Simulated Experience: Driven Clay Company Lancashire

The “Simulated Driven” phenomenon has been growing in popularity and exposure recently. Primarily intended as a way of ‘practicing’ for big bag days or experiencing them without the cost, the “Simulated Driven” model is being seized on by numerous operators, big and small. It is becoming increasingly common to see actual game estates running these days- a way of utilising their land assets for profit in the off season- while smaller outfits hop from place to place, setting up shoots for landowners or syndicates.

It was the latter that I attended last Sunday, organised by Driven Clay Company Lancashire, run by Chris Brindle. I saw his “No Frills- The Quarry” event advertised on Facebook that purported to be in an area not five minutes’ walk away from my Parents’ house in Wigan.

I was, naturally, intrigued, so after a couple of enquiries I put together a relatively short-notice team of five; Me, two shooters from the UYCPSC (Beth and George), and two from our local syndicate, my father included.

The day was advertised at £55 per head and promised 3 drives of 250+ ‘Birds’ over “The Quarry”. Our entry was organised over Facebook and Chris was really open and helpful with any queries I had, so all looked promising! This included safety questions around the Dreaded Semi Auto, as I intended to take my old Browning Double Auto for at least one drive. All fine, said he, as long as it’s flagged and slipped between drives.

The day arrived and- as per usual- one of our Students was late. The assembled 15-or-so people and our gracious host, Chris, were easygoing about the whole thing, despite my embarrassment.

The day proceeded like this:

3 Drives with Seven Pegs, with 3 teams of Seven (Five for us). The next team along would, if wanted, load for the first team, and vice versa. Back for light refreshments and then out again between drives.

Our team shot last, due to our latecomer- but it gave us a good opportunity to assess how the clays were presenting. The superb variety from a well-hidden and fully-stocked set of traps gave something sporting for every ability. The first drive was well paced, and on stand One the Double Auto’s slick side-speed-loading system let very little get past. A fast crosser almost overhead was the main challenge, curling back in such a way as to be unnoticeable for pegs further down the line.

After having to crawl through nettles hunt high and low for my spent cartridges, I decided to swap to my Rizzini Aurum 20b for the last two drives. The sheer volume of targets presented provided the perfect opportunity for a little bit of troubleshooting with this gun- Firstly, it had been away for repair, and needed testing, and Secondly, I’d often had trouble with gun mount on true driven days.

With a reliable loader helping me run god knows how many rounds through the little 20b- scalding my fingers on a couple of occasions- these drives proved the perfect test. The day ended on a massive high as I stood Peg Seven, where it seemed the traps were firing constantly. I’ve only ever been involved in something similar once before- a superb flush at Bodidris Hall- and the feeling, that rush of meeting an overwhelming challenge, everything working almost on instinct, certainly still applies to clays.

As I’m always trying to drag new people into the sport, and our experience day impressed me so much, I’m currently organising another day in October pitting the old ‘uns against the young ‘uns in the UYCPSC. A full Simulated day with Driven Clay Company Lancashire comes to £129, including Elevenses and a full set of drives, so it’s seriously good value.

To sum up, I can, honestly, see this being the future of our sport. The pressure from environmentalists and “Conservationists” will only increase, despite the evidence- and Simulated Driven shooting, while not quite the same experience could provide a valuable, more easily defensible outlet for sport shooting. It’s still social, powder still gets burned, and it’s remarkably good practice, sharpening the eyes and reactions.

However- and this is a big “However”. So much of value would be lost. I trained as a historian and ‘heritage’ practitioner and the traditions of driven game shooting are of cultural value. Our landscape has been shaped by it, our popular conceptions moulded by it. Tangibly and Intangibly, the rural heritage of Britain is related to shooting game, and the practices facilitating the sport. Being involved in any way has so many benefits. Simulated Driven shooting in its own right is a superb sport, an immensely enjoyable, challenging discipline- but it is a simulation.

Besides, as my dad would say- “Tha con’t eyt clay pidguns”

Driven Clay Company Lancashire is:

Boasting 9 different locations and 60 different drives across the beautiful Lancashire countryside.

Rizzini and Browning shotguns purchased through York Guns Ltd

Photography credit: Beth Linnane/David Farrimond