Posts by Linda Mellor

I am a Pro-photographer and writer, I specialise in the Outdoors and Country Sports sectors. I am based in Fife, Scotland and travel.

Clay shooting this autumn #bepartofit

Autumn is on its way; the light is changing fast and the available daylight is reducing. The temperatures are heading downward but that doesn’t make any difference to our enjoyment of going outdoors and clay shooting, especially with a group of friends. I always associate autumn with colourful hedgerows full of nature’s wild harvest with pheasants mooching around, the shooting dates in my diary and my gun.NSC_PHEASANT

 

In the cooler winter months, you need to put on a few layers of clothing but not too many, you don’t want to go shooting wrapped up in thick layers, and unable to move. If you have had your gun fitted this is one thing you need to be aware of, the layers of clothing will alter the fit. Personally, I don’t like to shoot wearing big thick jackets, whether I am on a peg or a stand I would much prefer to take my coat off and enjoy the freedom of movement because big, outer coats and jackets can be restrictive, and collars can get in the way of putting the gun stock up to your face. If a jacket alters your gun fit there is every chance you won’t be shooting that well because your face will not be on the stock and the gun may feel detached from your body. You certainly will not be seeing the right picture – you will be looking into a different area to where your gun is pointing. When you mount a gun you sit it in tight to your body, it fits into a spot just below your shoulder, you can feel it when it’s right. The gun has been altered to fit you correctly so that when you bring your head down it is one movement. You don’t, or you shouldn’t, have to spent time trying to get it right, and fidgeting with it. Mounting your gun should be a seamless, smooth movement but with thick jackets that will change.

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Many of us a looking at shooting dates in our diaries for a day on the pheasants, and if you haven’t picked up your gun in a while you should get yourself along to the Nation Shooting Centre at Jawcraig, Falkirk. They have a vast choice of stands including simulated game. Ideal for getting yourself back into that familiar zone with your gun.

Clay shooting is one of the sports to be enjoyed by all, 365 days a year. It is ageless, there are no barriers if you are 16 or 80, and you can pick from a wide choice of disciplines to shoot. If you fancy upping your game, the National Shooting Centre regularly hosts competitions. This weekend, it is the All Round Scottish Championships on Sunday 16th September, the event is sponsored by Hull Cartridges and there are lots of money prizes (see poster).NSC_all_round

Join the NSC family #bepartofit

There are many benefits for members including special rates on purchase of slabs of cartridges (7.5% discount on retail), join today!

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Looking for a country hotel for the shooting season?

Meikleour Arms is perfectly located for a day on the grouse at Invercauld or for pheasant shooting in Perthshire, Fife or the Angus Glens.

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Meikleour Arms hotel in January

The hotel, built in 1820, has a selection of well-appointed rooms and five comfortable, modern cottages and a menu selection making the most of the bountiful local estate produce and seasonal wild game.

Stay at Meikleour and enjoy driven or walked up shooting

Meikleour is a great location for shooting grouse on estates like Invercauld

The hotel and estate are also perfect if you are having a day off, and wish to stretch your legs – you can visit the famous Meikleour beech hedge, it recently hit the headlines when owners were faced with a £90,000 bill to trim the highest hedge in the world. 

Perhaps you’d love to visit the V&A in Dundee, an easy trip to make as it is only a 35 minute drive from Meikleour.

A warm welcome, real fires, cosy surroundings, a well-stocked bar and an extensive menu of locally sourced produce are all standard at the Meikleour Arms.

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Meikleour Arms Hotel inside a well appointed bedroom.

You can also fish for salmon on the iconic Tay beats on the Meikleour estate.

Well behaved dogs are welcome.

Meikleour Arms Hotel, Meikleour, Perthshire

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Caledonian Retriever Club Vs Central Scotland Gundog Club, August 2018, Fife.

Interclub gundog challenge took place in Glenrothes, Fife, on Sunday 26th August 2018  with the Caledonian Retriever Club (CRC) competing against Central Scotland Gundog Club (CSGC).

The overall highest scoring handler/dog was CRC member Lawrie Robertson ( wearing his Hillman boots from VenatorPro Ltd) with 7 year old, black Labrador, Izzy,  with 96/100 in the novice event.

The CRC novice team scored 529, the CSGC scored 467. The CRC open team scored 209, and the CSGC scored 261. The winners of the Interclub challenge were The Caledonian Retriever Club, here is a link to their website.

Autumnal changes, new hunting wardrobe?

Over the last two weeks, I have noticed a change in the weather, I have felt the difference in the temperature especially first thing in the morning when it’s been 4 or 5 degrees lower. The air has a fresh quality to it and the light is shortening and sunrise is now creeping in at 06:00.

One of my favourite pieces of clothing for outdoors, shooting and for deer stalking is the Hillman sweater troyer, it is warm and comfortable to wear.  It’s included in what I call, my reliable gear, because it is exactly that, reliable!

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Visit Venator Pro shop, and take advantage of the bargains currently on sale.

 

Me, my Beretta 682 and the NSC92

NSC92_AMYIt can be challenging freeing up time outside our working lives to focus on ourselves, and it is something I am guilty of. I spend my working life on shoot grounds, country estates, rivers, boats, and lochs but rarely do I allow myself the time to fish, stalk, or shoot. However, last week, I took my Beretta 682 out of the gun cabinet and headed to the National Shooting Centre at Slamannan near Falkirk, Scotland.

