Fantastic kit is useless without a practical way to transport it to the shoot. For EJ Churchill managing director Rob Fenwick, a do-it-yourself effort is now invaluable throughout the season
With a sliding compartment for guns, hidey hole of ammo, enough room for wet clothes and even a dog bed, complete with electric blanket, for the lab – Rob Fenwick couldn’t be without his shooting box. Though he doesn’t expect to score top marks in woodwork any time soon.
Find out what Jonathan Irby from Purdey couldn’t be without in the field, read my favourite bit of kit: Jonathan Irby. His fear of misplacing it is so great that Audley House are busy designing a replacement.
There were many answers I could have given to this but then I thought about all the things I have in the back of my car, without which I would be lost. Then it struck me that the best bit of shooting kit I had was actually the device that houses all this kit throughout the season in the back of my car. My wonderful, handmade (by me), shooting box. Ok, I know it’s not a stunning, £8,000 piece of furniture made out of burred walnut, just a simple-looking device born out of my garage from some MDF.
In terms of practicability, it is brilliant. The shooting box has a sliding compartment underneath, into which you can slide at least four guns, still in their slips. They are then safely stored away, out of sight, and can stay in here without having to be broken down and laid on top of everything on the back seat. It also has a hidden area for two slabs of cartridges to be stored as emergency supplies.
As I have a labrador, I had to balance carrying the kit I needed to take with me from shoot to shoot, while travelling all around the country, with having a happy dog area. I can be away for days on end so needed to think about wet clothes and a wet dog, too. So, the top area has a compartment where the dog sleeps, which is separate to all my shooting clothing. To overcome the wet-dog situation, it has high sides all around that contain any mud or mess. It also has a small, electric blanket that connects to the cigarette lighter. This dries her off and keeps her warm in the cold months. It is ideal when she has to sleep in the car if the hotel won’t let her in, too.
On the left-hand side there is an area to store many jackets, over trousers, pliers, tape, hats, glasses, chocolate bars, first-aid kit, refrigerated box (for soft drinks and champagne – who says I have gone soft). You name it, it’s all in here and there is generally enough kit to fit out a whole shooting party or help those who have forgotten anything.
Last but not least, on the bottom right it has a quick-access cubby hole for things I need to grab at the last minute if I’m in a rush: dog whistle, ear defenders, sun glasses, grouse butt markers, hand warmers, gloves and all those knick knacks that get lost easily throughout the season.
I then needed to think practically about what I’d do when something goes wrong: changing a wheel, for example, that is stored under the boot. As it’s MDF it doesn’t weigh a tonne, like the bespoke boxes, so if
I need to change a wheel, I can empty the contents and lift the box out on my own.
The worst thing about my gun box is that, all season, I get friends saying: “Did you make that shooting box, Rob?” This is followed by: “Of course he did, look at it.” Woodwork was never my strong subject at school.
Rob Fenwick is managing director at EJ Churchill.