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Jan 28 2013

While the wily fox and other wild creatures are increasingly opting for life in the city, more and more city slickers are opting for country life – or certainly country lifestyles.

Country sports house , E. J. Churchill Gunmakers, reports a steady stream of young city men and women reporting to its headquarters in Buckinghamshire to learn how to shoot and indulge in shooting practices that might be applied in the field. No wonder Mr Fox favours the safer purloins of the inner city.


"We are seeing a lot more people coming out of the city to shoot with us for Clays and Game," reports Rob Fenwick, managing director of Churchill. "Many start with clays in order to progress into game, which seems to be the ultimate goal. We are finding large corporate businesses are now setting up shooting clubs and then they all come here on a weekend to shoot. It seems to be a great way of having fun with clients in a competitive but friendly environment."

Churchill, one of the world’s leading gunmakers and British owned, provides novices and experienced sportsmen enthusiasts with everything that might be churchillguns.jpgneeded for the field. From guns and equipment to clothing and accessories, its base near the infamous Hell Fire Caves of West Wycombe can completely equip the game or clay shooter, as well as the chap just looking for  country style with fun.

"The great thing about shooting is that you can be a complete novice but still enjoy and participate at the very best shooting grounds, like here, which is very different to golf," says Fenwick. "Within a few churchillshot.jpgweeks of pretty intense lessons you can soon be doing well and able to go game shooting with the assistance of your instructor.

"Over the last 5 years we have seen a huge demand for what we call in-field instruction. This is where the client actually takes their own instructor, here from the ground, along game shooting with them and the instructor stands with them and teaches them all the etiquette and makes sure they are safe."

Lest this popularity should give any suggestion that the UK is heading for the trigger-happy culture of the US, British shooting is stringently controlled and licenced. But that certainly has not deterred the growing interest in country shooting, both for clay and game.

A beautifully crafted Churchill gun at top, in action above, and below out in the field, country styles. At bottom, country house elegance at the West Wycombe estate.

churchillstyle.jpgThat it is not just men but many women too who are turning up at Churchill's and other shoot sites is perhaps a testament to the more comfortable and sophisticated surroundings the sport now offers. Such films as 'Gosford Park' and others featuring lavish country house excursions may have promoted the luxury image, but shoots were often cold, gruelling and unenjoyable occasions, especially for the novice.

Now, out in the field it may still be cold but the clothing, facilities for the ladies as well as the men, and organisation provides an enjoyable outing if not for all the family certainly for anyone of an age allowed to hold a gun.

Churchill was established in 1891 by Edwin John Churchill, who set up a gunmaking workshop in London. It continues churchillcountryhouse.jpgto make its own guns, and has its own shooting ground, shop, corporate entertainment and sporting agency at its West Wycombe estate.

There are always special events on offer. Stag parties, hen parties, charity shoots and corporate teams are just some available.

For the man looking for a novel Valentine's Day treat, what about taking that special lady for a one hour shooting lesson, then finishing with a glass of champagne and smoked salmon provided by Caviar House & Prunier? Whether or not the girl proves to be a hotshot, champagne and salmon should have appeal. A very reasonable £115 for two, including clays, cartridges, guns and professional instructor. Go to www.ejchurchill.com




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NOT  just those out in the field but the rest of us could soon be benefiting from a development that provides clothing with a built-in heating system.

German company W. Zimmrman has come up with a unique textile heating system called Novonic Heat which can be integrated into all types of clothing to provide active heat. Admittedly, it has its limitations, not least in terms of washability, but for heavier cloths, the feasibility of insertiing heating yarns and panels conjures up winter clothing with built-in central heating.

US sportswear company, Columbia, has also just recently introduced a number of heated garments in its Omni-Heat range. On-going research promises a rapid availability of such apparel, that will have us all warm and toasty to face any future arctic conditions that our winters may provide.

The wonders of textile science do not end there. In the on-going fight against mosquitoes and other predatory insects, insect repellent technology promises new protection.

With more and more mosquitoes moving northwards, presumably as a result of dratted global warming, such products as Burlington’s No Fly Zone insect repellent fabric treatment, the Insect Blocker range from Columbia Sports, and the Nosilife range from Craghoppers may be leading the way where many others will follow.

Savile Row tailors remain steadfastly faithful to traditional wool cloth but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that science will find a way before long of creating a bespoke suit with central heating and insect repellent. Will it keep the moths at bay?