I'm not a competitive clay shot and have always seen clays as a means by which to test guns, practise tricky shots and retain muscle memory out of season.
Simulated clay days have caused me to re-think my attitude to clays, I am beginning to think they offer a real alternative to live game shooting. I don't think they will replace it but if you can't afford to shoot twenty five 250 bird days every season, simulated days get you the trigger time you need to make sure you are on song when quarry is the real thing.
It is no coincidence that the best game shots tend to be the chaps who do the most game shooting. You get good at what you do. I notice my shooting 'goes off' when I reduce the amount I'm doing and now my game shooting is much reducd in numbers, I need to make sure I practise my muscle memory, swing and sight pictures, so when I do face a live bird, I'm ready for it.
There are some very good firms organising simulated shooting now, Criddle Fieldsports and Truly Simulated spring to mind. I have shot with both and enjoyed the days enormously.
A good simulated day mirrors the real day. It is not just a case of throwing a million clays in the air, it tries to provide a drive as close to an actual game bird drive as possible, with good numbers of clays but some waiting and anticipation and the need to select your 'birds' and those of your fellow Guns.
If you have a gun to test or try, a 'sim-day' is ideal, as it provides ample shooting of a realistic kind and if your gun performs on that and suits you, it will do so on a genuine pheasant or grouse shoot.
If you haven't tried simulated game shooting yet, I heartily recommend it. A top class grouse day can easily cost £3,500 but a 'sim-day' in the butts will provide very similar shooting for about £275. The catering and hospitality is on parr.
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