I first visited this shooting ground back in the original days of ShootClay, in fact it was one of the first grounds I learned to shoot at when it was called Broomhills and had a reputation for being a good local ground for practice, but didn’t have much of a competition status. I ventured up on a stormy May day, trying to dodge rain showers so that I could take a good look around and sample some of the changes.
Much has changed at the Hertfordshire ground, following its take over a couple of years ago. Atkins Grant and Lang is part of the same group that own The Oxfordshire Shooting School and the Francis Lovel & Co Gun Shop, Along with a change of ownership and name, the team have made a massive transformation of the shooting ground and its facilities.
Arriving in the car park, the most obvious alteration is the configuration of the club house area, there is a newly expanded shop with a full range of guns, accessories and shells. This is next to a well appointed shooting lodge, with inviting sofas, lots of magazines and a booking in counter. There are plenty of notices for forthcoming events, and it’s really good to see a buzz around the place. With free drinks on arrival, and a relaxing area to meet up with friends this is a nice place to arrange a practice session with or without your shooting buddies.
AGL has upgraded all of the stands to the latest Promatic card technology, with the Claymate solo practice feature so if you fancy working on some targets on your own you can grab a card and head out onto the ground. It’s worth noting that AGL is Fibre Wad only – I use Gamebore White Gold so took along my own shells, but there are an excellent range of Gamebore, Express and other brands available in the shop.
The basic layout of the stands is fairly similar – there is a wide loop around a wooded area, but the AGL team have completed the circuit all the way round and opened up a number of new stands. Coupled with this, they have also acquired an attached field, which allows some different stands over a wide and flat field and given the ground the ability to have stands that the old setup didn’t allow.
I started out on a driven stand just behind the club house, which utilises an excellent tower – and then wandered around the path to some of the old stands. I found some completely different targets to previous visits, where one accusation was that target presentations weren’t changed very much. There is an excellent mixture now, some high curling crossers and incomers and some tricky teals face into the ‘middle’ of the ground.
Out on the open field there are some good battues, some high teals, a tricky rabbit and some decent distance crossers – but the new configuration means that targets can be adjusted and changed which gives good variety.
One feature I particularly liked was the Coverhead Grouse Butt, sunk into the middle of the field and along a long well made path, this provided an evil test – with a long flat battue crossing in front of me coupled with a fast rising overhead. Definitely a stand that needed some respect!
All the way round I was dodging some heavy showers, and I was glad of the sheltered stands and tree cover throughout the main paths of the ground to keep me dry.
Everywhere on the ground, it is great to see significant investment to the fabric of the site. All of the stands have been rebuilt, with solid screens, gun racks and shelves for bags and shells etc. The pathways are all relayed, with good solid fencing to keep people in the right place. I shot about 75 clays, and saw only one no bird, so the traps are reliable and well set to throw some good, consistent targets.
Prices are every reasonable, with discounts for members on everything from clays to lessons – and membership is also very keenly priced, with discounts on clay prices, clothing and more. Instructors and Coaches are available – and I saw a number of lessons taking place across the ground, with the large shooting stands catering for small groups shooting together as well.
For competition shooters, the AGL team are staging a monthly CPSA registered shoot – and in between those, there are members competitions as well as ample time for practice and honing your skills.
Overall I’d really recommend a trip to Atkins Grant and Lang, especially if you used to use the ground when it was Broomhills but were worried that the targets were a bit ‘samey’ – the ground has a new lease of life, with a real quality feel about the place.
A gallery of photos from around the ground: