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Going Great Guns

PUBLISHED: 15:02 09 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:15 20 February 2013

Going Great Guns

Going Great Guns

Despite the recession, Cotswold shoots are continuing to thrive

Despite the recession, Cotswold shoots are continuing to thrive


Like it or not the Sport of Kings has been an integral part of our rural communities for hundreds of years, offering 1.6billion to the UK economy, supporting the equivalent of 70,000 full time jobs and actively managing two million hectares for conservation. But what is the future for game shooting?

Due to the economic downturn there have been growing concern that the sport of shooting would suffer adverse effects, however, a recent survey of shoot owners, conducted by leading rural property consultancy Smiths Gore and leading website-based sporting brokers GunsOnPegs, revealed that the majority were optimistic about the present season and have been able to counteract the economic climate and continue vital conservation work.

"As a sporting agency we have seen an increase of 20 per cent in bookings since this time last year," says Edward Darbishire, Sporting Agent from Ian Coley Sporting, "and we are still getting enquires daily for both full team days and individual guns. The shooting school where we gain some of our interest in game shooting is up 100 per cent since last year, and gun sales are up 35 per cent. The Cotswolds is currently a very healthy place for shooting and demand is very high."

Over 40 per cent of the commercial shoots are more optimistic about their potential success this season, which is a vast improvement from 12 per cent in 2009 but down on the 57 per cent who said they were more optimistic in 2010. However the number of shoots that are less optimistic has risen from five per cent in 2010 to 19 per cent.

Around 11 per cent of shoots will be putting down fewer birds this year compared with four per cent last year; this is more evidence that some shoots, especially commercial ones, are still trying to adapt to the more challenging economic circumstances they face.

A third of the commercial shoots reported that they have more bookings. Although this figure is slightly down on the 43 per cent of shoots in 2010, this could be explained by the major drop suffered by the industry in 2009 indicating that commercial shoots have been playing catch up for the last two seasons. Only 11 per cent reported a fall and over half the shoots surveyed reported that bookings are about the same.

James Horne, managing director of GunsOnPegs, says, "We have seen a considerable increase in activity on our website since 2010 with over 750 shoots advertising days and guns available for this season. With over 26,000 members, bookings have been strong over the summer period and we are confident the unsold days remaining now are lower than this time last year."

None of the shoots surveyed intend to reduce their charges this season. This demonstrates an increase in confidence from 2009 when 12 per cent of the shoots surveyed indicated that they would be prepared to reduce charges.

David Steel, Head of Sporting at Smiths Gore, comments, "Now that confidence has risen, commercial shoots are recouping their losses and growing their business. Many have come to terms with the need to tighten their belts and have acted accordingly. This is a positive indication of optimism for the sport given the tough time experienced by many in the last couple of years.

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