Alan Paine Blog

  • My visit to The Game Fair by Claire Wright

     

    My visit to The Game Fair

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    One of the highlights of the summer calendar for me has always been The Game Fair. For the last eight years I have camped on site with friends, which is the finest way to experience multiple days at the show. It is worth staying under canvas for a few nights to beat the traffic! We arrived on Thursday afternoon which gave us plenty of time to pitch the tents and then enjoy a barbecue. There is a wonderful atmosphere on site as you are with kindred spirits from the field sports family even if the weather was far from kind.

     

    There is so much to see and do that it takes military precision to make sure you don’t miss out. The wild fowling display in the main arena by Chris Green was both entertaining and informative. You couldn’t help but be carried away by his enthusiasm for a niche area of shooting activity. The Game Fair theatre had lots going on too with many debates including one on bias against field sports within the BBC. Meanwhile famous chefs in the cookery zone were showing how to dress and cook roe deer or wild boar.

     

    There is always an emphasis on trying new activities no matter what age you are. The queues at the instruction stands run by BASC, CPSA and others down at the clay lines were testament to the continued interest in getting into shooting sports. A youngster in our party had great fun trying her inexperienced cocker spaniel in the ‘have a go’ scurry competitions. If you were after something different from shooting then you could take a fly fishing lesson down on the river or meet the foxhounds in the main arena. A highlight for me was the demonstration from Dartmoor Hawking who use retrained racehorses for mounted falconry.

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    This was also a great opportunity to go shopping with most of the major firms represented.  There was a chance to buy things you knew you needed and quite a few items that you didn’t know you needed until you saw them! I fell in love with a beautiful, English leather cartridge bag on the Croots stand and it is now hanging on my pegs at home awaiting some new shooting adventures. Gunmaker’s Row held a new fascination for me this year although I left feeling overwhelmed by the choice of shotguns on offer! Luckily, I have plenty of time to make a decision!

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    All of this dashing about can leave you exhausted so it is important to refuel; unlike some country events there is a fine array of British produce on offer in the Totally Food area. No need to have a greasy cash and carry burger here! Our favourite was the pheasant goujons and wraps on offer, but you could tuck into cheese, pies, charcuterie or just have a liquid lunch of gin and cider!

     

    If you have never been to The Game Fair before or it has been some years since your last visit then I hope that you will consider coming to the greatest celebration of country sports in 2018. Oh, and if you decide to join us on the campsite do drop by for a gin!

  • My Shooting Journey Part 3 by Claire Wright

     

    My Shooting Journey Part 3

    My Shooting Journey

    I have had a very busy and a very sporting weekend. It started by joining the Fitzwilliam (Milton) Hunt for hound exercise on bicycles from the kennels. There is something entirely magical about being up and about early in the morning to take the pack out in the beautiful countryside close to where they are kennelled. After re-fuelling with a much needed bacon roll it was time to set off for home. The plan was to have a quick shower and then head over to Cambridge Gun Club for my shooting lesson with Mike Williams. The estate sheep flock had other ideas as they had re-enacted the great escape by breaking out of their field and I ended up getting hot and bothered helping to coral them back into their paddock before making my lesson by the skin of my teeth!

    Being the first Saturday of the school holidays it was relatively quiet at the club, this gave us the chance to go and have a play on the skeet range. I was somewhat apprehensive as the last time Mike and I had ventured onto this part of the ground I had scored in Eurovision parlance ‘null points’. After a bit of a false start I was soon hitting some clays at various stations; a massive improvement in technique and confidence. We finished off with a trip to the sporting stand to practise some rabbits and crossers. Whilst my overall lack of experience often shows through it is also clear that I am making huge strides forward with my consistency and accuracy in hitting the clays bang in the centre so I went home well pleased with how things had gone.

    I spent Sunday at the Holkham Country Fair in Norfolk.  Unfortunately, as I was working on the CLA stand, I wasn’t able to get down to the clay lines but it was heartening to see many youngsters being introduced to target sports at the air rifle range as well as the levels of interest in the gun dog training demonstrations in the main arena.

    In other news I have now managed to purchase a second hand gun cabinet and to send off my application for a shotgun certificate. There is approximately a three month wait in Cambridgeshire so everything being well I could be buying myself a rather expensive birthday present! I am off to the Game Fair at Hatfield House next weekend so I am looking forward to having a sniff down Gunmakers’ Row and start my search for the perfect partner.

