Thursday, 30 November 2017

Squire attire

Aside from the rustic and wild days out shooting, the vigorous repairs or the ferrying around of some seriously high end shotguns LGS is secretly a bit of an Aladdin's cave for the country squire. It is often easy to overlook an accessory when it comes to shooting; there is such focus on the gun, the game, what you’ll need to wear or the type of cartridges you’ll need. But hidden within our cartridge treasure trove are some excellent stocking fillers...

We have a lovely selection of hip flasks: on a brisk winter’s afternoon as the dappled sunlight melts last night’s frost and the icy wind prickles its way through thick tweeds, a spot of homebrewed sloe gin whilst out on the go is the perfect winter warmer. Pair this with some jolly and jazzy House of Cheviot socks to lift everyone’s spirits and an Alan Paine pheasant tie and one couldn’t be more fitted to the country life. Spaniels basking by crackling fires and the delicate aroma of mince pies warming in the AGA also spring to mind.

We also have many other chic and unique gift ideas such as cufflinks, letter openers and bottle openers along with a vast array of shooting accessories. This is the perfect time of year to stock up and adorn oneself with glorified goodies and as Marc Jacobs once said: “Any opportunity to adorn oneself is human, and accessories are an easy way to do it”!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Fire and water

Having recently spent some time in the South of France I started to peruse over the idea of the shooting world outside the familiar surroundings of LGS. I am sure I am not alone in regarding such a glorious sport as, simply put: traditionally British. We think of the rosy golden hues of dusk that melt through gentle mists like water colour paints, along with the piercing kiss of the crisp cold air as it clings onto last night’s frost…obviously with a bit of tweed and a few Labradors thrown in the mix! The ever increasing requests for Visitor’s Permits we receive from shooters residing overseas also stresses just how renowned and world famous the British shooting scene really is, the most high end of which of course being by invitation only.

Nonetheless the shooting scene in France also has a certain je ne sais quoi. Trap and skeet shooting in France is as popular, if not more so, than it is in the UK. Shooting is very much embedded within the web of France’s culture and a license sportif de tir – namely, for sporting purposes as opposed to hunting is relatively easy to obtain. What appeals to me about France’s shooting scene is the availability of the popular tradition of shooting clays…from your boat. What better pastime than gliding out on the glittering Mediterranean sea whilst shooting a few clays as they dance over a shimmering sea in the dappled sunlight? One could even finish the day with a punchy espresso or ice cold Provence rose served in an elegant frosted glass overlooking the nearest harbour. However, the beautiful scenery and holiday feeling aside, I would imagine clay shooting at sea requires a completely different discipline to clay shooting at a shooting ground. The motion of the water inevitably throwing in an extra challenge.

However to get a bit of practice in before one waltzes off to the sud de la France, Thames Leisure offer a clay pigeon shooting cruise where one can simulate the pirate life (sort of) but instead of the Cote d’Azur coastline one’s backdrop is Tower Bridge and the iconic London skyline. Certainly ideal for those looking to add a bit of spark to a day on the river!

Monday, 14 August 2017

These birds have got game………

Or Weardale’s do anyway! And yes, this can only mean that the shooting season has finally begun and it has been much anticipated here at LGS. Ours began on the beautiful Weardale Estate on the Cumbrian boarder. Leaving myself and Guy in SW10 to man the office; Tom, Gary and Michael journeyed north to welcome in the season with a bang (pun intended). After meeting friends and clients the boys spent Friday evening in the only way one should, namely puffing on cigars and sipping the finest whiskies. There was a fantastic atmosphere with everyone in high spirits for the following day.

After an early start, it appeared that the weather didn’t look too favourable first thing, nonetheless by the time the gang had donned their tweeds and loaded up the cars sunlight started to melt away the clouds and it turned into the most glorious day. After driving up to the grouse moor everyone was raring to go. Michael briefed the estate loaders on the level of experience of each gun and everyone set about getting ready. Michael was loading for Tom but had a shot himself in the last drive and managed to impress the crowd pretty well!

The day’s shooting was exhilarating and fast paced, 3 guns had never shot grouse before and despite the intensity of the first day they all shot pretty well! Lunch was a delicious array of the likes of hams and quiches which was all terribly British. The grouse were pretty sprightly and moved at a rapid pace. Being the start of the season the birds were still young and had yet to work out where the grouse butts were located. This worked to the shooters advantage but being the speedy birds they are they still loved to dodge a bullet!

At around 4.30pm the day drew to a close and all went off to toast a successful start of the season. High spirits and excitement for the coming few months were bubbling as much as the Champagne. No doubt there were a few sore heads on Sunday!

Monday, 3 July 2017

Shooting as an art form

When one peruses over the idea of traditional British shooting, one may think of the likes of hearty ladies and gentlemen spilling from the entrance of a grand stately home and gracing the crisp frosty morning clad in tweed and surrounded by working spaniels. Well, this would be my whimsical and ideological perception of the shooting lifestyle at any rate. It is amazing how country pursuits such as shooting have become so much more than simply a sporting activity. Shooting represents a lifestyle, it exudes an ethos of freedom, affability and privilege. There is a certain thrill and excitement that surrounds the sport, the rawness of which is not too dissimilar to the likes of fox hunting or riding. Of course there’s also the renowned social side of these activities, I mean, who doesn’t love a Hunt Ball or a post shoot long lunch on the estate. In addition there is something incredibly exhilarating about the open countryside that sets these activities apart from other sports, fresh air after all is good for the soul!

