictly adhered to.  In cases where the Glorious Twelfth falls on a Sunday (like this year) it will be moved to the thirteenth of August.
  3. The Game Act of 1831 specifies the red grouse shooting season must run from the 12thAugust to 10th
  4. Red Grouse are not artificially reared for shooting, they are wild birds–gamekeepers manage the moorlands to maximise the number of available birds and conserve the biodiversity of the grouse moors.
  5. Red grouse is a native bird to the United Kingdom and are not found anywhere else in the world.
  6. A typical grouse can eat up to 50g of heather in a day, as well as berries and seeds. They eat the young green heather shoots and shelter in the older heather.
  7. There are around 459 grouse moors in the UK which is 75% of what is left worldwide.
  8. Red grouse can fly at speeds of up to 80mph, often low and can change direction at a second’s notice–a perfect challenge for skilled guns.
  9. Grouse shooters opt for dark colours, so they blend in with their surroundings and are not spotted by the birds. And traditional styles and fabrics such as tweed, checked shirts, breeks, moleskin and flat caps.
  10. Red grouse have a distinctive call that sounds like ‘Go back! Go back! Go Back!’ as they fly over the heather.
  11. By early evening on the Glorious Twelfth the red grouse shot that day will be on the menu at some of the finest restaurants in the UK.
  12. Grouse shooting generates around £150 million for the economy every year and supports approximately 2,500 jobs from gamekeepers and beaters to people within the tourism and hospitality industry.

Make sure you are ready for the season ahead with the extensive range of shooting clothing and accessories from The Sporting Lodge including Beretta, James Purdey, Dubarry, Fjallraven, Alan Paine and many more, shop here.

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Shooting Instructor’s Day Off To The Royal Cheshire County Fair

by Brett Davies.

It’s a bad sign when your day off work starts with an early morning. But, if you are planning a visit to The Royal Cheshire County Fair, I highly recommended that dreaded early morning start. After a quick Starbucks stop off we still had a long wait in show traffic before we reached the ground. Wishing I hadn’t ordered the Large Coffee we swiftly headed towards the gates.

The Royal Cheshire County Fair, with the familiar smells of cows to your right, pigs to your left and sheep straight ahead. We have been coming to the show for a good few years on the run, no map was needed as everything is well signposted.

We started with the livestock, a good idea considering it was boiling hot and all the tents that featured animals were nice and cool. An impressive display of the sheep shearing gave me some good knowledge to try out on the dogs later at home. The young lads worked quick and precise before educating the audience on the age old tradition.

The Royal Cheshire Show is a good place to look at cars, yes cars (?). As always there was a stronghold of auto-mobiles in the middle of the show ground.

Instead we headed to the main ring and the always exciting Pony Club Games. I highly recommend looking at the games, they are full of energy, some impressive speed and competitive spirit. For those who don’t know what The Pony Club Games are, it is like a sports day for kids on ponies. With games that include passing items to other rides, collecting items and placing them in set places all whilst on a pony and travelling at high speeds. The teams receive points for completing the challenges first, the winning team won a memorial trophy at the end of the games.

Being proud owners of a LOT of poultry, one of our favourite parts of the show is the poultry tent. Which if you are like us and like seeing the different arrays of chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese, I would recommend you visiting the show on the first day. The second day leaves only the winning birds, pigeons and rabbits. Unfortunately, at this point Mrs Davies noticed the Pygmy Goat Club sign. Luckily for me she couldn’t fit the goat she had gotten attached to under her shirt, though I’m sure if my back was turned, she would have tried. But, I would like to say a big thank you to the lady who took the time to convince Mrs Davies that the best dog to own is an Irish Wolf Hounds. The dog show provides an array of dog breeds from the great to the small but equally great.

The Show arenas hold all kinds of attractions, from the Scots Guard Association Pipe Band, Falconry Displays, The parade of the cattle and one of my favourite attractions, the Huntsman and Hounds.

We took a trip down to the have a go clay pigeon shooting, with good incoming targets for first timers, they also had an air rifle range and archery. It was nice to see a wide variation of people having a go at the shooting stand. Talking of shooting, back to work I go with a full week of lessons ahead. The Cheshire show is a good county fair and a good day off. But we are, as always, excited for the year’s supply of Game Fairs.

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Introducing – Brett Davies

The Sporting Lodge would like to give a warm welcome to our new blog contributor Brett Davies.

Brett is a highly experienced game and clay pigeon shooting instructor at North Wales Shooting School, with an impressive history in competitive shooting.

As a junior, Brett re-wrote history by winning the Home International Championship with a score of 196/200 making him the Inter Countries all round Champion. He was the only junior to win this title. He also was the Home International Champion at Automatic Ball Trap as a Junior shooting for England.

Brett then went on to represent The England Shooting Team three times, winning the English Open Sporting AA class and the English Open ABT.

In 2016, America also opened up a wealth of opportunities for Brett, as this is where he achieved 12th place in the Seminole Cup.