  • My Shooting Journey Part 2 by Claire Wright

     

    My Shooting Journey Part 2

    My Shooting Journey

    On Sunday I was at Cambridge Gun Club for my regular lesson under the expert tutoring of their Instructor, Mike Williams. We started with rabbits to get my eye in and I surprised myself by managing to smash the first clay; this success was repeated on eight more clays – a feat that had hitherto never been achieved by me in any session! It felt as if the skills I had been gradually building during the past few lessons had all clicked into place and it began to feel natural. Up until this point I think it was fair to describe my shooting performance as patchy!

    We moved rapidly onto teal and then crossers from both the right and the left. A few clays were missed but for once I was hitting more than passed by unscathed! The final challenge for this session was to tackle a right to left crossing bird followed by a teal on report. With one false start I was soon even nailing these. By this point it was hard to tell who was more pleased by this success – Mike who had finally seen the fruits of his patience or me feeling that at last I had make giant strides forward in my shooting career. We both returned to the club house with huge grins on our faces.

    So, what was different about this lesson? I was wearing my usual clothes, I was shooting the same Beretta 20 bore that I usually used, I hadn’t had my Weetabix for breakfast and I wasn’t shooting different layouts. The conclusion that we came to was that I had finally repaired my dented confidence and relaxed with the gun enough to focus exclusively on getting the method correct. The results and the fallen clays speak for themselves.

    The major difference between my lessons with Mike and my lessons with other coaches has been defined by Mike’s patience – even when I am shooting appallingly he has never once got frustrated with me; If I don’t grasp something he simply explains it another way until I do understand. Unlike some coaches he has never resorted to shouting the same instruction louder in a vain hope that additional volume will help rectify the situation! He is always willing to answer questions about shotguns and shooting no matter how dim they must seem to an experienced shot. We also have enormous amounts of fun, I’m sure the other guns at the ground must wonder about the levels of hilarity on whichever stand we happen to be working on!

    One thing is for certain is that I have some important paperwork to complete and return to our local Firearms licensing department...which will hopefully be followed in due course by a major shopping expedition!

  • My Shooting Journey by Claire Wright

     

    My Shooting Journey

    My Shooting Journey

    My first experience of shooting clays with a shotgun came courtesy of a Range Day with the Territorial Army; having spent all morning firing my SA80 personal weapon I was handed a badly fitting over and under twelve bore and a box of cartridges with an unsuitable load. Like many women this ended up being a miserable introduction to shotguns thanks to the resulting huge recoil which sent me flying and hurt my shoulder. Needless to say I didn’t hit any of the targets!

    Many years later a friend who was mad keen on shooting encouraged me to give it another go with a smaller bore and smaller load; however I still struggled to make contact with many of the clays. Undeterred I persisted with more lessons as time allowed. I finally got involved with the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club where I improved moderately but never seemed to set the world on light!

    It is very easy to feel disheartened when everyone seems to be progressing at lightning speed, knocking down clays like it is no effort while you struggle to make sense of instructions that should be simple. At one session the coach was so desperate for me to hit something that he resorted to shouting ‘Bang!’ when he wanted me to pull the trigger! I left having achieved nothing.

    I was feeling pretty down and on the brink of giving up with shooting when I decided to give it one last try with a Bun Club day at my local Shooting Club in Cottenham. I had the good luck to be paired with a highly experienced club instructor, Mike Williams who specialises in problems with eye dominance. It turned out that of the five ladies under his tutelage we all suffered from a condition known as central eye dominance where neither the right nor the left eye is dominant. This condition is only exacerbated by working in front of a computer screen on a daily basis. This problem can be easily corrected at the most basic level with a piece of tape stuck on your shooting glasses. It was a revelation as I managed to knock down clays easily and finished with my best score card in years. I was literally on cloud nine as I left the shooting ground.

    A year later and I have regular lessons with Mike at the club as well as attending Bun Club days when time allows and I’ve swapped the piece of sticky tape for a RedEye dominance corrector, which makes me look far more professional than I feel!  My shooting has really come on in leaps and bounds and I even managed to attend (and not disgrace myself) at my first driven shoot back in January.

    Over the years I must have had lessons with twenty or more instructors, some were dreadful, some mediocre and a couple were brilliant. Don’t be afraid to change instructors if their style or manner isn’t working for you. Shooting is after all supposed to be fun and if you aren’t enjoying yourself then it may just be time for a swap!

  • National Ladies Shooting Day 2017 - it's all about the cake! by Lucy Sillars

     

    National Ladies Shooting Day 2017 - it's all about the cake!

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    As with anything you've been looking forward to, when the big day arrives it all goes too quickly.

