Make the most of simulated game days

10 May 2019

Make the most of simulated game days

Written by Will Hetherington, Contributing Editor Over the last 10 years, simulated game days have become increasingly popular and rightly so, but how can you make the most of the opportunity to become a better shot? For a fraction of the price of a game day you can enjoy a full day’s fabulous driven shooting, the only difference being you will be shooting clays and not game. A proper simulated game day will be run along the same lines as a driven game day and will be fantastic fun. You will meet in the morning at the shoot lodge and draw for pegs, before travelling out on to the estate to enjoy a few drives with a break for elevenses. After a leisurely lunch, you will shoot another one or two drives before tea and departure. Apart from the fact you will be shooting clays and not birds the other main differences are likely to be you will pull the trigger more than on a game day, and there may be 16 guns rather than eight. Because there is no shortage of shooting it’s very common to shoot half of one drive and load for your partner for the other half. Book an instructor But how can you make the most of this opportunity to become a better game shot? There is a danger you will over-shoot and exacerbate bad habits so we turned to Dylan Williams at the Royal Berkshire Shooting School (RBSS) for some top tips on how to make the most of simulated game days this summer. The RBSS’s sister company The Really Wild Clay Company arranges and hosts these days at a selection of the UK’s finest estates so they know the business inside out and Dylan said: “If you are in the early stages of your shooting career having had some lessons at a shooting ground, do be sure to book an instructor to accompany you on your simulated day to get the most out of your day. “You may well get more out of attending an August/September day because it’s so close to the start of the game season. You can get into the swing of shooting and be properly prepared for the first real birds. But be careful to research the venue and the clays it offers if you are using the day for a specific reason i.e. getting ready for the partridge season.” Fringe benefits A simulated day is not just about preparing for the new season; it will offer a number of other opportunities, as Dylan explained: “This is a great opportunity, if you are looking to buy a new gun, to enjoy a whole day of ascertaining whether it is right for you. You will certainly put yourself and your gun through a rigorous test as it’s perfectly normal to shoot 250 shells at least on one of these days, and 500 is not unusual. “For those that are not experienced in driving 4x4 cars, it’s also a great opportunity to do so on some testing terrain. This is also a great time to try using a different bore gun. If you are used to shooting a 12 bore and have often wondered about switching to a 20 then this is the time to give it a go.” Be prepared for hot barrels Throughout the day a wide variety of drives will offer plenty of different types of shot, from high pheasants and typical hedgerow English partridges through to wildfowl coming into lakes. Don't forget to take a handguard and a shooting waistcoat with neoprene pad. And please don't take 30 gram 5s - you will find 21g or 23g loads will ensure all the clays are hit with minimal recoil. Use the day as an opportunity to practise and develop muscle memory in relation to swing and gun mount on special birds rather than blasting at everything you see. Questions you should ask How much experience does the operator have? Do they use automatic or manual traps? What are the rules regarding plastic and fibre wad cartridges? Is there a specific dress code (often jeans, shirt and waistcoat will suffice)? What efforts are put in for true simulation? Is there a realistic space between the pegs and are the towers, traps and trailers kept out of sight during the day? Also, can they provide over-and-unders for those who may only have side-by-sides, given how hot those barrels will get? You get what you pay for You will see a wide range of prices on the market and a lot of this will be reflected in the quality of the catering and the shoot lodge. Basically the more you pay the grander the venue and the better the catering. So you pay your money and you take your choice. But, as Dylan explained further: “The best simulated providers might have flags simulating flankers and stops, with the trappers also taking the time to make some typical noises you might normally expect from the beating line. It’s quite normal to have less experienced guns on days like these so you should expect highly experienced shooting instructors to be present to ensure maximum safety at all times. Finally you should enjoy every moment of the day – after all, that’s what it’s all about.” For more information visit the RBSS website