The long-running countryside event is back, and better than ever. Here’s what to look forward to.
Clay shooters will have an opportunity to buy the hottest new kit, get advice from experts and watch the best of the best compete against each other when The Game Fair returns for the second time to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire on 26-28 July.
Already the treasured showpiece gathering of the summertime for countryside enthusiast, The Game Fair’s exciting new features for 2019 and traditional favourites are expected to attract 120,000 visitors and nearly 1,000 exhibitors as the festival of the great British countryside returns to the venue 21 miles north of London that proved to be such a big hit in 2017.
“With an exciting program of interactive, educational and fun have-a-go events lined up for 2019, no other event compares on scale and quality,” says The Game Fair’s managing director James Gower.
“Our state-of-the-art blackout tunnel and viewing deck is just one example of the innovative new features which add to the appeal of our special festival.”
Starting with a bang, a 61-gun salute in the Shooting Arena on the Friday will get the 61st annual festival underway and signal the scope and scale of the offer to shooting enthusiasts.
From clay shooting to airguns, have-a-go events for novices, masterclasses, fun trick-shooting demonstrations, exciting competitions, and the Subaru Shooting Line, which is organised this year by world-famous shooting ground and sporting agency EJ Churchill, there’s a jam-packed itinerary.
Gunmakers’ Row, crammed with the world’s best brands, is the place to be for shooters keen to buy the latest kit. The Game Fair is also the biggest event on the calendar for gundog lovers, who can enter their dog in the scurry, pick-up and scramble events or watch the UK’s best dogs and handlers compete in the prestigious Home International.
New for 2019, the Kitchen Theatre will host on Saturday 27 July the final judging for Best British Game Charcuterie Product, part of The British Charcuterie Awards.
Game meat will be at the heart of the enormous Totally Food area, where visitors can graze to their hearts’ content before stopping by at Gin Makers’ Row, another new addition for 2019, for an artisan dram.
The Fishing Village and the Falconry Village will be a huge draw, making The Game Fair an all-inclusive experience for all those who love the countryside.
The Game Fair 2019: Need to know
Where: Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
When: Friday 26 July to Sunday 28 July (6am to 6pm, open till 7:30pm on the Friday. Stands and attractions open at 9am).
Gun storage: Storage is available from 8.30am to 5pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is no overnight storage. This service costs £10 per gun per day.
Cartridges: If you are bringing your own cartridges for the Subaru shooting line, note that it is fibre wad only.
Tickets: Early bird tickets are on sale now via www.thegamefair.org or 0844 776 7777.
One day advance £27
One day gate price £34
Three days advance £75
Child aged 8 to 16
One day £10
Three days £30
Family (two adults and up to three children)
One day advance £67
Three days advance £200
BASC members Free entry
Accompanied children (aged 8 and under) Free entry
Concessions are available for senior citizens (60+) and military personnel.
Parking: Advance premium parking costs £20 per day, while in-show parking can be bought in advance for £40 a day.
CampingOpen for five nights, Wednesday to Monday, 24-29 July. Caravans, motor homes, horse boxes and tents are welcome. Pitches are sold in modules of 10m x 10m. Prices range from £125 per pitch for up to three nights without electric hook-up to £245 for up to five nights with electric hook-up.
Telephone: 01707 252707
Things to do for clay shooters
The Subaru Shooting Line
More than 500 metres long, the shooting line, organised and coordinated by EJ Churchill, is jam-packed with activities for shooters of all disciplines and abilities.
Experienced shooters are invited to compete for cash prizes on a variety of exciting layouts designed by multi world and European clay shooting champion George Digweed MBE, who will be in attendance all day on the Friday.
Some of the best shooters in the UK will be competing, while tuition will be on offer for novice shots. Obliterate one of the hidden flash or dust clays to receive a voucher as a prize.
The Shooting Arena
With grandstand seating for over 130 spectators, The Shooting Arena is home to display shooting, trick-shots, demonstrations, masterclasses and nail-biting finals of the Champion of Champions and Colts Challenge. Expect a packed schedule of events covering all three days.