    Saturday started with the familiar butterfly nerves, getting ready with one eye on all the #NLSD2017 messages flowing through on social media (jealous to see so much sunshine while up in North Yorkshire the forecast rain lashed down).

     

    NLSD 5

    Picking up my friends (who before NLSD hadn't so much as picked up a gun), a flurry of excitement met us on arrival at Hazel Bank Shooting ground. A throng of forty ladies all trying to contain nerves, catch up and find out which group they were in.

    I'd been placed in the experienced group (gulp!). I booked my #NLSD2017 place as a beginner in December, in mid-February, I shot at Hazel Bank as an intermediate and now I'm experienced? As I've been spending my recent Wednesday evenings feeling like the biggest novice, it was an amusing upgrade. I needn't have worried, my group had several familiar faces and my past few weeks of league nights certainly helped me with the stands we faced.

    Shooting in a group is great fun, shooting in a bun club group is just brilliant. The banter and camaraderie as each of us takes our turn is fantastic. Even though technically we are competing against each other for a prize, there is nothing but support and encouragement. As befits the "experienced" group, our 5 stands had a mix of challenging clays. Nothing super easy, but nothing we couldn't hit at least once each.

     

    The bouts of rain didn't help but also didn't dampen spirits. I decided to wear my Alan Paine Compton jacket. The collar closes right up to keep out of the way when shooting, and it has plenty of handy pockets to distribute my bits and bobs so I could go bagless round the stands. Then shooting over, a quick change into my Aylsham gilet & I was ready for tea and medals.

    The S&CBC cake rosettes are more hotly contested than the shooting! Across the country, confections of amazing technical wizardry were displayed, tasted and judged. At Hazel bank, we had a myriad of chocolate and fruit creations, with a devilish rocky road winning the treasured rosette and my friend Amy's Pimm's fruit cake coming a deserved second.

     

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    My score of 27/50 was topped by a 30/50, so no winner's rosette this time, but plenty more to aim for in the future. Sadly, no best dressed prize either, maybe because I did manage to wipe my muddy gun slip across my knee at some point spoiling things slightly (I don't need a toddler to get mucky it would appear).

    My friends really enjoyed their day. Both had found the gun heavy, which isn't surprising for their first time. But both are keen to come again - result!

    I'm now looking at the S&CBC website and planning our next trip out with the bun club girls!

    Thank you for reading my posts, hope you've enjoyed them.

    Lucy x

     

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here https://lucyofalltrades.co.uk/

  • Shooting in the rain for NLSD2017??? by Lucy Sillars

    Shooting in the rain for NLSD2017???

     

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    June - you need to have a word with yourself, where has summer gone?

    This time last week I was worrying over whether it would be too hot to wear my new Aylsham gilet for National Ladies Shooting day on Saturday 10 June. Now it's more a case of what will keep me dry while still looking as stylish as possible.

    Shooting in the rain is no fun. Shooting in the rain, feeling uncomfortable/cold/wet is awful! Having left it far too late to order anything new, I am stuck between wearing my tweed shooting jacket and borrowing an old shooting coat from my husband:

     

     

     

     

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    Tweed Shooting Jacket:

    I've had my Alan Paine Compton Shooting Jacket for 7 years, but apart from the colourway not being in current stock you can barely tell it's not new. And this is after A LOT of wear chasing after 2 small boys. As a day to day coat it's pretty useful, lots of pockets, waterproof and warm. However therein lies my concern, I usually wear this jacket in the autumn and winter. Even in the rain, it's June, so if I wear my new gilet under the jacket I'm going to boil shooting. Feeling hot and sweaty isn't going to help my aim much. Equally I will need to take it off for the tea, cake and prize giving afterwards and I do then want to have my new gilet on and not look too bedraggled.

     

     

     

    Old Borrowed Shooting Coat

    My husband's shooting coat is in a thinner fabric so I can wear my gilet underneath. Yay!

    However, I will look like a scruffy hobbit while I'm wearing it. Nay!

     

    Alan Paine Berwick Ladies Waterproof CoatOrdinarily clay shooting isn't a catwalk, but this is National Ladies Shooting day - with a (fun) prize for the best dressed lady. While I don't think I have a chance at winning, I do feel I've got to make an effort. (I do see that this is not the worst problem I could have today).

    What I should have done was to order myself a new thinner shooting jacket of my own before now. Something like the Alan Paine Berwick Ladies Shooting coat, which has handy zips inside to enable you to zip in the Aylsham gilet, without adding too much bulk. It's at times like these when I kick my procrastinating self for not getting my act together and sorting all this out sooner!

