As The Game Fair prepares to welcome trade and visitors to Hatfield House, we preview the biggest event in the fieldsports calendar
Last year marked a momentous landmark for The Game Fair, as the show at Ragley Hall celebrated the 60th anniversary of the countryside festival. This years showcase is set to be bigger than ever when it returns to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 July.
Already the treasured showpiece gathering for countryside enthusiasts, The Game Fair’s exciting new features for 2019 and traditional favourites are expected to attract 120,000 visitors and nearly 1,000 exhibitors.
The festival of the great British countryside will be returning to the venue 21 miles north of London that proved to be such a big hit in 2017.
The huge strength of public support the show receives continues to give it a lasting appeal. ‘The Game Fair’ conjures up images of all things countryside, from gamekeeping and gundogs to food and retail stalls.
Enthusiasts are drawn from across the country to enjoy the shows iconic main arena demonstrations, clayline competitions and of course the famous Gunmakers Row and adjacent pub.
“With an exciting programme of interactive, educational and fun have-a-go events lined up for 2019, no other event compares on scale and quality,” says The Game Fair’s managing director James Gower.
“Our state-of-the-art blackout tunnel and viewing deck is just one example of the innovative new features which add to the appeal of our special festival.” S
Seen by the industry as more than a retail opportunity, The Game Fair is among the leading networking events in the shooting calendar. It was founded in 1958 as an inclusive event – one at which landowners and gamekeepers would be seen – and it still embodies that principle today. People come to socialise, they stay to shop.
Gunmakers’ Row, crammed with the world’s best brands, is the place to be for shooters keen to try and buy the latest kit. The Game Fair is also the biggest event on the calendar for gundog lovers, who can have-a-go with their own dog in the scurry, pick-up and scramble events or watch the UK’s best dogs and handlers compete in the prestigious Home International.
Starting with a bang, a 61-gun salute in the main arena on the Friday will get the 61st annual festival underway and signal the start of a jam-packed intinerary; from clay to airgun shooting, including have-a-go events for novices, masterclasses, fun trick-shooting demonstrations, exciting competitions, and the Subaru Shooting Line, organised this year by world-famous shooting ground and sporting agency E.J. Churchill.
The Game Fair covers all bases to create a widespread appeal. The show in Ragley maintains the classic countryside appeal, while Hatfield is set up as a retail haven with strong links to London.
By alternating between the two organisers have held onto the shooting aspects that were a core part of the shows original remit over 60 years ago. We look forward to seeing you all at Hatfield House.
Join us for a drink!
Gun Trade News would like to invite members of the trade to reception drinks ahead of this year’s Game Fair at Hatfield House.
GTN will be hosting the party, along with the Gun Trade Association, to mark the opening of the ‘Festival of the Great British Countryside’.
The event will be held at the luxurious Gun Trade Lounge on Gunmakers Row from 5pm on Thursday 25 July and is a great opportunity to meet key members of our industry.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org – We look forward to seeing you there!
On the Shooting Line…
The Subaru Shooting Line
More than 500 metres long, the shooting line organised and coordinated by E.J. Churchill is jam-packed with activities for shooters of all disciplines and abilities.
With a variety of exciting layouts designed by multi world and European clay shooting champion George Digweed MBE, who will be there all day on Friday 26, experienced shooters will be tested and can compete for cash prizes.
Some of the best shooters in the UK will be competing, while tuition will be on offer for novice shots. Obliterate one of the hidden flash or dust clays to receive a voucher as a prize.
The Shooting Arena
With grandstand seating for over 130 spectators, The Shooting Arena is home to display shooting, trick-shots, demonstrations, master classes and nail-biting finals of the Champion of Champions and Colts Challenge. Expect a packed schedule of events covering all three days.
The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) will be running four have-a-go stands on the claylines, giving novices and experts alike the chance to enhance their skills.
The have-a-go experience, costing £12 or £10 for under-16s, will include 10 minutes of expert instruction in clay shooting from a CPSA-qualified coach and the opportunity to shoot at ten clay targets. More experienced shots will receive tips and technique correction to help hit targets more consistently.