Have a go
The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association will be running four have-a-go stands on the clay lines, giving novices and experts alike the chance to enhance their skills.
The have-a-go experience, costing £12 or £10 for under-16s, will include 10 minutes of expert instruction in clay shooting from a CPSA qualified coach, in addition to the opportunity to shoot at ten clay targets.
More experienced shots will receive tips and technique correction to help hit targets more consistently.
Get advice from BASC
Next to The Game Fair’s ranges, you’ll find experts from the British Association for Shooting & Conservation, who will have five stands and even more targets to try your hand at.
They’ll be offering advice, guidance and training, and you can find out more about the organisation’s work. Don’t forget that being a member of BASC also gets you complimentary entry to The Game Fair on all three days.
Win day out AND clay shooting experience at The Game Fair 2019
Clay Shooting Magazine has teamed up with The Game Fair to give away one pair of adult tickets (worth £68 per pair) to one day of the countryside festival and a Have-A-Go attempt on the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) stand (worth £12 per person) to five lucky readers.
To enter, simply answer this question:
Where will The Game Fair 2019 be held?
(a) Ragley Hall
(b) Blenheim Palace
(c) Hatfield House.
To enter just go to www.clay-shooting.com/competitions and submit your answer by 10/07/2019. Good luck!
Pool shoot and Sportrap
Enthusiasts can tackle testing targets in two fast-fire challenges organised by the EJ Churchill team. There’s an opportunity to take on a 12-bird pool shoot for a £5 entry fee (cartridges not included) or spend £10 to enter a 25-bird Sportrap challenge and compete to win daily cash prizes in both.
Game Keeper’s Challenge
An exhilarating course set out to appeal to keepers, this 20-bird sequence operated by EJ Churchill will also be open to less experienced shooters, with an instructor on the stand to help. Entry is £15, which includes gun hire and cartridges. A prize will be awarded to the Top Gun on all three days.
The Game Fair Challenge
Following the success of last year’s inaugural competition, a stellar entry list is expected for what will be a revised 40-target English Sporting contest on a testing lay-out.
The best clay shooters in the business will battle it out for the chance to win a daily Top Gun cash prize in the Shooting Arena. Entry at the registration tent will cost £20, or £15 for re-entry, in seniors, open, ladies and junior categories.
Shooters must use their own gun and cartridges and the overall winner will collect a prize late Sunday afternoon.
Champion of Champions
Run by the CPSA, this competition brings together the top guns from across England for a spectacular shoot-out in the Shooting Arena. The champion shooter from each county is invited to test themselves in a thrilling event that aims to determine who is England’s best of the best.
Another CPSA initiative, this competition is a fantastic chance for the best under-16 shooters in the business to impress under pressure. A big crowd will be drawn in again to watch the top ten English sporting colts in the country battle it out in the Shooting Arena in front of a packed grandstand.
Try before you buy
Top brands will have their latest gear for you to try out before you part with your hard-earned cash. Just visit the relevant stands for a chat and see the options, then pull the trigger on the have-a-go ranges and see what gun is right for you.
Try something new
If you have bought your next shotgun and had a go on the clay lines, why not give some of the other country pursuits on show at The Game Fair a go?
There’s an airgun zone, a night vision tunnel to test the latest optics technology, casting pools and have-a-go fishing tuition on the river, falconry, working and gundog displays, a retail village, food village and even a Ginmakers’ Row.
Or just relax with a drink at the Gunmakers’ Pub or Cider Quarter – the latter is just in front of the airgun ranges.
The place to view the best and newest products from British gunmakers and renowned names from around the world.
All the premier shooting-related companies are here in one place, offering every accessory imaginable from knives to clothing. Sharing a beer in Gunmakers’ Pub is a great way to relax after all of that shooting.
For the best field sports news, reviews, industry and feature content, don’t forget to visit our sister publications Sporting Rifle, Bow International, Airgun Shooter and Gun Trade News. And our YouTube shows The Shooting Show and The Airgun Shooter. For subscriptions, please visit https://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/