The British Shooting Show 2017
The 2017 show season kicked off with the British Shooting Show at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Firmly established as premier event on the calendar the British Shooting Show was not to be missed if, like me, you’re interested in anything that is measured in calibre, has a trigger or can be mounted or attached to any type of gun. However, you don’t need to be an all out shooting enthusiast to appreciate and enjoy a day, or the weekend, at the British Shooting Show. I did speak to a gentleman who had no interest in guns or shooting, what so ever, which sounds rather strange on the face of it, but he was an extremely keen wildlife film maker/photographer and was there to view, and hopefully purchase something from the vast range of night vision and thermal imaging devices that were available.
The Spectacle of the Show
For the visitors, the show experience began before they stepped foot through the doors. On arrival you walk to the main entrance through an avenue of Izuzu pick-ups and SUVs. The re-vamped ticket desk was adorned with a five metre led screen welcoming everyone into the main reception, sponsored by Swarovski Optics, before the sensory onslaught of the show truly begins.
I can remember the first time I walked through the double doors into Gunmaker’s Hall 2, the first of the five massive halls, as a show visitor back in 2016, and I’m sure I could still hear the noise of my jaw hitting the floor resonating around the cavernous expanse of Hall 2 when we arrived for build up this year. Even for those who are seasoned BSS veterans, walking into the show is still a sight to behold. Immediately in front of you are the most stunning exhibition stands towering into the roof space with subtle lighting illuminating the most exquisite hunting rifles, shotguns optics and accessories the industry has to offer – Blaser, Browning, Westley Richards, Boss, Schmidt & Bender, Swarovski, Leika, Carl Zeiss, Watson Brothers, Fausti, E. J. Churchill, Longthorne Gunmakers, Boxall & Edmiston, the list just goes on and on. For the first time visitor the impact is immediate! The British Shooting show is unlike anything else the UK has to offer!
Something very noticeable at this year’s show was the number of children attending. If you are fifteen or under and accompanied by an adult, entry to the British Shooting show is free and this is something that the show organisers are very passionate about. Potentially, the youngsters and young shooters at the show are the future of the industry. They’re the next generation of gun designers, makers, gamekeepers and there could have even been one of our future Olympic medal winners taking inspiration and advice from the GB Olympic shooters and Laporte sponsored shooters who were on the British Shooting and Laporte stands.
It’s not just guns at the British Shooting Show; there is also an extensive range of hunting and country clothing and footwear. Whether you need suitable appeal for a day on peg or if you need to blend seamlessly into the background with some high quality camo, it was all there. I have to admit that my head was turned by a bespoke country clothing maker called Maude & Fox. They describe it as “tweed with a twist” and I have to admit that the 2017/18 season might very well see me measured for some breeks and a waistcoat.
The range of clothing and footwear covered all budgets and shooting scenarios – Browning, KUIU, Percussion, Fjallraven, Harkila, Seeland, Ratcatcher … there I go again! Let’s just say that there were more brands to choose from than you could poke a fine hand-made shooting stick at.
Consistent precision, accuracy and a clean kill are what all target shooters and hunters strive for with every single shot. More sportsmen and women are going down the road of custom made rifles. They are choosing their stock, action, barrel, etc., even down to the custom paint job or hydro dip. Danny Ryan of Staffordshire Synthetic Stocks donated a Triple S A5 stock that had been given a custom airbrush by Prestige Custom Coatings. This one-off stock was available to win at the show. Danny also has a display of Border Barrels on the stand that he is able to bed into one of his stocks. As well as all the available custom rifle components there was also a large selection of bullets, brass, propellant and presses for all the home loaders.
An aspect of the show that saw significant expansion for 2017 was the gamekeeping area. With sponsorship from the National Gamekeeper’s Organisation, (NGO), and Countryman’s Weekly the Gamekeeping Hall was enlarged by 100% and made up from an eclectic mix of beautiful hand-made game shooting accessories through to trapping, wildlife management and conservation. With an emphasis on under 16’s having free entry to the show the organisers were keen to have an educational feel to the Gamekeeping Hall and not only were there the usual captivating demonstrations in the main arena from Andy Cullen MBE – one of the UK’s leading gundog trainers. Andy’s demonstrations offer guidance and a structured training method that suits beginners with their first gundog through to the experienced picker up who want to fine tune their skills.
Chris Green – The Cornish Countryman has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to wildfowling and pigeon shooting. His demonstrations are overflowing with entertainment. If you’ve not seen any of his DVD’s, and I’m sure he has over thirty available, then order yourself some, sit back and watch Chris doing what he does best.
Ralph Skripek – thanks to celebrity chefs such as Ralph demonstrating the preparation and cooking of game there has been a massive surge in the sale of game meat, and in particular venison, (sales of game topped £100 million in 2016). Ralph’s demonstrations are always tantalisingly mouth watering. For those who were lucky enough to watch his demonstration on how to prepare a deer carcass and had never seen that process before, it was fascinating. I say lucky enough because I arrived a couple of minutes into the demonstration and the gathered crowd was literally six deep.
There was also the opportunity for those young people who are nearing school leaving age and thinking about a career in the countryside to speak directly to four of the largest agricultural colleges and institutions of further education in the country.
Staying with the young shooters, there was something new on the BSA stand that I really liked – The BSA Ultra with a junior stock. What BSA has done is take the action out of an Ultra set it in the factory to 6.5 ft lb and bedded it into a genuine junior stock. What a fantastic way to introduce young shooters into hunting, field target shooting and the industry in general. Also, there’s no need to worry about the gun being out grown; because the Ultra Junior has a full size action, once the stock has been out grown the action can be taken out and bedded into a full size Ultra stock. Brilliant!
