It is a relatively unusual sight to see peacocks strutting around your car as you drive into a Shooting School, but our feathered friends aren’t the only unusual sight at Ladys Wood. From the impressive shooting lodge, with a beautiful gun room, top notch conference facilities, open fires and welcoming sofas to the incredibly high tower, this is a ground that is a cut above the average.
I took a pretty quick trip down the M4 to the school, about 15 or 20 minutes from the motorway near Chipping Sodbury. As you drive towards the ground, the high tower is clearly visible over the tops of some mature trees and the entrance is clearly signposted from the road with a large ‘LW’. A grand gravel drive, dotted with peacocks, leads up to the stone shooting lodge.
I met Shooting School Manager Chris Hanks and Helen, who runs the front of house team. They had offered to show me round and demonstrate the facilities on offer at Ladys Wood. After a quick coffee and look round the lodge area, we headed out into the ground.
Ladys Wood has a fibre wad only policy, to protect the environment of a beautiful piece of woodland. I usually only shoot fibre-wad cartridges during the game season, but I bought my own White Gold Fibres to use. The ground has previously asked you to use their shells, but they are now more than happy to let you bring your own fibre-wad ammo. A practice round at Ladys Wood is £40 for 100 targets, which represents great value if you view the facilities they have on offer.
The whole site is laid out with gravel paths, with well-built shooting stands and clear signs throughout. The stands have been laid out and designed so that you can shoot any target from a number of shooting positions, we started with a quick warm-up stand of an incomer and dipping crosser and then moved down into the woodland to look at some more parts of the ground. To one side of the ground, you can shoot out into an open pasture and the team had set up some nice crossers and a high incomer – often a shooting position will have three or four targets available, almost like a FITASC Sporting stand, and then you can move 20 yards to the side and shoot the same targets from a different position. We shot from a pair of stands called ‘Logs’ and were’ able to shoot from both ‘pegs’ to create some interesting and thoughtful presentations.
Elsewhere, the ground has one manicured lawn area with another 5 or 6 targets presented, these were more ‘corporate’ targets surrounded by benches for spectators, but the freedom of movement meant Chris could turn a fairly benign crosser into a testing overhead quickly and this lends the area to a great training and learning area as well as a good corporate location.
Following this we moved onto one of the multiple towers, each having multiple traps. Nearly all of these are remote controlled so targets can be made progressively harder. Some of the traps are ABT ‘wobblers’ so some random birds can also be thrown as part of a flurry. There are even a few manual traps in some of the towers and the onsite trappers were throwing some fearsome targets.
The main high tower is 120ft, and it really is a monster. Chris got me to shoot a few driven targets, and then moved the trap controls to turn a high driven into a monster crosser that needed shedloads of lead and careful line. This is one of my nemesis targets, so it was great to be able to tailor the target and learn what I was doing wrong. Chris offered some gentle advice along the way, and a good bit of banter, showing me a number of high driven and crossing targets that would test even the best shots, including a stratospheric midi crosser that must land easily near the coast somewhere!
After this we toured the rest of the ground, sending roe deer scurrying through the woods. The ground also has a new area in a clearing in the trees with 5 or 6 targets set up around 5 stands set in a semi-circle. These traps sit on small pylons, meaning a 30/45ft lift to give some great angles and targets without having massive towers, excellent use of the space, and allowing the setup to blend nicely with the woods.
Finally we shot some targets from the flurry, built on new stands out in a field, and managed to squeeze in a quick pattern plate test to check the performance of the White Gold fibres, which performed really well with no noticeable drop off from my usual plastic wads.
Chris and the team only took over the ground in May last year, and it is clear they have made an excellent effort to make the ground look spectacular and have facilities to rival any other. As a ground for practice and coaching, I’d say Ladys Wood is one of the best. Chris also let me in to some of the plans they have for the ground, and it is only going to be onwards and upwards for the school.
Overall, I think Ladys Wood is an excellent ground for clay practice and coaching, the ability to shoot almost any target from any position means that clay shooters can use the facilities here to really improve their skills. The support and help from the staff onsite was faultless, with any target presentation available by working with the instructors and trappers onsite Therein lies the way to get the best out of a ground like Ladys Wood, by having an instructor on the ground with you, you can tailor your practice to shoot the targets you want to work on as the team can set up any target for you. As a way to develop and hone your skills, Ladys Wood is unrivalled in the flexibility and support offered. I will definitely be back for practice sessions.
A gallery of photos from the ground: