Monday 10 September 2012

Market Scuttlebut at our Northern Clay Day

Ripley Castle

08:00, 7 September: Ripley Castle, Harrogate, North Yorkshire (for anyone who lives south of the Watford Gap), Abchaps start to congregate for our annual Northern region clay shoot with a selection of our Northern advisers and other intermediaries. It’s a crisp but clear morning; not a hint of smog, which throws me off guard – the London air reminds me I’m in a big city but this is the great outdoors and we are going to be shooting lots of guns to show just how country we can get.

As the teams start to take shape, guests from all walks of city life are represented: lawyers, accountants, brokers gather for breakfast in the foyer of the castle and general market scuttlebutt ensues. Tales of a mixed summer of market activity, the Olympics and ones own shootings skills seem to be high on most agendas. There is also a lot of talk of taking inspiration from Peter Wilson, the team GB double trap shooting gold medal winner. When Lord Coe talked about inspiring a generation, I’m not quite sure this was the generation he had in mind.

The teams are assembled with each of the five Abchurch members captaining a side and, following a brief safety word from Barrie the games-keeper, battle lines are drawn: we reach for our guns. There are five traps on offer, pheasant, teal, grouse, partridge and the devilishly difficult rabbit. The competition is simple: the team with the most targets hit by the end of the day takes home the glory, bragging rights for a year, and a rather large bottle of champagne. There would also be a prize for the day’s Top Gun so plenty to play for and it showed. Gun shots ring out as clay disks are turned into puffs of smoke with increasing accuracy as the morning unfolds.

By lunchtime and with the sun shinning bright it is time to retire to the castle for lunch, shoulders are already starting to get bruised but the chatter is still rife. The North of England plays an important part of the Abchurch business mix and it shows; with plenty of talk of upcoming deals and recent market activity it’s easy to see why this area still contributes a sizable amount of the Country’s economic drive out of recession.

Clay pigeon shooting at Ripley Castle
The afternoon’s shooting becomes more and more tense as scores are slowly added up and team positions are roughly worked out with only a few traps left to shoot – every shot becomes vital. The teams finish the day shooting a flurry of clays together before retiring once more to the castle for drinks and to await the results from Barrie.

It’s a tense finish with only a couple of shoots separating the top teams, but it is Topper’s team that take the victory from mine by a single shot (not sure who did the maths?!) and Sean Wyndham-Quin from Spark Advisory Partners was crowned Top Gun.  There are smiles all round as prizes are handed out and the teams mingle on the balcony of the castle overlooking the lake on what was a highly successful day of both shooting and networking. 


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