Julian Watson gives Jasper Fellows a tour of the workshop, gunroom and Sporting stands of Atkin, Grant & Lang Shooting Ground
In 1821 three renowned gunsmiths, Henry Atkin, Stephen Grant and Joseph Lang joined forces to create a new firm, Atkin, Grant & Lang (AGL). Even today, nearly 200 years later, their names are synonymous with high quality English gunmaking.
Of course, Atkin, Grant & Lang founders Henry, Stephen and Joseph are no longer with us, but their dedication to providing their clients with the highest quality products and services still continues today at the company’s shooting ground just outside of Markyate in Hertfordshire.
Taking us on a tour of the estate is Atkin, Grand & Lang shooting ground manager and sporting coordinator Julian Watson. “The grounds here opened in April 2013,” he explains, “and while I originally joined the team as a freelance instructor, I became a full-time member of staff in July 2014.”
As a lover of both clay and game shooting, Julian has been able to create a ground suited to all shooters, regardless of preferred quarry.
“We have a fantastic variety of English Sporting targets spread over 16 stands,” says Julian. “Each stand is equipped with a Promatic ClayMate system. This allows experienced shots to come along and practice hassle free, even if shooting unaccompanied.”
With at least two different targets available on each stand, there’s plenty to keep you going. “We regularly adjust the targets too,” adds Julian. “We alter the angle, speed and type of targets to keep things fresh for our regular visitors.”
One of the standout features here in Hertfordshire is the impressive 90ft high tower. “The high tower is the heart of the ground. Combined with our dedicated grouse butt, the tower allows us to represent a wide variety of game, from springing teal through to driven grouse and towering pheasants.”
With so many options available, it’s well worth booking a lesson to ensure you make the most of everything on offer. “Along with myself, we have an array of hand-picked, fully ASPI qualified freelance instructors who can help our clients improve,” explains Julian.
“For the beginner, our have-a-go sessions provide the perfect opportunity to try clay shooting. These sessions include 25 clays and cartridges and can be done one-to-one or in a group setting.”
More from our beginners guide to clay shooting
- Buying your first shotgun: a beginners guide
- Clay shooting tips from professionals
- Best entry-level shotguns: 6 of the best options
- Beginners guide to getting your shotgun licence
“When it comes to more experienced shooters, we’re able to adjust our lessons to suit the needs of the client. So, if there are any tricky targets they’re struggling with, we can make that our focus.
“Or if they’re looking to more generally improve their shooting methods, we can help with that too. We also offer in-field instruction for game shots looking to increase their hit rates.”
- No longer a rookie? Then read our guide on how to improve your shooting skills beyond beginner level
AGL has developed a solid reputation for hosting world-class competitions. “In May 2018 we were given the opportunity to host the CPSA English Open English Sporting,” says Julian.
“It was a huge task to host such a large event, but it was a success and an amazing achievement for the ground staff. We’ve also hosted the British Side by Side Championships, which is one of my favourite events, as I get to see a fantastic array of beautiful old English side-by-side guns.
“We have lots of exciting events in the pipeline for the rest of the year and beyond, including the Benelli Sp’Auto Championships and our monthly CPSA Registered Sporting and Sportrap competitions.”
Whether competing or practising, no trip to AGL would be complete without a visit to the onsite workshop and gun room. Here you’ll find all the usual suspects, Beretta, Blaser, Caesar Guerini et al. But if you’re looking for something really special then look no further than the guns bearing the names of the founders, Henry Atkin, Stephen Grant and Joseph Lang.
“Our Head Gunmaker, Alan Bower, rebuilds and restores older Grants, Atkins and Langs using traditional methods,” says Julian. “He also builds new guns under the Stephen Grant banner and can be commissioned to build a fine English gun to any client’s specifications.”
- Fancy restoring an old gun, or want to get a great finish? The check out our DIY guide to achieving the best firearms finish
If watching Alan at work has worn you out, the well-appointed clubroom and café offers a full English that’s bound to set you right again. Once thoroughly refreshed you’ll no doubt be back out the door to tackle the high tower again.
Combining fine English tradition with modern convenience, Atkin, Grant
& Lang Shooting Ground is the place for a thoroughly modern and discerning English lady or gent to get stuck into some Sporting action, improve their game, learn a little about classic quality craftmanship and perhaps add a new heirloom quality piece to their collection.
One-hour private lessons are available from £90 exclusive of clays and cartridges. Discounts are available for members or when booking a course of three lessons or more.
Annual membership starts from £195 for adults and £95 for Juniors, with a yearly renewal rate of £150 and £85 respectively. Members benefit from reduced rate instruction, gun fitting, clays and cartridges.
WHAT’S ON OFFER?
16 English Sporting Stands, a 90ft high t tower and a dedicated grouse butt.
WHEN IS IT OPEN?
WHERE IS IT?
Atkin Grant & Lang,
Windmill Road, Markyate
Call: 01582 849 382