A couple of Saturdays ago, I took a rare day off to take my friend and client Henry Pitts up on his offer to experience a real English driven bird shoot. No, it wasn't in the UK but the air travel and customs hassles were probably the only things missing from the experience. Now, I know that there are a few places in the US that advertise "real English driven shooting" but this crew truly delivered the goods with four separate drives in nicely varied terrain, lots of tall birds to test even the best wingshooter's mettle and a fantastic catered lunch and libations afterward in the beautifully appointed dining room of the facility's restored 1880's farmhouse. It was the last driven shoot of the season (which runs from October to March), nine guns were in attendance along with a few more dog handlers taking the opportunity to work their wonderful pups. I think Henry even arranged English weather for the occasion. It was a chilly, damp and overcast day just right for the birds. About half way through we broke for "elevenses" (sorry, no alcohol until after the shooting) to allow the guns and dogs to have a little break and recharge for the second half of the shooting day. It was a most exciting day of shooting, and watching the dogs work was in itself worth the trip. Henry and his son David have been to more than a few driven shoots in the UK and have tailored their enterprise to offer American shooters the very same experience. As I said, this is as close as one can come without traveling to the UK, not a mere tower or circle shoot (although the club does offer those also). What is the name of this 1100 acre wingshooter's playground? The club is called First Mine Run, located in White Hall, Maryland. The driven shoots are not specifically listed on their website so use the contact page to get the schedule for the upcoming season. Their website is http://www.firstminerun.com/
If you've ever wanted to shoot driven birds the way it's done in England, but would rather not travel overseas with your prized shotguns then I would heartily suggest that you give FMR a go. An added bonus is that the cost is a fraction of what a UK shooting holiday would cost. FMR also offers Sporting Clays, Five Stand and quite a few other options for wingshooters.
Here are some photos from the driven shoot.
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