I think it’s this overall atmosphere that adds to the joys of a day’s shooting. It is a means of escape and release from normal life, and in some respects, a form of expression of the self. How we connect with our gun and the bird is not dissimilar to how we may connect with, for example, a beautiful painting. Art opens up new emotions within us and places us within a realm of creativity and inspiration, just as through shooting we are inspired by the countryside, the people and the power of the gun. The skill of an able shooter is a craft that can be learned and perfected, and great joy can be gained from the process involved. It is not just the act of firing a gun but all the additional aspects that make shooting into an art form. It not only brings people together but it connects oneself with the landscape and the natural world.

There is something very timeless about going shooting which I think again is partly related to the disconnection to the outside world or to urban life. Society spends so much time these days gazing at iPhones or lazily trawling social media but when shooting it is like this aspect of modern living doesn’t really exist. The concentration applied to the shot or the distractions of good company detaches us from this, clearing our minds and thus allowing a clear passage for creativity of thought. Shooting in itself can thus be perceived as an art form and a lifestyle. It is so much more than a sporting activity but a philosophy of life that moulds who were are.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Can we Clay All Day?

One of the many benefits of working for London Gun Services is that going for regular days out shooting is a ‘mandatory’ requirement…I’m certainly not complaining. However, I only started working at LGS a month ago and believe it or not had never shot a gun until yesterday! Being the only woman in the office I am a bit of a tomboy and shooting obviously seriously appeals so I was pretty excited to have a go. At around 11am myself, Elliot and LGS Director and former world champion Tom cruised up to A1 Shooting Ground in Barnet in Tom’s rather snazzy Range Rover. Upon arrival we eased into the day with a punchy Italian coffee in the sunshine before heading out to hit up some clays

Tom paired me up with a nice and gentle 20 bore and we started out with some easy left to right crossers. To get me going Tom gave me some useful tips and guided me through the first few shots. Tom and Elliot then showed me how it’s done and completely nailed a straight 25. We then tried out a few other targets including High Pheasants from the Tower which I found a little more challenging...! Tom and Elliot then did a spot of speedy double-gunning and I was on buttoning duty! Finally we did a session shooting decoys which was handy to up my hit ratio! To end the day Tom and Elliot did a round on the Olympic Trap (needless to say I sat this one out, next time!!). This was great fun to watch and I certainly realised what talented shooters the boys are!

Shooting for gold - Tom Ward (LGS Director)

Italy is often highly regarded as a country of innovation, passion, and exuberance which applies not only to its culture but also to its shooting scene. Tom Ward from London Gun Services can certainly be one to vouch for this having just won The Green Cup at Umbria Verde Shooting Complex last week; which is arguably one of the most challenging shooting competitions of all time.

Taking place over 2 days with the grounds located in the ancient town of Todi, which according to the mythical Quirinus Colonus was built by none other than the legendary Hercules! The competition consisted of 125 targets in total, 50 on the first day followed by 75 on the second with an additional 25 targets for the top 6 final.  With over 400 competitors including multiple Olympic medallists, world champions, and world cup medallists, Tom battled through like Hercules himself shooting a total of 45/50 on Day 1 followed by an impressive 74/75 on Day 2 winning him a strong place in the final. The final consisted of 25 targets added to the original scores, where Tom hit a perfect 25 which tied him for the lead with Russia. This resulted in a single barrelled ‘sudden death’ shoot off which after 3 targets crowned Tom as the winner. (Yes I certainly wasn’t the only one who was incredibly impressed!)

Tom trains in Italy regularly and prior to the competition spent 2 days training in Conselice, which is about a 4-hour drive north of Todi. Although in the UK we are lucky enough to have a number of renowned shooting grounds across the country, Tom loves the Italian shooting scene. He prefers the facilities and says that there is a much more diverse mix of professional shooters from around the world. Italy does produce some of the most high-class guns after all! With this in consideration, I imagine there must also be a pretty good social scene and one must admit that the beautiful Italian climate is always a bit of a bonus too!

Conveniently, a couple of days after Tom’s victory at Umbria Verde he had a friend’s wedding in the stunning city of Florence. The wedding went on for 3 days (how very continental) and I think it is safe to say that the Chianti and Montepulciano were more than steadily flowing. Tom, as any well cultured Brit would made sure he brought a taste of Italy home with him: olive oil, local red wine, dreamy. And most importantly he also managed to fit in a spot of well-earned sunbathing by the turquoise pool in his rather exquisite villa, no doubt while sipping an ice cold Aperol Spritz from delicate cut glass and listening to some gentle lounge music – I mean it’s always essential to round off a trip to Italy by embracing la dolce vita!

Squire attire

Aside from the rustic and wild days out shooting, the vigorous repairs or the ferrying around of some seriously high end shotguns LGS is...