A venue for traditional wingshooting will soon open, tailored specifically for women - and it's about time.
Called the Ladies Shooting Syndicate, it's the brainchild of Blixt & Co. in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Ladies Shooting Syndicate is by membership only. It organizes splendid shooting trips to luxurious destinations for like-minded women. In effect, Blixt & Co. has transported the Golden Age of Shooting into the 20th
century for women with adventurous sensibilities.
The Ladies Shooting Syndicate enables individual women, and small groups as well, to benefit from the economies of scale typically enjoyed by a larger circle of shooters. These advantages include access to exclusive estates, better rates and of course more fun.
Members of the Ladies Shooting Syndicate can leave their passports at home and let Blixt & Co. parlay its expertise in the traditional driven shoots that have become synonymous with wingshooting in the British Isles.
For the uninitiated, a driven shoot takes planning and experience to create the pinnacle in wingshooting. Weeks before the opening day of shooting season, pheasants, partridge and other game birds are placed on the grounds of the estate. The objective here is to let the birds orient themselves to their surroundings. Professional gamekeepers help ensure the birds' health and welfare.
On the morning of the shoot, the guns are assigned their positions, which custom calls for a team of eight guns spaced 20-50 yards apart. The gamekeeper and his team of beaters drive the birds toward the shooting line using their traditional tools of the trade such as tapping sticks, dogs and flags. The flushed birds are now flying overhead at varying speeds and height toward the shooting line.
For hunters accustomed to the American walk-up shoot, a driven shoot couldn't be more different. With walk-up shooting, a squad of guns relies on a dog to flush birds that have been planted in the field - as early as only a few hours before the shoot begins. Naturally, these newly released, pen-raised birds can have difficulty flying. That means the birds are generally flying lower and slower as the dog startles them from the underbrush. By comparison, the driven shoot presents birds already on the wing - a much more challenging proposition.
While the low-gun method of shooting dominates walk-up shoots, traditional driven shoots demand an entirely different approach - most of them developed in England.
Blixt & Co. teaches the Percy Stanbury method. Its namesake helped make the West London Shooting School a bona fide institution. The Percy Stanbury method is still taught there.
The Stanbury method can be as new to American shooters as traditional driven shoots. To bag the high-flying birds, Stanbury recommends pointing your feet at one and three o'clock to the kill spot. There is a forward bias on the ball of the front foot for better balance in overhead shots. The shooter tracks the path of the bird while bringing the butt of the gun to his or her shoulder. The trigger is pulled when the stock is put to the cheek. This all happens fairly quickly, and taps into the shooter's subconscious instinct for pointing at moving prey.
As it turns out, Blixt & Co.'s founder Lars Magnusson served as an instructor at the West London Shooting School from 1995 to 2003. He directed the establishment of the West Stockholm Shooting School in Sweden.
In 2003, he was recruited by Griffin & Howe as its managing director of their Shooting School here in the U.S. In 2006, he moved to Jackson Hole to help a group of investors establish one of the first traditional pheasant and partridge shooting estates in North America. Blixt & Co. was formed in the summer of 2008 and is focused on helping land owners in the American West to create shooting related solutions on their land.
Lars' wife, Jennifer, serves as a marketing executive with Blixt & Co. and as the director of the Ladies Shooting Syndicate. "The interest in woman shooters is growing," she said by phone.
In forming the Ladies Shooting Syndicate, Blixt tastefully packaged its services for women shooters.
Notably, the Ladies Shooting Syndicate aims to adapt the traditional art of shooting to women - without turning it into a men's event for women.
"What's interesting for gentlemen is not necessarily interesting to women," Jennifer explained. "There's a slightly different focus: some women don't have the experience to feel comfortable to be on the line yet. We want to make a woman feel comfortable to be on a peg in a line of men shooters...and eventually have a full line of ladies shooting."
Jennifer will make sure that women who need the proper English attire will be steered to the appropriate outfitters who have apparel for the female shape; women who need smaller shotguns will have access to better fitting game guns; and women who were introduced to the art of gameshooting by the men in their lives will now get the opportunity to move out on their own.
In talking with Jennifer, one point came across quite clear: the Ladies Shooting Syndicate is about friendship and etiquette. Proper English shooting attire and a working knowledge of a safe and traditional shoot lend that theatrical atmosphere to a delightful day outdoors with a fine side-by-side and the company of other women.
"Basically, it's about grace, elegance and tradition," she said.
Blixt & Co. will go to great lengths to introduce women to the world of shooting. The organization provides certified instructions to ensure a time-honored and safe shooting experience for its members.
Starting spring 2009, the Ladies Shooting Syndicate will open its door to all women with a passion for wing shooting and the great outdoors.
Here is a list of their planned events for 2009:
Shoot in the West
May 1 - 3rd
Lessons & Lunch
Griffin & Howe's Shooting School
Hudson Farm, New Jersey
Girls, Guns & The Grand
June 5 - 7th
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Game Conservancy Showcase
Hudson Farm, New Jersey
For additional information, please visit the Blixt & Co. web site athttp://www.blixtco.com
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