Staying true to his roots, Brett represents Cheshire in national inter counties competitions where he has become Cheshire’s English sporting, English Skeet and Olympic trap county champion numerous times at senior level. Within Cheshire, Brett is also the Sporting and Skeet Doubles Champion.

At present, Brett is ranked 8th in the official CPSA top ten ranked English sporting shooters in the country. Brett is also the current West Midlands Inter Counties all round Champion.

We are really looking forward to getting a glimpse into Brett’s life, seeing where his shooting careers takes him next and getting some of those valuable shooting tips!

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Clay Pigeon Shooting Glasses

When clay shooting, it is always advisory to wear glasses to protect your eyes from fragments of broken clay. They are also extremely useful for improving visibility in different outdoor conditions. A variety of coloured lenses are used to help different coloured clays show up better in specific conditions, lighting or backgrounds. I use Beretta or Pilla shooting glasses and generally use a 22N lens now the weather is nice and light.

The Beretta Race Glasses are a particular favourite of mine.

 They offer an all-round lens, which shows up orange clays very well against a background and vision for black clays is not compromised. They are have a rather wide lens, which stops light from flooding in.

During the winter when the lighting is poor and rather dull, I mostly use a clear lens with a slight tint of green, allowing most light to enter your eyes.
There are many different brands and models of shooting glasses, some much better than others, mainly based on the clarity of the lenses. You can tell the difference between cheap and expensive shooting glasses rather easily. Cheap shooting glasses can perform a basic job and are often a popular choice for people who are not keen to invest a lot of time or money in shooting. However, those who are regular shooters and particularly those who compete find that high quality shooting glasses are a great investment of money as the difference in protection and performance is vast.

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3 Things to Consider When Clay Pigeon Shooting

3 Things to Consider When Clay Pigeon Shooting

Stance

It is important to stand comfortably when shooting, but positioning and angle is essential too. The front foot generally should be pointing to where you are going to shoot, and the other placed in a way that provides balance when shooting. Being unstable can disturb your alignment and therefore reduce the accuracy of your shot.

Cartridge Choice

Cartridge choice is really down to opinion and preference. The most important thing is being confident with what you’re shooting as this is more likely to ensure consistent scores. The best thing to determine which cartridge is most suitable is to test them and how they go through the gun you are shooting. One method of doing this is to pattern them at around 30 yards and then see how many gaps are in the pattern. It is best to have little or no gaps to reduce the chance of not breaking the clay. 

Time to Shoot

Although shooting in warmer, less windy conditions is always preferable, it is important to practice in all weather conditions if you are planning on taking part in registered competitions as this prepares you for whatever conditions you may be faced with. Knowing how to respond to rain, sun, wind and different lighting will provide you with an advantage.

Thanks Fred – really great top tips! For all your shooting accessories & clothing at The Sporting Lodge browse here.

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Fred Whitehurst – at the English Open Sporting Championship

I mentioned in my intro blog that I was going to be taking part in the English Open Sporting Championship, so I thought I would update you on how it went. The event took place on Wednesday 10th May at Highwaymans Shooting Ground in Suffolk. Fortunately, we had extremely nice weather and the conditions were perfect for shooting – Nice and warm with no wind meaning the consistency of the targets was very good.

The shoot itself was set up very well and ran very smoothly, which helps to reduce any nerves. There was a range of targets to suit shooters of all abilities. I shot 105/120 putting me in joint 3rd in the juniors category, however as I decided the 4 hour drive to the final would be inconvenient I did not get placed.

Highwaymans Shooting Ground is a fantastic CPSA Registered ground, which I would definitely recommend it to other keen shooters.

Thanks Fred, and well done – keep us posted!

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Introducing – Fred Whitehurst

Meet Fred Whitehurst, our newest Blog Contributor for The Sporting Lodge.

Hi, I’m Fred Whitehurst, a 17 year old shooting enthusiast. My Dad introduced me to game shooting at a young age, and over the past three years I have also got into clay pigeon shooting as it allows me to get my practice in all year round.

I was ranked No 1 in colts in UK until I recently moved up to the juniors where I am now ranked 8th in the UK.

I shoot most weekends, whether that be practising, taking part in local shooting competitions or representing Cheshire CPSN at county shows around the country. My next big competition is the English open this week where I will be hoping to improve on my no 8 ranking. Wish me luck!

My current weapon of choice is a Perazzi MX8, 12 bore 30½” barrel (my pride and joy).

At home, we have 4 dogs; 2 working cockers, a German wirehaired pointer and a lab x Collie. This is my dog which I have trained myself to be a retriever at our local bird shoot throughout the winter when I am not clay shooting.

I have a real passion for everything outdoors and I am currently studying agricultural engineering, so I am pretty handy on the tools which has put me in good stead whilst working on my Defender.

If you would like to keep up to date with my progress, my passion the sport of shooting and maybe a few hints and tips then you can find my latest posts here on The Sporting Lodge Blog.

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James Purdey – The Best in the World

by Neil Summers.

James Purdey, the best gunmakers in the world for over 200 years.