Get Advice from BASC
The British Association for Shooting & Conservation will have five stands and even more targets to try your hand at. They’ll be offering advice, guidance and training and you can find out more about the organisation’s work. Don’t forget that being a member of BASC also gets you complimentary entry to The Game Fair on all three days.
Pool Shoot and Sportrap
Enthusiasts can tackle testing targets set by George Digweed in two fast-fire challenges organised by the experienced E.J. Churchill team. There’s an opportunity to take on a 12-bird pool shoot for a £5 entry fee (cartridges not included) or spend £10 to enter a 25-bird sportrap challenge and compete to win daily cash prizes in both.
Another exhilarating course set out by Mr Digweed to appeal to keepers, the 20-bird sequence operated by E.J. Churchill will also be open to less experienced shooters, with an instructor on the stand to help. Entry is £15, which includes gun hire and cartridges. A prize will be awarded to the Top Gun on all three days.
The Game Fair Challenge
Following the success of last year’s inaugural competition, a stellar entry list is expected for what will be a revised 40-target English sporting contest on a testing lay-out devised by George Digweed.
The best clay shooters in the business will battle it out under pressure for the chance to win a daily Top Gun cash prize in the Main Arena. Entry at the registration tent will cost £20, or £15 for re-entry, in seniors, open, ladies and junior categories.
Shooters must use their own gun and cartridges and the overall winner will collect a prize late Sunday afternoon.
Champion of Champions
Run by the CPSA, this competition brings together the top guns from across England for a spectacular shoot-out in the main arena. The champion shooter from each county is invited to test themselves in a thrilling event that always pulls in a huge crowd and aims to determine who is Britain’s best of the best.
Another CPSA initiative, this competition is a fantastic chance for the best under-16 shooters in the business to impress under pressure. A big crowd will be drawn in again to watch the top ten English sporting colts in the country battling it out in the main arena in front of a packed grandstand.
Try Before You Buy
Top brands will have their latest gear for you to try out before you part with your hard-earned cash. Just visit the relevant stands for a chat and see the options, then pull the trigger on the have-a-go ranges and see which gun is right for you.
Try Something Different
If you have already bought your next shotgun and had a go on the clay lines, then why not give some of the other country pursuits on show at The Game Fair a go?
There’s an airgun zone, a night vision tunnel to test the latest optics technology, casting pools and have-a-go fishing tuition on the river, falconry, working and gundog displays, retail and food villages and even a Ginmakers’ Row.
Or just relax with a drink at the Gunmakers’ Pub or Cider Quarter – the latter is just in front of the airgun ranges.
The place to view the best and newest products from British gunmakers as well as renowned names from around the world. All of the premier shooting-related companies are here in one place, offering every accessory imaginable from knives to clothing.
With major manufacturers and retailers in attendance, showcasing the latest airgun and scopes on state-of-the-art ranges, the Airgun Zone will once again be a must-see area of The Game Fair.
Novices can have a go under the guidance of experienced coaches or you can pick up some handy shooting tips. Plans are well advanced, too, for a challenging airgun competition with some great prizes up for grabs.
The Game Fair 2019 Essentials
Where: Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
When: Friday, 26 July to Sunday, 28 July (6am to 6pm, to 7:30pm on the Friday. Stands and attractions open from 9am)
Gun storage: Gun storage is available during the day only, but not overnight. This service costs £10 per gun per day. Storage is available from 8.30am to 5pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets: Early bird tickets are on sale now via www.thegamefair.org or 0844 776 7777. Advance tickets for one day cost £27 for an adult and £10 for a child (aged 8 to 16).
Advance three-day tickets cost £75 for an adult and £30 for a child (aged 8 to 16). An advance family ticket for two adults and up to three children costs £67 for one day or £200 for all three days.
Concessions are available for senior citizens (60+) and military personnel. On the gate, adult tickets cost £34 and child tickets £10 for one day. Accompanied children aged 8 and under are free.
Parking: Advance premium parking costs £20 per day, while In-Show Parking can be bought in advance for £40 a day.
Camping: Open for 5 nights, from Wednesday 24 July – Monday 29 July. Caravans, motor homes, horse boxes and tents are welcome to new pitch size of 10m x 10m or modules thereof. Prices range from £125 per pitch for up to three nights without electric hook to £245 for up to five nights with electric hook up.
Telephone: 01707 252707