Once again I have been very lucky to be a guest shooting in Spain and have loved it. It is always great shooting and the food is too good, one just eats and eats. You can read my previous blogs about Spain here and here but this year I have two practical considerations to reflect on:
The process of taking guns to Spain and the pitfalls.
Is Spain good value for money?
The process of taking guns to Spain and the pitfalls
The previous two times I have taken guns to Spain it has been a painless process. I have had an in-date Shotgun Licence and European Firearms Pass and things went very smoothly. This time was different through no fault of anyone actually to do with the process.
First there was the whole crazy situation of what ‘metal’, as the BA staff (who were mega-helpful) call the actual aircraft, is being used to fly the guns. As you are probably aware British Airways and Iberia ‘code share’ for flights to Madrid. Therefore, sometimes the ‘metal’ or aircraft, used is BA and other times it is Iberia. When you book your flights to Spain and plan to take guns you need to tell your travel agent so they can put it in your ‘record’ and get permission from the relevant airline.
Here is the problem, you might book a BA flight number but it might be operated by Iberia and therefore be Iberia ‘metal’. If that is the case, you may find you have permission from the wrong airline to take the guns. Bottom line, there is no way to predict this because the ‘metal’ can change just hours before you fly. My best advice is book with British Airways because they unerstand the problem and were very willing to help sort it out.
On the subject of valid Shotgun Permits and European Firearms Passes (EFP). I renewed mine just before the trip. When the officer was issuing my EFP I noticed that the Chief of Gloucestershire Police had signed in the wrong box. The result of that was that someone had to go to Gloucester and get another one. Not a lot of apology! On the subject of the Shotgun Certificate they took away the old one but dated the new one for when the old one expired. Result, I had an invalid Shotgun Certificate for a week and at the airport. Part of the solution was having a copy of the old one.
Bottom line, when these licences are renewed, check all dates and signatures etc very, very carefully and keep copies of all your previous Shotgun Permits.
On arrival in Spain, you have to go to the Armas Office to pick up your guns and have them checked and registered in the country. That is easy. Off you go.
On the way back, the first thing you need to do is return to the Armas Office and register the guns leaving Spain and get the all-important yellow form which strangely gets locked in the case! You also need to fill in a form and pay €3.37 tax (1th Feb 2017). Then you go upstairs and check-in, inform them you have guns, pay your overweight/extra bag/shotgun fee (not sure which it actually is but it was £50 leaving the UK and €75 leaving Spain. NOTE – From 1st November 2017 – the charge will be £125 each way.
Bottom line, allow plenty of time for this stuff – get there 2.5 hours ahead. The process is actually very easy but there are plenty of clueless people along the way who can present some serious challenges to what is actually a simple process with the right paperwork and correct ‘metal’!!
Is Spain good value for money?
Even with the weak pound I believe Spain is looking to be good value. Estates like Ventosilla now run such a smooth operation it is impressive and the cost is all in. With the exception of tips, you really do not put your hand in your pocket.
Ventosilla’s single gun days concept is outstanding and proving more and more popular. I have now witnessed it working for three years and here are some observations:
All the teams that have come together have got along very well and often plan to get together again the next year while still remaining a party of single guns.
Everyone is delighted with the set up, some guests shoot 60 birds a day, others shoot 60 birds a drive, but there is no tension at all.
The estate do a remarkable and elegant job of placing people according to the number of birds they want to shoot and their shooting ability or focus on high birds.
In three years I have not heard one person question the counting of their birds. It has simply never been an issue.
No matter what people say when shooting as a paying team, there is no doubt they love the idea of quietly and subtly paying only for what they shoot. There is also no competitiveness because everyone is on a different plan.
As a result, guests feel really good about value for money.
So let’s look at the numbers:
€3,600 + 21% VAT for a single gun to shoot 60 birds for the day. Note that it is usually a two-day shoot but I have broken it down based on one day.
Transport from and to the airport or Madrid in a Mercedes car or people carrier, a drive of about 1.5 hours
Full board accommodation for two people (one gun and one non-shooter)
Fine wines, champagnes, whisky etc
60 partridges shot by the purchaser, nobody else
Gun and boot cleaning
Total cost €4,356.00
Add to this tips to loader (€65), secretario (€75) and house staff (€30). A total of €170.
That makes it €4,526 or £3,859 (Google rate 20th February 2017)
Note: Euro rate using Google at 20th February rounded up to nearest pound. For illustrative purposes only.
Add flights to this at £150 (gun fees with airlines would be £114 if you took guns)
£66.81 per bird
The UK equivalent might be as follows. I acknowledge this assumes decent quality birds in decent numbers and you can buy fewer, cheaper birds and that you may not need to hire guns in the UK!
60 birds per gun for 9 guns makes for a 540-bird day
Assume £42 per bird plus VAT or £50.40
Per gun one 9th share would be £3,024
Transport – assume £200
Cartridges – assume £82.5
Accommodation with fine wines etc for two people assume £400
Gun hire – assume £60 per gun per day plus VAT is £144
Tips – Loader £80 per day, Keeper £80, House Staff £50 – total £210
Price per bird £67.66 per bird
In Spain, you can pretty much guarantee you will shoot those 60 birds, in the UK, that is not the case.
Ventosilla pricing also reduces the more birds you buy.
The base price drops from €60 per bird + VAT to €52 + VAT for 80 birds and €48 + VAT for 100 birds.
Finally, if you shoot two days which is the norm, your flights costs are dispersed over 2 days instead of one.
This is, of course, not an exact science but it does give pause for thought!