There was a time in the past when one had to wait until the 'glorious 12th' to bag a bird, however we were lucky enough to be invited by Robert Parker-Swift to his fantastic simulated shoot in the heart of Kent.
After a short drive from central London (50 mins) we arrived at Squerryes Lodge, a stunning purpose built shoot lodge standing in the shadow of the beautiful Squerryes Court a 17th century manor house, home of the Warde family since 1731. We were welcomed at the lodge with coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, bacon butties and a splendid log fire. Robert is an effortless host and immediately made us feel at ease, introducing us to the other guests and explaining the day ahead.
The only difference is that poaching is encouraged and you are guaranteed to have a lot of shooting! Robert has invested in some serious clay traps that can spit four clays per second and others that can launch a whole covey of partridge at once!
The traps are completely hidden from view and can be articulated and adjusted to provide more or less challenging shooting depending on the individual gun's ability. There is a constant dialogue via radio between one of Roberts helpers stood behind the line and the trappers in order to tailor the clays to the individual guns ability, guaranteeing challenging and exciting shooting regardless of ability.
The other thing to be said about the set up is that it has excellent shooting topography, the drives included a mixed pheasant and partridge drive on a rolling piece downland, a fast incoming partridge drive in a sharp little 'V' valley and the formidable high pheasant drive in a steep piece of woodland. The guns were all of varying ability, ranging from the complete novice to the experienced game shot. Robert had two fantastic instructors on the day that we went both called Ross, both with that important ability to put people instantly at ease and quickly getting them to hit some clays. The experience really is the perfect way to learn to shoot, small lessons on etiquette, safety and technique were imparted by both Ross's in an easygoing manner and soon the whole line were regularly hitting a good proportion of the clays presented and more importantly in a safe manner.
After we had finished shooting we retired back to the shoot lodge for a wonderful meal, preceded by some delicious champagne produced on the estate. Port and sticky toffee pudding followed a beautiful main and we spent the afternoon digesting the day with the other guests.
Noble Fieldsports really is a fantastic company, the shooting is fast, challenging and extremely enjoyable and the food excellent. Robert is a consummate host, looking after every conceivable detail in an easygoing manner and the instruction is first rate. We wholeheartedly recommend a day at Squerryes Lodge whether it be to entertain clients, brush up before the season or learn to shoot from scratch - you will have a brilliant day.
Details of the different packages that Robert offers can be found at: www.noblefieldsports.co.uk