In amongst the doom and gloom about grounds closing, it is great to hear of someone getting their head down and starting a new shooting ground business. So I took some time out recently to visit Bardney Clays near Bardney in Lincolnshire and see what’s in store for shooters.
I managed to choose a blustery but bright day for a short drive from where I was staying to the former site of Bardney Aerodrome in Lincolnshire (Google maps link for location). The disused airstrip is home to a few businesses, including a chicken farm in the distance, and an area by the old control tower was being used by some model aeroplane enthusiasts. The directions I had were easy enough to follow once I had found my way onto the facility, and as I rounded a large hangar/warehouse building I found a hard standing parking area, in front of a small but welcoming clubhouse. You can also find the ground on Facebook to ask any questions.
The entire shooting ground was just a few weeks old, but a lot of effort is going in to clear new areas, and make things as tidy as possible. In fact, while I was there, a digger was running for the entire time – clearing years of neglected hardcore away from the hard standing to make the area clearer and more accessible. The owner Mark Lewis (ex Stile Hollow) talked me through some of the planned developments, including expansion of the sporting stands, a corporate targets area and a Skeet and DTL layout to make this a comprehensive shooting ground. The area is flat, and the wind whistled across the landscape on my round of clays, affecting some targets – but banks were being built which will shelter many of the areas and make this a much better ground.
Currently the ground only holds Sporting Practice rounds – 50 or 75 birds, which was a very reasonable £18, with a reentry cost a few quid cheaper. I squadded up with a local shooter, Barry Exton (brother of Carl) and we had referee Chris take us around the stands
Sporting stands had been set around the entire free space with 5 stands behind the club house, two close to the club house, and then two final ones in the wide expanse opposite the drive into the ground. Targets were heavily wind affected on the day I shot, with my opening stand consisting of two going away targets, one at about 45 degrees and the other nearer 60 from either side of the cage… into the wind. Each one was highly unpredictable and definitely needed to be shot quickly before crazy things started happening. Stand 2 was a fast (on the wind) crossing mini and a stalling (on the wind) right to left crosser – you can see a theme about the breeze!
Onwards into the round – Stand 3 was a gently curling incomer and a fast low left to right crosser and stand 4 was a high stalling crow, with a quartering teal going away. Stand 5 had a ‘flying kamikaze’ bunny off a bank, with a near vertical teal shot on report. Stand 6 was an on report pair of fast, low woodcock type birds. And Stand 7 was a high crosser over a treeline, with a quartering left to right midi on report.
Finally stand 8 and 9 across in the wide open area of the aerodrome – first up was a fast left to right looper with a flattish teal on report, and to finish a pair of battues on report, one high and slow followed by one shallow and quick.
If I had any minor criticisms, I would say the round was little reliant on straight/quartering teal type presentations – and a little more variety will be welcome but I suspect that opening up some new areas of the ground will make a massive difference here. It was clear to see as soon as we hit the open part of the ground, there was some really wide open target presentation. I was impressed with the use of features that are on the ground to make some interesting target presentations – traps hidden behind concrete and pipes, and banking to raise and conceal traps.
It was great to see well constructed shooting stands at every point, and some really descriptive target boards explaining ‘exocets’, and ‘kamikaze’ targets. Most of the ground was accessible by hardstanding, apart from the targets behind the club house. If these are given over to corporate style stands, then a full round on hard standing will be a VERY attractive round of clays for the disabled shooting fraternity. I would encourage Mark to keep focus on those accessible stands, they are really hard to retrofit!
Overall – a great new facility, and one I will definitely be revisiting to see how the ground develops and improves over time. The addition of a Skeet and DTL layout will being a different breed of shooter, and make this a very interesting destination for Lincolnshire shooters. Mark tells me that they hope to run registered sporting in the future, which will be excellent for those locals that otherwise have to travel to Orston, Grimsthorpe or further afield to compete.
Well done Mark and the team Bardney Clays – I look forward to seeing you again when I am in Lincolnshire.