I first went to YorkGate Gun Club around 2011 for my first ever shooting lesson with Bob Agar who founded the shooting ground near Otley, West Yorkshire. This is where I fired a shotgun for the very first time and was introduced to the sport of Clay Pigeon Shooting.
It has been about 4 years since I last visited the ground and it has since changed hands, now being run by Phil Robinson and his team. On Sunday I decided it was time to pay a visit and go back to where it all started! YorkGate Gun Club is situated on the Otley Chevin near Leeds by the side of the Royalty Pub. It was established over 40 years ago and offers a warm welcome and a great place to shoot, with views across the Yorkshire countryside. The club provides facilities for English Sporting as well as coaching and training for beginners and experienced shots alike. It is compact which gives the ground a warm and welcoming feel.
The club is open every Sunday (with only a few exceptions for Easter, Christmas Day and Remembrance Sunday) from 10am until 12pm and Tuesday evenings through the summer months from 5pm until 6.45pm. Fixtures can be found here: http://www.yorkgategunclub.co.uk/YGC_Fixtures.html
We got to the club at around 9.45am and parked up in the large car park. It was already filling up with lots of shooters and seemed quite busy. The club house is in the form of a Portakabin and although not overly impressive compared to the likes of Park Lodge, they have everything you need and it has charm. They offer breakfast in the form of sausage and bacon sandwiches etc. and refreshments. I personally really like the smaller clubs like YorkGate, they are more intimate and have a very genuine feel about them. The owners tend to be on site as well and are always there to look after you.
The ground comprises of around 7 or 8 stands and a lot of work has been done to improve the ground since I last visited. Proper paths have been put down, the stands have been built out of wood and provide good protection from the wind and possible distraction from other shooters. A large banking has been put in place out in the field as well to provide a good back stop. It looks well established and very professional, the team at the club are clearly taking steps to constantly improve the ground which is good to see! The traps are operated with the Wi Clay systems which I think are fantastic and we had very few no birds on the day. Everything was clean, tidy and very well presented.
The cost of a round of 50 Sporting was very reasonable at £23.00 for 50 clays and 50 Eley Select cartridges. It should be noted that the ground strictly prohibit the use of plastic wad cartridges and anything over 28 gram load. Personally I couldn't agree more as I do not think we should be firing plastic all over the countryside no matter the policy.
The one thing that really stood out to myself and my fiance yesterday was the friendliness of everyone on site, not just the staff. All of the members were very welcoming, stopped for a chat and offered advice and a bit of coaching to my fiance when she was having a go on a couple of stands. It is days out at grounds like this that remind me of how great this sport is. We are a community of like minded individuals with a shared passion. Everyone willing to help and support others in the sport. It is a place for us to meet, share our hobby and meet new people.
YorkGate are also covered by Section 11(6) of the firearms act, meaning you do not need a license to be able to shoot on this ground so it is a great place to take friends and family to introduce them to the sport.
Overall, YorkGate Gun Club is a great little ground that is well worth a visit. It wont provide you the glam of some of the larger clay grounds but it has its unique charm and character that you cant find anywhere else with a fantastic and very welcoming team on hand. For more information you should check out their website here: http://www.yorkgategunclub.co.uk/