Airgun City is always and extremely busy section of the show with over 20 airgun ranges on which to test and try the very latest from the airgun world as well as getting your hands on some of the established and firm favourites. It wasn’t just the airgun manufacturers showcasing their new guns on the range. The optics manufacturers were also getting in on the act with Schmidt & Bender demonstrating their new for 2017 12.5-50×56 FT II.
This moves us on very nicely to the extent of new products that can be found in every corner of the 450,000 square feet that the British Shooting show occupies. Over the past few years the growth and significance of the show has been recognised by the manufacturers, distributors and retail outlets, who see it as the stage on which to showcase their new range of products outside of the USA. The 2017 British Shooting show was no exception to this rule – in fact there were more new product launches at this year’s show than ever before.
With between forty-five and fifty new products and product ranges for 2017 on show I’ve picked just a handful to mention here.
Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) Advanced
Ruger unleashed their new precision rifle, the RPR, on December 23, 2016. The British Shooting Show was the first opportunity for the UK shooting community to get up close to this fantastic new rifle. The original RPR was already packed with excellent features, so what’s new?
The RPR Advanced has all the great feature of the original RPR, but now comes with a new short action handguard that offers increase scope clearance. The rail system is flat at the 12 o’clock position to cater for the larger objective lenses of long-range scopes. In addition to this, the wider KeyMod handguard is flat on the bottom to provide a more stable foundation for mounting bipods.
The hybrid muzzle break reduces felt recoil, depending on calibre and barrel length, by up to 58% and locks into position with the use of an external jam nut, rather than shims. The port set up also reduces noise and blast to the side of the shooter.
The billet aluminium bolt shroud has already proved to be a popular upgrade with RPR owners and if you already own a RPR in its original configuration all the new enhancements are available separately from Ruger. A unique two stage drop box magazine system enables the shooter to use a number of different magazine types, including X Products, Alpha Magazines, Magpul PMags, AICS Magazines as well as several others.
With the RPR being based on an AR platform there are already a huge amount of aftermarket upgrades available. Ruger have made many parts with the intention of them being interchangeable. The pistol grip, safety catch, buttstock, bolt knob and handguard can all be switched out if the shooter wants to add their own personal touch to their rifle.
If you were ever in any doubt about the saying “good things come in small packages” then the Leupold LTO Tracker will put those doubts to bed. The LTO Tracker is an extremely compact hand held thermal imager. It’s able to detect a heat signature at around 600 yards and it will show a detailed image out to around 150 yards. The user is able to select between six different screen colours and the LTO Tracker also has a 6x digital zoom, a 21° field of view, and 30 Htz refresh rate. Its operational temperature range is from -4° – +145°F. With an overall length of just 6 inches and a weight of less than 10 oz it will easily fit into any jacket or trouser pocket.
The LTO Tracker is not just a tool to aid you on hunting trips, but can also be used around the home. While I was testing it I was asked to point it at the electrical cables that were taped to the floor and the heat signature from the cable could be clearly seen against the cold floor. Very useful if you want to drill into the walls of your home and are unsure where the electrical or water supply is.
Laporte-CPC New Range of Traps
Laporte-CPC has been the supplier of clay traps for the last eight consecutive Olympic Games, including Rio 2016 where the 185PC 12C PRO trap was used.The British Shooting Show 2017 played host to the launch of the new Laporte-CPC range of game changing traps.
Gaylia Fallon, General Manager, Laporte-CPC said, “What better time and place to launch our new and innovative product range than at the biggest trade show of the year, The British Shooting show. Laporte-CPC has been working hard this past year in order to present this exciting new development at this important event. Bringing you a wide range of game changing trap designed to deliver that little bit extra for shooting grounds and competitors alike”.
The new and enhanced trap has a completely new carousel and carousel base, but retains the same chassis and clay positioning finger system as the 185PC 12C PRO. What is different is the number of columns has increased from twelve to eighteen, and even with this column increase the trap retains its original dimensions – the same height, 1.2 m and same weight, 70 kg – but, holds 50% more (standard) clays.
There are five new patents on the trap and Laporte-CPC will be launching the DTL and the Skeet before launching the Sporting towards the end of the summer months. The tower trap will have the capacity to hold 1,400 clays. It’s also designed in such a way that it’s very easy to adjust regardless of the operators build. It can be adjusted to 65° drop or tilt forward and back, as well as up to 45° tilt left and right.
When it comes to ticking the boxes of what’s required from a “Shooting Show” the British Shooting Show delivers on every aspect. The combination of manufacturers, distributors and retails enables the visiting public to receive all the information they need about particular products before making an educated decision on what to buy, and even, from where to make that all important purchase.
This was perfectly illustrated when a gentleman came onto the Vortex stand while I was there. He was after a particular scope, but had been unable to find one in the UK. After further product information and an explanation from the Vortex representative about how current demand was outstripping production and there were was a waiting list for scopes in the UK it was pointed out that there was a Vortex retailer within the same zone in Hall 2 who had a small amount of Vortex stock, including the particular model that this gentleman was looking for – the cogs of the British Shooting Show perfectly in motion – manufacturer providing advice and technical information before pointing the customer in the direction of a potential purchase.
If you combine this with the educational factor and the abundance of new product launches it’s clear to see why the British Shooting Show is regarded by many as simply the best show of the year.