Over the last two or three years I have shot very little (can count on a few fingers!), but after my first visit to the NSC92, when I was working on a magazine feature, the ground and the people inspired me to set aside some ‘me-time’ to go shooting.

I live on the coast in Fife, and it took me less than an hour to reach the ground near Slamannan, it is within easy reach from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and only just over an hour from Perth. It’s spacious with plenty parking, a modern clubhouse and good coffee (always important!). Amy on the front desk is welcoming and helpful, and resident professional clay shot, and manager, Stewart Cumming, is always on hand to help. You see, it’s these little details that create the right first impressions, and if you are on your own they are actually very significant to your enjoyment of the venue, just ask any lady travelling alone to shoot grounds.NSC92_CLAYMATE_PROMATIC

After a coffee, Stewart gave me two boxes of cartridges and we walked over the DTL stand opposite the clubhouse. The stand is well laid out, and the surrounding bushes give you privacy to shoot without attracting an uninvited audience – there’s nothing worse, and it is very off-putting! There’s also a seated area next to the Promatic Claymate, a top of the range clay delivery and recording system.  Stewart talked me through using the system: it’s very straightforward and easy to use. The light comes on when you are on the stand, call for the targets, shoot five clays, move to the next stand, and the light comes on and shoot five more, etc., It was an impressive and a highly reliable system, I had zero ‘no birds’ and no broken clays, and my clay usage was recorded and waiting at the clubhouse when I finished.

I can’t say I was impressed by my shooting though! It’s been so long since I last picked up my gun, and although there was high degree of familiarity with my gun, the excitement of being out shooting again was robbing me of my focus, and I forgot to do my pre-shot routine so I had to reign myself back in. Much better to start well than apply damage limitation when I was already into my shooting session.NSC92_BERETTA_682_TRAP_GUN

If you have felt the same way about your shooting (or fancy trying shooting) there is an answer to the problem – join the National Shooting Centre as a member. One of the benefits of NSC membership (only £75) is a free lesson with Stewart: one of Scotland’s most successful shots. He’s shot every type of target, unravelled longstanding shooter issues, and won countless competitions on the home and international circuit.

Shooting ground – National Shooting Centre

Shotgun – Beretta 682 32″ Trap 12 bore

Watch – Brazen Sports

Are your shooting skills good enough?

National Shooting Centre Scotland

National Shooting Centre Scotland

The game shooting dates have been in the diary since earlier in the year, your shotgun is clean and oiled, your shooting gear is hanging in the wardrobe ready to wear but are you feeling confident about your shooting abilities?

Oh dear….

It’s normal to feel excited when the game day approaches, but, be honest, is it truly excitement you are sensing about having a day out on an estate with your friends or is it a gnawing niggle about your standard of shooting or a worry about your lack of confidence? Perhaps you finished last season on a less than positive note, happy to put your gun away and forget about the missed shots?

Be realistic!

If your shooting did not give you a good feeling last year it is not miraculously going to improve this season if you’ve done nothing about it.

Consider…

On a game day there’s often banter and leg pulling amongst your fellow guns. The keeper, beaters and picker-ups will be watching, a photographer may be taking pictures, and partners and spouses may be observing. We’ve all seen the shooting guest dancing about on the peg, making excuses, not knowing what to do or how to select the best bird to shoot then missing. What if you are on the ‘hot’ peg? Are you equipped with the necessary shooting skills to knock ‘em down? You’re on a stage, and in full view, so if you consistently fluff your shots you’d better brace yourself for a day of embarrassment.

Hmm…

If you are going onto the field feeling unsure about your ability to shoot well there is a high probability your day will not the best. If you think you are going to miss, then you probably will. We all know someone who’ll turn up on a game day and be the butt of all the jokes because of their poor shooting, don’t be that person! You can build your confidence and go into the shoot day knowing how to shoot well and deal with challenging birds

A collection of used shotgun cartridges

A collection of used shotgun cartridges, NSC, Scotland

Get on target with the National Shooting Centre!  National Shooting Centre – Scotland, Wester Jawcraig, Falkirk FK1 3AL

The National Shooting Centre (NSC92) welcomes beginner, novice and experienced shots, their on-site Professional Shooting Coach is Stewart Cumming, a seasoned game shot and a top class clay shooter. If you want to make the most of your game day then Stewart will iron out any niggles, check your gun-fit, pass on invaluable tips and advice and build your confidence to shoot well.

Stewart Cumming, top clay shooter and professional shotgun coach, National Shooting Centre, Scotland

Stewart Cumming, top clay shooter and professional shotgun coach, National Shooting Centre, Scotland

NSC92 have an extensive range of shooting stands and simulated game drives to give you the full game shooting experience with clay targets over their extensive moorland location.

Become a NSC92 member and enjoy many exclusive benefits and generous deals.

Open Tuesday – Sunday, from 10am – 5pm, on Thursday’s you may shoot up to 8pm.

P.S.

Game shooting is a big day out, and also expensive, so invest in your shooting by visiting the NSC92 and book a lesson with Stewart. It will be money well spent, buying you the ability to shoot well. Remember, shooting with confidence treats the game birds respect.

Shotgun coach and National Shooting Centre Manager, Stewart Cumming looking out across the scenic open moorland from one of the clay shooting stands.

Shotgun coach and National Shooting Centre Manager, Stewart Cumming looking out across the scenic open moorland from one of the clay shooting stands.

‘Country sports – evolve to survive’ my regular column for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association.

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Visit website to join and enjoy the many benefits of membership.