Charles Dark explores the picturesque and exciting world of Dovey Valley Shooting Ground.
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Dovey Valley, an extensive Sporting layout in the heart of Wales, has been described as shooting heaven. Having attracted shooters from across the UK for well over 100 years, it is now undergoing a big makeover under the direction of the founder’s grandson.
Richard Jones and his partner Nia have restored the ground to its former glory, investing in new equipment, smartening up the club house and improving every aspect of its offering.
The ground is a delight, discretely set in a lush, green valley surrounded by native woodland, with south-facing views down to the Dyfi River Valley. It is protected to the north by the mountains, which shelter it from the worst of the rain.
Over 100 different target variations are on offer, meaning there’s something to suit everyone from complete beginners to the most experienced pro shooters. You can shoot as few or as many targets as you wish, from 25 to 500 clays. First class tuition is also available for shooters looking to sharpen skills and improve their score.
Dovey Valley was originally built in 1900 by a keen game shooter, the legendary Hugh ‘Bryn Melin’ – there being so few surnames in Wales, Hugh Jones, like many farmers, was known by the name of his farm. Hugh wanted to create a very special layout on his 350 acre Welsh mountain sheep farm.
His aim was to provide the same variety of shots that game shooting can throw up, from high pheasants to fast rising partridge and ground game. The sheer variety of shooting is what has always made the ground so special.
The shooting school has dedicated professional instructors, including experienced game shots and world class Olympic clay shots. With over 100 stands, including Automatic Ball Traps, Skeet and Down the Line layouts, the choice is enormous.
There are 66 Sporting stands, including driven clays, crossers and some testing high birds, all presented as naturally as possible against the ground’s jagged topography and spectacular scenery. Regulars who know the ground are often happy to go round alone, but new visitors benefit from a caddy to help determine which stands serve their needs.
Have a go
Dovey Valley is always keen to bring new people into the sport, and are happy to cater for complete novices with special package deals. This is ideal for families, groups of friends, corporate groups, hen and stag parties. Packages can be created to suit everyone, from 25 clays up to 500, including instruction, clays, cartridges, gun hire and safety equipment.
All novices are accompanied by a member of staff. The new clubhouse is a great place to relax and watch some of the stands, with snacks, hot and cold drinks, and chinwags with the local regulars all in plentiful supply. Hot breakfast rolls are a staple, and some packages even have three-course lunches.
If you want a true Bryn Melin experience then the simulated game shoot is a must. Days can be tailored to your group’s needs, and you certainly won’t be going hungry or thirsty!
The Dovey Valley team also run game shooting, so they know their business and can run half or full days for parties of guns. This is excellent for clay shooters wanting something a little different, or for game shooters wanting to get their eye in.
Make a break of it
The Dovey Valley ground has arrangements with a number of local hotels. Some parties of shooters, for instance, have a tradition of staying at the nearby Wynnstay Hotel that’s been going for over 20 years.
This three star hotel has an excellent reputation for food and drink and also secure gun lock-up. Dogs are welcome. Food is mostly locally sourced and there are local real ales, lagers and ciders.