In 1814 James Purdey established his gun and rifle making business at premises in Prince’s street just off Leicester Square and within ten years was regarded as the finest gunmaker in London. By 1858 his son took over the running of the company from his father. Being at forefront of change and advances in the design and building of his guns and rifles James the Younger improved on his father’s legacy by taking out several patents for technical innovations, many of which went on to be adopted by other gunmakers such as the Purdey bolt. In 1868 Purdey received its first Royal Warrant by appointment to the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII with Queen Victoria also granting an additional warrant ten years later such was her love of their prestigious guns. Shortly after this time Purdey moved to new prem­ises at 57 South Audley Street where they offered gun-making workshops and cartridge load facilities and is where the company is still situated to this day.

At the turn of the century Athol Purdey took over from his father, James Purdey the Younger with his two sons James & Thomas joining the firm after recovering from serious injuries sustained fighting in France during WW1. The two brothers later took over the business though due to the economic downturn caused by WW2 sold the majority of their shares to Hugh & Victor Seeley though continued to establish Purdey as the as the best gun makers on a global scale with the help of expert gunsmith Harry Lawrence.

After Richard Beaumount took over the business in the fifties his wife the Hon Mrs Richard Beaumont went on to set up the Purdey accessories shop in adjoining premises on Mount Street in the early Seventies. The shop sold a range of exclusive high quality shooting clothing and was the first London gunmaker to ever do so. Since then Purdey have celebrated their bi-centenary in 2014 and are firmly established as an iconic name synonymous with unrivalled gun making craftsmanship as well as having forged a reputation as suppliers of excellent outdoor attire and accessories.

We are so proud to work with Purdey, long may that continue, browse our extensive range at The Sporting Lodge.

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Brady Bags – Made in England

by Mark Smith and Neil Summers

The Brady brothers John and Albert started their company in Birmingham in 1887 having begun making leather goods in the 1870s. While they eventually made their name in fishing and game bags, it was their leather gun cases which first announced them to the outdoor community.

John’s son Ernest and Albert’s son, Leonard both joined Brady Brothers later and in 1928 Ernest took over the business.

The business grew from strength to strength under Ernest’s tutelage and in the 1930’s Ernest and Leonard moved to larger premises in Shadwell Street in the heart of Birmingham’s gun quarter. It was there Ernest first designed and personally made a range of fishing bags all named after English rivers. These bags came to personify the brand and gave them a strong identity on which to foster a prosperous future.

Brady gun cases became another mainstay of the brand and were coveted by the great and good, from the Sultan of Oman to the Duke of Westminster.

In what would seem an unlikely turn of events, Leonard sought to make his name in Hollywood and perhaps unsurprisingly his keen craftsmanship helped him establish himself as a prop maker in the film industry.

In the middle part of 20th century, the war effort meant the focus of Brady shifted and the entire business suffered serious upheaval. Ernest moved production to his home where he worked alongside a stitcher and machinist. Eventually, heavy bombing of the region meant another relocation was necessary and roots were put down in Halesowen in the Black Country.

As Brady sought to reestablish itself as the leading bag maker in post-war Britain, Ernest took the unusual step of building a caravan and taking his family on a road trip which led to London. While there he took his products into as many retailers as he could find and took orders which would prove to be a tremendous boon for the business.

With a fine tradition for using the best materials, including canvas and leather, Brady continue to be based just north of Birmingham in Walsall. Their values hold true and when many brands are transplanting their production overseas, Brady remains steadfast in its belief in British manufacturing. While the family took a step back in the 1990s, they kept the same ethos key to the future of Brady by passing the company into expert hands, based in the same region.

Brady still make some of the bags they did years & years ago using the same traditional methods they always have.

The Sporting Lodge have long been proud members of the Brady Bunch, having had a working relationship with the brand for more than half a century. Long may that continue. If they keep making great bags there’s no reason why not.

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Filson – Built to last

If you’re new to Filson, Mark Smith digs into the history.

Filson may have been around for several lifetimes, but it’s a new introduction for us here at the Sporting Lodge.

Clinton C. Filson spent the early part of his working life as a railroad conductor, before moving to Seattle, Washington in the 1890s. It was here where the real roots of Filson began, when Clinton set up a small loggers’ outfitting store. In a scene which was mirrored in many parts of the U.S in this era, Filson made its name meeting the needs of prospectors passing through Seattle on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush. The brand eventually got itself on a solid footing in 1897 and although the gold rush was relatively short-lived, it cemented the brand as a reliable supplier of clothing and accessories which would stand the test of time. After the gold rush ended around 1899, Filson shifted to providing gear for outdoor oriented activities and occupations including hunting, fishing and logging.

In the modern day, Filson continues to enjoy an unrivalled reputation in its field. In the early 90s, its heritage in canvas luggage was revived, while more recently in 2010 it fittingly partnered up with another brand born of the gold rush to create Levi’s Workwear by Filson.

With slogans such as ‘Unfailing Goods’ and ‘Built to Last’ running through their veins, Filson have a unique confidence in the gear they make. It’s perhaps their best known tagline which sums them up most accurately though – “Filson – Might as well have the best”.

We’ve handpicked products we think you’ll love. View the full range here.