    I may just have to take all options down with me on the day and do some swift changing in the car park!

     

    At least my shooting seems to still be going in the right direction. This week's league night was away at Marne Shooting Club. On a wide mix of clays, I managed 13/25 which I'm pleased with. Some of my misses were down to inexperience, others to losing concentration and just not focusing my mind before calling "pull". This is why getting my outfit planned out before Saturday morning is important (to me at least), one less thing to get in my headspace when I'm trying to slay that clay!

    Wish me luck!

    Lucy x

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here https://lucyofalltrades.co.uk/

  • What to Wear to NLSD2017? by Lucy Sillars

     

    Signs of improvement...!

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    "Sun's out, gun's out" so they say all over Instagram (usually when I can't get out myself).

    This week it has been shining on me: by actually shining (extraordinary for a school holiday), having a willing (and free) babysitter in my wonderful mum staying for a few days enabling me to get out to shoot. And finally, seeing tangible improvement in my shooting on the Thimbleby league night.

    On the 5 home stands where I have twice previously scored 9/25, this time I managed a whopping 14/25!

    The driven stand still eludes me. These clays shoot fast & high over your head so that you are forced to pull through them and fire with your gun blocking your view of the clay. I managed to hit one of them but not entirely sure how. It does feel good to smash any clay but hitting a tough clay by luck rather than skill does feel a little like cheating to me. On the other stands, I felt much more confident in how to shoot the targets, and with the 2017 National Ladies Shooting Day looming, I am hoping this run can continue at least until 10 June.

    With the shooting going in the right direction. My attention is turning to another very important concern - What to Wear to NLSD2017?

    For normal clay shooting, comfort is key. I'm still a novice and haven't really started to amass much "kit" yet. I've been shooting up to now in wellies or walking shoes (flat shoes are better for balance and most clay grounds are gravelled) and an old gilet. However, at NLSD17 there will be a (fun) "best dressed" competition at each ground. With so many fabulous ladies (and cakes) attending, I feel I should really try to make a bit of an effort.

    Handily Alan Paine have come to my rescue with one of their fab Aylsham fleece gilets which will significantly smarten up my usual attire. I am now torn between hoping for the sun to stay or cloud to return so I can wear it along with some new pink shooting socks and boots.

    I am taking two friends to Hazel bank for NLSD2017, neither have held a gun before let alone shoot one. My clothing advice for them is going to be simple:

    Dress for the weather obviously but also keep in mind you will need to be able to move your arms above your head. Don't have anything too bulky around your neck or shoulders which will get in the way of the gun. The Hull 21g Comp X cartridges which will be provided at each ground have very little recoil so you don't need to have anything too padded on your shoulder. All ear & eye protection will be provided (if you don't have your own) as well as some gorgeous navy caps provided by sponsor Hull Cartridges (falling clay fragments can hurt).

    One more week before 10 June & I have our village show's annual clay competition as well as an away league night to get some practise in. Hopefully the sun will keep shining!

    Bye for now

    Lucy x

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here https://lucyofalltrades.co.uk/

  • Bad habits & finding it does help if the gun fits you by Lucy Sillars

    Shooting ClaysAfter a frustrating practise where I couldn't hit a barn door, on Wednesday afternoon I met up with one of the Thimbleby instructors for a much-needed lesson.

    Adrian's theory was I had either picked up some bad habits or had gun fit issues (or both). He wanted to go right back to the beginning & take me through a CPSA first lesson plan. This involves several steps before going near the clay stands. Most points were thankfully not new to me but a refresher on gun safety is never going to be a waste of time. We moved on to mounting the gun into my shoulder and the problems began to appear:

     

    Firstly, my gun stock (the wooden end) was too low meaning I couldn't see any of the rib (the top edge of the barrel), just the bead at the end. A 5mm comb raiser pad on the stock solved this quickly (if not exactly elegantly).

    The next issue? A tilted gun. On mounting, I wasn't putting my head over the gun enough so the barrels were slanted over to the left. (They should be an upright figure of eight). It's made me realise I've been lazy up to now. I haven't really done any practise dry mounting and I need to start.

    Finally, we got to the clay stand but without the gun. Adrian apologised he was about to waste a few of my clays. I pointed out that if I didn't get sorted out I was just going to waste a lot more and cartridges on top! Adrian started me on the "Pull Away" technique for shooting - get onto the target, track it for a beat then pull ahead and fire. It was here that my next bad habit was picked up on. Instead of looking at the clay, I've been looking at the bead on the end of the gun and trying to line it up with the target. I am therefore not giving myself enough time to see the clay as it comes into view.

