The year the north’s grandest show went national

BASC shoot simulator

Britain’s best loved celebration of shooting may have rebranded to the National Shooting Show, but it’s kept its unique atmosphere, says BASC’s Marta Jacyna.

After a hectic Friday setting up the BASC areas at the National Shooting Show, our team were raring to go on Saturday morning. After a quick brew and a team-talk from BASC North regional director Duncan Thomas, it was time to take our positions and get ready for everyone’s arrival.

Doors opened promptly at 8.30am on Saturday, and we were soon busy dealing with questions from visitors. At the indoor stand, our membership team were on hand to assist with queries, renewals and help new members join BASC on the day.

BASC’s head of firearms Martin Parker and regional firearms officer Steve Phillips were also in situ to support members with firearm licensing-related questions and problems.

The busiest part of the stand was the VR shooting simulator, which attracted large crowds of visitors looking to have a go. The choice of targets available is quite impressive and includes simulated game, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We were joined on the main BASC stand by Zach Turner from Country Life Kids, who showcased his handmade rope collars, leads and accessories. Zach’s unique skills were featured in Shooting and Conservation magazine last year.

Zach kindly donated 20 per cent of all sales to the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT), and BASC matched his contribution. Along with donations from teas and coffees we gave out during the show, a total of £700 was raised over the course of the weekend for this worthy cause.

BASC’s clay line was as busy as ever, with more than 160 lessons given over the weekend. We managed to grab a few for short interviews and every person left our coaching sessions with a big smile on their face and a pocketful of empty cartridges to show how many clays they’d smashed.

Child shooting lesson

Useful conversations

The National Shooting Show is a great place to meet up with other people working in our sector. The event is a firm date in the diary for many BASC trade members and supporters, including British Shooting, EJ Churchill, BSA, Fieldsports Channel, Cheshire Gunroom, UKDTR, and Premier Guns, among many others.

We were pleased to see local police forces in attendance, including North and South Yorkshire Police firearms licensing teams, Lancashire Police, and Greater Manchester and Essex Police firearms licensing teams. 

Having the police at shows like this gives certificate holders the chance to have an informal chat and to raise any suggestions or concerns they have. Some forces were able to provide variations on the day, and as a result North Yorkshire police processed some 80 variations on the Saturday alone.

Go outdoors

BASC’s outdoor stands teemed with activity thanks to the kids’ conservation area, where children could build bird boxes to take home, listen to birdsong and see examples of animals found in habitats managed for game shooting.

While the children were kept busy, it was great to have this area in the show for their parents and other BASC members to catch up with a complimentary tea, coffee or cold drink courtesy of our BASC North team.

Game and Flames were located right next to BASC’s stand, offering outstanding venison kebabs and other game dishes. Founder of Game and Flames, Cai Ap Bryn, was crowned best influencer at the 2024 Eat Game Awards and brought his unique style to the show. For more on Cai and this year’s Eat Game Awards, listen to the Eat Game podcast here.

We were joined on our outdoor stand by Sir Johnny Scott, honorary president of the GWT, who was there to raise awareness of the work the the charity does to support gamekeepers and gillies and to promote the GWT’s #Checkinwithamate campaign.

Our specialist deer and wildfowling teams were right next door, ready to offer assistance and answer questions regarding deer, wildfowl and wetland management. Deer advisor James Sutcliffe and head of deer management Martin Edwards were certainly kept occupied measuring deer heads and offering advice to stalkers.

We also held thermal drone and lymph node dissection demonstrations, providing a little bit more insight into deer management and deer diseases and health. 

From a wildfowling perspective, BASC’s wildfowl and wetlands advisor Chris Wright did his bit to encourage people to give wildfowling a try, sharing stories to grab everyone’s interest. Chris is a passionate advocate for wildfowling and he was busy throughout the weekend imparting advice, guidance and support to existing ‘fowlers facing any challenges.

We were also joined by BASC’s commercial services team and one of the partners – Isuzu – with a brand-new Isuzu D-Max set up for shooting for everyone to take a look at.

BASC team

Anyone who felt a little peckish after so much exercise could sit down in BASC’s Hunter’s Kitchen, watch cookery displays from some top game chefs and try some of the dishes they’d prepared.

We had demos from Eat Game’s Amy Thompson, Game and Flames’ Cai Ap Bryn, chefs Lionel Strubb, Simon Whitehead, Greg Lewis and Ali Moran, as well as Fodder and Farm’s Lucy Pattinson.

We'll meet again

If you missed this year’s National Shooting Show, BASC members receive complimentary entry to The Game Fair at Blenheim Palace on 26-28 July.

The National Shooting Show will be back in 2025 and tickets are already on sale. Once again, BASC members receive complimentary entry to both days of the event. We hope to see you there next year.