Welcome to the first edition in a new series of ‘R&B talks to…’ where we sit down with friends in the shooting community to share stories and useful information with our valued customers (that’s you!).
First up, we chat to our great friend Paul Hill from Corinium Rifle Range about his start in the world of shooting and how it lead him to establishing the The UKs Premier Deer Stalking and Driven Boar Training Facility.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
Hi, I’m Paul Hill, now from Ledbury but I’m a Yorkshire man, born & bred. I am an alumni of the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester (now a university) where I studied Agriculture and Farm Management, and having gained my diploma I left to join the grain trade based in the Eastern counties.
I’ve shot all my life; my maternal grandfather kept a farm on the Chatsworth Estate and subsequently the Brodsworth Estate in South Yorkshire with a thriving shoot. As a child I shot with air rifles, and didn’t stop shooting throughout my school years & at college, when I first encountered deer. It was in my first months as a grain trader, as a 21yr old, that I picked up some stalking ground, and assisted the game keeper with their deer management.
What is something people maybe wouldn’t know about you?
I’m a mad keen fisherman; carp & barbel mostly. It’s absolutely my first passion! At the age of 18, I was offered a part share of the bait company known as Nutrabaits, started in a friends fathers garage! This went on to be one of, if not the largest bait company in the world! I cannot begin to tell you the regret I have in not buying in to that business as an 18yr old. To this day, it’s my ‘Dirty Secret’, there is nothing I love more than being by the water on a misty Autumn morning.
What is your earliest memory of shooting?
Well, I can’t give you full details, but it involved an air rifle and resulted in me burying something in a compost heap so my Mum wouldn’t find out what I’d done. I was about 8 years old and didn’t know any better! My air rifle plinking continued, followed with .22 rimfire and shotgun. At the age of 13 I was a keen school marksman in the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) and the rest is history! My Godfather and Uncle played a huge part in forming my love for shooting.
Introduce your business! Tell us more about Corinium Rifle Range…
Corinium Rifle Range was born from my own need. 20 years ago I was a full time professional stalker managing 20,000 acres across Wiltshire and Berkshire, with a huge head of Fallow, Roe and Muntjac. I couldn’t use those grounds to check zero, solve rifle problems or practice with new kit. I also had many continental clients who were simply poor shots.
A chance conversation in 2008, led to the formation of a plan to build a rifle range leased an area of farm land and shot paper targets from a shepherd’s hut. Gradually I allowed fellow stalkers and business partners to do the same and it was very soon that I realised there was a need for people just like me to use a zeroing/practice range, and so in 2008 I commissioned the UK’s leading range designer, an earthworks contractor, a web designer, and fought for planning permission to build what has become Corinium Rifle Range.
We are now a one-stop shop for all things rifle; how to get started, zeroing, practice & courses in deer stalking, continental driven boar training and hunting, African game training and hunting, Polar Bear defence training, Zoo keeper training and even Biathlon training occasionally! We have courses and facilities for all types of rifle; air, rim fire and centre fire, and serve all ages and genders, basically, if it involves a rifle, we can do it!
What sets Corinium apart from other ranges?
Most ranges in the UK are geared toward target shooters and the military needs, but Corinium Rifle Range is more for sporting and practical rifle shooting; pest, deer & boar control, with an emphasis on teaching humane animal control, and putting good food in the freezer. Other ranges tend to have many shooters at once on the firing point, whereas we work one to one. If you book some time with us, the range is yours to use exclusively, so you can achieve whatever you want to in a quiet and calm environment with me as your RCO, spotter, and/or instructor. We also have a Home Office-approved club on site.
What is your most popular course at this time of year?
At this time of year, we see more people applying to join one of our DSC1 (Deer Stalkers Certificate Level 1) courses, as the days are short and their time outside is reduced and they want to use the extra indoor time productively. We also see partners buying Christmas Gift Vouchers for a DSC1 or a monetary value to use at the range. This year we saw a huge uptake in the DSC1 course following Forestry Commission issuing grants/funding, so much so that we had to add another date to our calendar in April.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Corinium Rifle Range Gift Voucher, simply follow the link HERE!
What advice would you to someone who is thinking about applying for an FAC?
Oh boy, that’s a huge question and it would very much depend on what constabulary catchment area you live in, and what your personal needs for a firearm are.
We work with 7 or 8 constabularies on a regular basis and none of them use the same criteria to the next county, and even officers within a single constabulary tell a different story to their colleague. All applicants will have a need and usage that will be different to the next applicant, but a couple of things that go for of all of them is having patience and retaining a sense of humour.
All police will expect certain things from everyone, such as not previously prohibited, being of sound mind and not having intemperate habits. Some officers will need to see experience in the field having stalked a few times before, or they’ll want to see a DSC1 certificate, or both… Experience with an air rifle is unlikely to count towards experience when applying for a centre fire rifle, and experience with a .243 rifle may not count if you apply for a .308, for instance. Other officers will be happy with paid stalking whereas a colleague may want you to have your own land or land where you have permission to shoot. Ask what your FEO (Firearms Enquiry Officer) wants from you and work with them. Please remember that for every sensible and reasonable application, your FEO will receive several that are spurious and they have a devil’s own job to figure out what is what.
What’s next? Anything exciting in the calendar for 2024?
For the first time since covid hit we are very much looking forward to taking clients to South Africa once again in the Spring. We love it down there, such a friendly crew and vibrant ground… can’t wait! In the long term, we have ideas, big ideas….watch this space!
You can contact Corinium Rifle Range by email or phone here:
Tel: 07970 752275
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