The Ian Coley Shooting School is nestled in the Cotswolds, five miles from Cheltenham, and is described as one of the top 10 shooting schools in the UK – catering for beginners and advanced shooters alike, with a range of excellent facilities.
Dubbed one of the top shooting venues in the UK, SoGlos.com sets its sights on the Ian Coley Shooting School near Cheltenham, putting its new Have a Go Day experience to the test.
Growing up in glorious Gloucestershire I’ve always associated the county with English sporting traditions and country pursuits alike, and have been fortunate enough to give everything from rambling and fly fishing to archery and shooting a go over the years.
And while I may now be able to prove my worth at clay shooting stag parties, and secretly think I’m rather a dab hand with a double barrel, never in my wildest dreams would I have realised just how special a clay shooting location Gloucestershire is. Until now.
Situated near Andoversford just off the A436, I spotted the sign for Ian Coley Shooting School and trundled along the private road to find what can only be described as clay shooting heaven. All organically nestled within mature woodland, there was the impressive shooting lodge, refitted in 2011 and including a jaw-dropping gun shop; more than a dozen game stands to shoot from; a huge 120’ tower capable of firing out clays to uniquely simulate birds; a grouse butt and a double trap range – all offering an almost unlimited array of challenging shooting situations for clay and game shooters alike.
Biting my lip and wondering if I may have been a little over-confident, I made my way into the expansive lodge – surprisingly bustling with all sorts of activity for a Thursday morning – to be greeted by my charming, confident and fresh-faced instructor Gary. As we geared up with goggles, ear plugs and caps ready to try out the venue’s new Have a Go Day shooting experience, I was fascinated to hear of Gary’s dedicated 14-year career which included working as a Cotswold gamekeeper, a rifleman in the British Army and now one of Ian Coley Shooting School’s instructors.
Instantly at ease and intoxicated by Gary’s passion for the sport of clay shooting, I was briefed on how to determine my dominant eye, the basics of shotgun handling and the lingo – 12 bore being the most popular choice, but the less powerful 20 bore being great for beginners – as well as safety measures to ensure we’d all make it through the next hour of sporting action.
Ian Coley Shooting School’s new Have a Go Days include professional instruction from Gary or one of his colleagues, with 25 shots over four or five stands to provide a great taster for what the sport entails. And over the next hour Gary escorted me from stand to stand, introducing each one along the way, explaining the kind of game which was typically being replicated by the movement of the clays, and instructing on the best chance of turning the various coloured baked discs into dust with a satisfying pull of the trigger.
With the chance to take on such varied shooting positions, I was taken aback by just how different a challenge each stand presented – from low-flying clays hurdling down a valley and those sharply curling ahead from left to right, to my favourite clays being launched from nowhere out of the trees and flying overhead to mimic pheasants being driven out by the beaters.
While Gary took care of launching the clays at each stand, and all you’ll need to think about on your Have a Go Day is hitting the clays and triumphing over your competitive friends and family, I was intrigued by the venue’s pay-and-pay-style card system allowing qualified and experienced shooters to come along and take advantage of the superb facilities on their own time. As well as the microphone-controlled shooting stands which respond to the command ‘pull’ before launching your next target.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to give clay shooting a go (and who wouldn’t want to at just £15 per person on the Have a Go Days, when you quote ‘SoGlos.com’) or an Olympic hopeful looking to follow in the footsteps of champions trained by the very friendly Ian Coley himself, pay a visit to this sensational Gloucestershire venue which has enjoyed almost 25 years at the top of its game. Just don’t blame us if you catch the bug for this thrilling country pursuit.
By James Fyrne
Friday 02 September 2011
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