    Putting all three together, I then managed some success on the training ground clays. After the last few weeks of patchy results on the faster targets, it felt fantastic to be consistently smashing some! But then all too soon it was time to get back to the real world and the school run.

    Back that night to Thimbleby for a league night in the rain (hence no pictures as too busy trying not to get my gun too wet!). With this added complication & trying to remember to follow my new techniques, the shots I did hit, I felt I'd "got" them rather than just being lucky. So, while no immediate improvement in my score (9/25), I feel a lot more confident in what I'm doing. Time to get practising!

    Bye for now Lucy x

    NB: I do realise what I've had is not a "professional gun fitting" which I will consider once I've got some further practise under my belt

     

    If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here https://lucyofalltrades.co.uk/

  • I hit the Bumblebee! (but I have a long way to go...) by Lucy Sillars

     

    IMG_9081My first "Away" league match was this Wednesday at the Duke of Wellington shooting club. Feeling a little apprehensive at shooting somewhere completely new, I decided to go for a quick practise before school pick up. This was both a good and bad idea. Good in that I felt much better on some of the slower clays, picking them up and getting the lead right. Bad in that I realised that on the faster clays, I'm just not there yet. And the clays on that evening were going to be fast!

    I did get a great piece of advice- "practice makes perfect, but only if you practice perfectly" (thanks Adrian). On the faster clays, I'm just snatching at them and to be honest wasting cartridges. I need to get my technique right on the slower clays first, and work up to the quicker ones.

    That said, as I'm signed up to the league I can't stop now!

    So, new ground, but thankfully many more familiar faces this time (including a fellow Bun Clubber Amy Fair). The lay out was 4 stands, 3 pairs at each and a "bumblebee" on the last stand. Up to now I have only shot "on report" - the second clay only coming once you have fired at the first. I'd never even practised shooting a pair of clays. This slightly threw me on the first stand (two quick right to left) and I came out with a 0/6. Undeterred, I managed a 1/6 on the R-L rabbit and L-R crosser (I need to practise rabbits!). The third stand was up on a tower with a pair going away from you into trees but also into the sun. How I managed to hit 3/6 I do not know.

    IMG_9088The final stand had a fairly normal pair, preceded by a fast left to right teal which you could use both barrels on. The clay was a mini (60mm) "bumblebee" and pretty hard to spot. Suffice to say I didn't even see the first one whizz past but they kindly let me have another go. On my second attempt, I'm not sure I saw the clay or was aiming at a midge, but I hit it with my second barrel! I ended my shoot with a right and left (don't mention the two before it) which felt fantastic and an overall 7/25. I'm happy with that score; I'm only at the start of all of this and so much more to learn.

    It's a home shoot next week so back on more familiar clays (still the quick ones) and with some further work on my technique in the meantime, I'm hoping to improve on last week's 9/25!

    Lucy x

      If you would like to read more from Lucy you can find her blog page here https://lucyofalltrades.co.uk/

  • Mens Spring & Summer Picks

     

    It can be tricky getting the clothing balance right when Spring arrives; one minute the sun puts in an appearance and for an instant you're bathed in warm rays, the next moment it's clouded over and it's a little chilly.

    We think layers are the best solution, and we have the perfect selection for you.

    Alan Paine Aylsham Fleeces

    Why not start off with one of our pure cotton, minimal iron country shirts? There's a great choice of check colourways on offer so you can co-ordinate your next layer as you wish. Alternatively we have a wide choice of cotton polo shirts in a vast array of colours or lightweight stylish long sleeve polo shirts in a choice of a sumptuous blend of cotton, silk and cashmere or a cool linen cotton mix.

    Shirt 2 Mens Polo Shirts

     

    You're then going to need one of our new lightweight jumpers. Our new lightweight knits in a luxurious blend of soft Pima cotton, silk and cashmere are the essential layering pieces for your smart, cool wardrobe. In a range of classic and on-trend colours and available in a variety of styles, these knits look just as smart paired with jeans and trainers as they do with sharp trousers and shoes. And, while you're at it, take a look at our best-selling cotton cashmere range.

    Aylsham Mens Fleece Gilets

     

    You could also try one of our popular Aylsham fleece waistcoats or jackets. Perfect for when there's a nip in the air or the temperature drops on a Spring evening.

     

    That's you Spring ready!

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