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So, you think you want to start a simulated game shoot? Whether you’re planning a one-off event or a permanent setup, here are some of the things you need to consider to make sure its as successful as possible.


The popularity of simulated game in the UK has risen in the last few years. The fast pace of driven targets, mixed with the authentic feel of a game day is appealing to game shooters honing their skills before the season starts. In our opinion, simulated game is becoming more than this, with people wanting to shoot simulated targets all year round and shoots continuing to host into the winter months. Here are some steps towards setting up a simulated shoot.

Initial thoughts on starting a simulated shoot

Most people who run a simulated shoot have a passion for the sport or are involved in the shooting community in some way. If you want to run a successful shoot it’s very time consuming, so it’s worth thinking if it’s a commitment you want to make.
While you’ll find most people in the shooting community are respectful when dealing with firearms, your guests must feel safe and know who’s in charge. Are you confident in working with large groups of people and taking charge in these situations?
Research the area where you plan to shoot and consider the following: Is there a demand? Are there established shoots you will be in direct competition with? What money can you realistically charge and is this financially viable?

Choosing the right location for your sim shoot

In line with the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (part 4-temporary use of land), you can use land for clay pigeon shooting for 28 days in total, in any calendar year and have provisions on the land (e.g. toilets, cabins) if it’s a movable structure before requiring planning permission. We advise checking the order as there are specific restrictions in place.
Have a good understanding of the land you wish to shoot on, go online and map out potential drives with an app to give you the best view of the area. Consider potential noise complaints that can quickly make a business non-viable. Its best to choose land in a remote area, ensuring there’s enough room for the fall out of shot, that cannot land onto public footpaths or neighbouring fields: 300 yards in every direction from the point of shooting is the accepted rule of thumb.

Photo courtesy of Driven Clay Co

Ideally, you’ll have multiple places where you can simulate different types of quarry. Open fields, woods and high rolling banks are the perfect scenario but not essential; this all adds to the experience you’ll be able to create. If you have flat land, then you may need machinery to lift the traps and replicate high driven targets.
If you own private land that’s a good position to be in, if you don’t you could rent. If renting, it would be advisable to draw up an agreement as proof, in case your presence on the land is ever questioned.

Getting the right equipment for simulated shooting

Spend time researching the traps you want to buy. It’s an important decision which has a big impact on running your event. Speak to established shoots and request demonstrations from trap manufacturers. Most importantly you want to purchase traps that are reliable, durable and have the power to replicate driven targets.

Photo courtesy of Driven Clay Co

Game trailers, until recently, have been the main option for simulating game, they are a fantastic piece of machinery however not right in all circumstances. We also recommend spacing out individual traps which, gives a good coverage of clays over the shooting line at less cost than a game trailer. For example, Bowman’s Flurry Masters are £2500 +VAT and will entertain the same number of guns as a game trailer. Therefore, two flurry masters, working together, are a cost-effective option to establish a shoot.



Photo courtesy of Firle Shooting 

Consider how you are going to transport the traps to each drive and if the guns will walk or be driven between drives.
Find a reputable clay manufacturer and before making a bulk purchase ensure they are suitable for the traps you’re going to be using; speak to the trap manufacturers who will be happy to help.

Looking after your guests:  safety and hospitality

Think health and safety. It’s not mandatory to be a qualified instructor however having accredited knowledge on site is always a positive, newcomers will find this helpful and experienced shots will like getting a few tips. Having a first aider onsite is recommended, the virtual college offers a course at £15 +VAT.
A good safety briefing in the morning will be essential so having this planned and well thought out is essential. All guns should follow the shotgun code of practice. BASC have a fantastic leaflet and combined with your safety brief will form your risk assessment. Get the guns to sign a sheet at the end of the brief stating that they have listened and understood. It’s also advisable to note shotgun certificates and insurance details for each shooter.
It may be worthwhile speaking to your local firearms officer and letting them know you have shooting events planned in the area. If they get any calls from members of the public or you have unwanted people turn up at the venue you have their support.
Hospitality is a must; shooters look forward to this as much as the shooting. Consider linking up with a local pub or catering service to provide food which has the added benefit of food hygiene being taken care of. If your simulated days are taking place in the summer your guns can dine alfresco which will take a little more effort on your part as you must register with your local authority if you plan to handle and prepare food for customers – its free and easy.
Start advertising your business on social media or consider getting a website. Get people excited about what you have to offer and when you will be available for bookings. Promoting your business is a key factor to gaining new customers. When your business starts, your hospitality and reputation will keep them coming back.

Register your sim shoot as a business

Registering as a sole trader is the quickest and easiest way to set up a business, www.gov.uk/set up a business has all the guidance you need including choosing a name to trade under and registering for tax. You will need business insurance to cover you and your employees for potential accidents / damage etc. Speak to your insurer about what types of insurance you need including public and employers’ liability.

Have a trial run

Invite family and friends to trial your sim shoot, as there’s bound to be some finer details that need ironing out. Most importantly you need constructive criticism from people who have experience of simulated shooting.
From here on, the world is your oyster and you can create something truly special. In our opinion, the more value you add to your shoot – for example hospitality, on the peg coaching etc -the more successful it will be. We have a passion for traps and shooting here at Bowman, if you ever want any advice on creating your simulated shoot give us a call, we are more than happy to help.

Please note this is a guideline and not an exhaustive list of what is required to set up a simulated shoot. Bowmans will not accept liability for any shortfalls encountered by businesses setting up simulated shoots.  

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