As a woman who has her own gun and is married to a shooting instructor, you would think the idea of a day out at the show would be exciting. But if I’m honest, whilst I enjoy an afternoon of clays, I’m not that into shooting. So, I was curious as to whether this show would be like watching paint dry, or if I would enjoy it.
Matt and I set off early from South Wales. When we got there, parking was free and simple, so we were soon inside the show. The show fills Halls 6, 7 and 8. It was busy, but not so overcrowded that you couldn’t relax and look at the exhibitor’s products. I’d say (and this is a complete mathematical guess) around 90% of the visitors to the show were men, but there were many women there too, so I didn’t feel out of place.
We began our visit by making our way to the demonstration arena and sat at a picnic bench to watch Chris Green and his dog Jake do a wildfowling display. I’ve never been wildfowling, so I found it interesting. Chris was funny and Jake listened as much as my spaniel Jess does….as and when it suits them. I enjoyed Chris explaining about how Jake was trained to carry heavy birds, and how hard Jake must work sometimes with tidal change. Ralph Skripek “The Wild Chef” joined Chris in the arena and gave out samples of cooked ‘venison’ the crowd was agreeing how tender it was, and then he surprised them with the fact it was in fact a mature Canadian goose! Ralph also had cooking demonstrations going on all day using different ingredients from the British Countryside.
After Chris’s demonstration we waited a short while to watch Andy Cullen MBE of Laochin Gundogs do a gundog display. It was fab! Andy had bravely decided to bring 4 dogs under 14 months to show us how he trained youngsters. It was a masterclass. I enjoyed it so much we went back later that day to watch it again! The afternoon session was even better as before his demonstration there had been a demonstration on the art of pigeon decoying. This had left feathers and new scents distracting the dogs giving Andy the opportunity to show us how he corrects when training.
Between the dog displays we wandered around the stands. Whilst wandering round in my Ladies Working Dog Group Gilet, I had the opportunity to meet up with some of our members! This was fab and I’m incredibly humbled to get to see you in person.
As expected nearly all stands were gun or gun related. I was really pleased their displays were unbiased in their gender marketing, except one, who felt a girl dressed in Lycra army gear was the best way to get men to their stand… I asked Matt why did he think some companies still do this? Matt said, “it just tells me they have a weak product”. He may have been saying it as he was with his wife, but in reality, he’s probably right.
It was great to see Amber Jo Hill, Team GB Olympian, and BBC sports personality of the year promoting ELEY Hawk Cartridges, accompanied by her incredible Beretta gun. Women like her do so much for encouraging females to take up the sport. I’ve been to the USA, and there the hunting/shooting industry caters for their female customers so well. There are so many pro female shooters setting the trend for female hunters, the industry has a wide range of clothing lines that are tailored to our shape, their products consider our differences in size weight and height. Whilst I don’t think the UK is at the same level yet, we are catching up.
At the show were stands by Sporting Hares, Taylors and co, Muntjac, to name but a few so I had lots of brands I wanted to see as a dog/countryside lover. One of the best finds of the day for us were Kin Toffee Vodka. Due to my epilepsy I’m pretty much tee total, however both Matt and I tried a sample…and bought the biggest bottle to bring home! It’s truly gorgeous – well done Kin!
Other stands I want to mention being in attendance are BASC, The Gamekeepers Welfare Trust, British Game Alliance, and the National GameKeepers Organisation. This was a great opportunity to meet face to face the people behind the associations that work within our industry.
End Of The Day
Both Matt and I really enjoyed the show, Overall, I didn’t get bored looking at guns with Matt, as there was loads of non-gun related products I found interesting too. As it’s not a dog or country show there were far more dog products and ladies’ products than I was personally expecting. I’m sure this will continue to grow each year as female shooting grows.
On the way back to the car I heard people chatting to one another say ‘it’s a bigger show than last year’, ‘there’s more choice’, ‘I really enjoyed the day’. The vibe at the end of the show was most definitely a positive one. After our visit, The Great British Shooting Show will be added to our yearly calendar.
The Ladies Working Dog group has not been sponsored by any of the companies mentioned. The Great British Shooting Show gave us press access to complete this blog, but had no involvement on our review.
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