All I want for Christmas is… Boxing Day!
Why do I say that? Well, it is because the Boxing Day shoot has always been my favourite day in the shooting season. As a child growing up I always hoped that “Father Christmas” would deliver something with a shooting theme. A new jacket, a new pair of socks, new headphones, new gloves, new cartridge bag, new cartridge belt, new gun slip, new boots, new breeks, new shooting tie, new shooting shirt, hand warmers, cleaning kit, game book… they all appeared under the tree over the years of my youth and each and every time I couldn’t wait to use the latest present. Hence, in part my love of the Boxing Day shoot, as it gave me the chance to use the new kit.
But there is also something very special about the Boxing Day shoot. It starts with the obligatory fancy dress (one well-known Hampshire shooting family wear matching Christmas jumpers every Boxing Day), it seemingly always includes a plethora of Mince Pies and, inevitably, features the uncorking of the ‘vintage and secret recipe” Sloe Gin. But there is so much more. I shot my first Pheasant on a Boxing Day shoot on Anglesey and I sincerely hope that this year’s Boxing Day will be a day of first for many “young guns”. I shall always remember the thrill of my first shoot day. The sights, the sounds and of course the smells (nothing beats the smell of a freshly fired cartridge) so clear in my memory. For many shoots, Boxing Day is more relaxed, the family atmosphere and sense of fun ensuring everybody enjoys the day. For some shoots the day finishes with lunch whilst for other shoots…the day starts with lunch. But one thing is for sure, it is still a very special day.
But the season is far from over! Whilst January does see some shoots start to slow down, there is still plenty of sport to be had. The birds are now at their very fittest and strongest, so please make sure you have the right cartridges. It is as important to change shot size, from a 6 to 5 or even a 5 to 4, as it is to change load. Equally, do still have a practice before the first drive - January birds are faster and higher and you need to make sure you are at your best for these remaining days. However, if your season has ended then please do remember to get your gun serviced before putting it away.
As you can see, plenty to look forward to, but looking back over the last twelve months, it has been a brilliant and busy year. We have been thrilled to see how the Gun Room and Country Store have grown so quickly and built such a loyal customer base. The Really Wild days have continued to prove as popular as ever with new and regular clients alike, whilst the Sporting Agency team have been as busy as ever around the country, across Europe and even in Africa. Meanwhile the brilliant team here at the School have been exceptionally busy, not just teaching, but hosting events, young shots days, ladies days and some wonderful social shoots. In looking back, I must thank all the team here at The Royal Berkshire. They have worked tirelessly, passionately and always with a smile to provide the very best lessons, events, simulated days, games days and service in the Shop and Gun Room. Thank you to all of you. Without you, The Royal Berkshire Shooting School would be nothing.
It remains for me to wish everybody a very Happy Christmas and healthy New Year. I hope the rest of you enjoy safe and memorable shooting.