Despite the sweltering heat and the heavy rain, crowds flocked to the 56th CLA Game Fair to be entertained by a multitude of knockout attractions – Dom shares his highlights from the weekend

Getting In

Access to the event was superb. I arrived pretty early on the Friday, but even with local work traffic there was only a short delay a mile or so from the event. On the Sunday I turned up a little later and drove straight in with no delays whatsoever (the same on the Saturday, I arrived at 8.30 – again, drove straight in, no problems). The car parks were easy to get into, well marshalled and the shuttle bus service was excellent.

Gunmakers’ Row

The CLA is a massive show but the layout of the Gunmakers’ Row section flows better at Blenheim than some other locations, giving a logical tour of most of the stands.

I loved the Blaser F3 with the stunning Grade 11 Walnut – it looked like a piece of luxury furniture. Mind you, £63k puts it a bit out of my price range.

The Beretta 690 game gun looks a lot more attainable to your average Joe. At around £2,500 with Grade 3 oil-finished wood, nice laser engraving and the excellent 692 action design, the 690 is a sure-fire winner. The rounded fore-end and sleek, new top rib design gave it a real elegance. I can’t wait to shoot this one. The range of Zoli game and clay guns on the Edgar Brothers stand also attracted a great deal of interest. This brand seems to be gaining ground/popularity at quite a rate now.

Scott Country had an amazing new thermal weapon sight – priced at around the £4,000 mark – that is going to create a big stir. The image quality is very impressive – you could even see cold beer travelling down the throats of drinkers in the Gunmakers’ Pub!

I chatted to the .50 Cal team [top picture] just back from the World Championships in New Mexico. Total rifle nuts, but fascinating to hear what it takes to shoot a four-inch group at 1,000 yards…

It was great to meet so many readers. It is always a privilege and we genuinely want to hear what you think about the magazine – good and bad. It is the only way to make it better!


The gundog arena was a highlight as usual. It is so inspiring to watch the country’s greatest dog handlers at work. Top marks go to Samsalin Dog Rescue, whose team of volunteers gave up their weekend to help look after the many hundreds of dogs at this year’s show. Samsalin ran the dog crèche and dog ambulance service, both of which were in high demand given the weekend’s soaring temperatures. Those traders selling dog cooling products will undoubtedly have had a good show.

Clay Shooting

On the Clay Line it was fantastic to see so many people giving shooting a go – the BASC and CPSA teams of instructors were out in force and were kept very busy over the weekend. Showing us all the importance of keeping your eye on the target was the legendary John Bidwell, whose trick shooting demonstration wowed and entertained the assembled crowds and was as popular as ever. Joining the Clay Line this year were the Bath Muzzle Loaders, who had a long line of punters keen to experience the ‘big bang’ of these fascinating old guns.

Food for Thought

In the Game Fair Theatre the big issues were debated – Nigel Farage being the big talking point when he turned up to discuss whether or not the countryside would be better off in or out of the EU. While over in the cookery theatre, celebrity chefs such as Valentine Warner, Rachel Green and Mike Robinson inspired and entertained with mouth-watering cookery displays.

Just Browsing?

The gun trade reported that, in general, gun sales were significantly down. Is the CLA now a ‘day out’ rather than a ‘buying’ show? Is the British Shooting Show not the place to buy, or is online shopping making show deals a thing of the past? What are your thoughts?