Husband and wife team have a handle on Fieldsports Media

Joint owners of Fieldsports Press, publisher of Fieldsports Journal and Gundog Journal, Selena and Simon K. Barr entered the world of publishing three years ago following the acquisition of Fieldsports Journal from BPG Publishing.

After a decade running one of their other businesses, internationally acclaimed country pursuits PR agency Tweed Media which is now in its eighth year of supporting The Game Fair, the addition of owning a fieldsports-focussed publishing business was the natural extension in the portfolio of this ambitious Edinburgh-based, fieldsports-obsessed, husband and wife duo.

“We felt there was an opportunity to offer British fieldsports audiences a new style of publication,” Simon explained. “We knew we could not compete with the history of other titles but identified a gap for a more collectible, premium style publication that focused soley on quality fieldsports and shooting with no tertiary country lifestyle content.

“Fieldsports Journal was 11-years-old when we bought it and enjoyed a great reputation but as an outlier to the heritage titles of the big media groups. We had a vision to elevate the production value, improve and grow the on and offline audiences, and to align the overall quality with the calibre of the elite sector specific advertisers. This vision become a reality and over the past three years, Fieldsports Journal has become firmly established as a benchmark of quality.”

News hounds

In 2019, just six months after acquiring the title, the tenacious pair launched the hugely popular Gundog Journal, which has just published its 14th issue in time for 2021 Game Fair.

“Gundog exceeded all of our expectations,” explained Selena. “We printed a pilot which sold out within days. We knew it had done well when people started selling copies on eBay for quadruple the £9.95 cover price.

“The social media pages experienced parabolic growth, reaching 80,000 organic followers in just a few months, so we quickly realised we’d found an audience that really loved gundog content.

“Sharing the same vision for quality as Fieldsports Journal, we launched the title quarterly and by the end of the first year, due to feedback, we took it bi-monthly.

“Gundog Journal is still the UK’s only dedicated gundog publication and has an extremely passionate audience, who in some cases appear to like their dogs more than their children!

“Our direct-to-customer model for Gundog Journal has been highly effective but eight months ago we were approached by Waitrose to list the publication in 200 of its more rurally located stores. It is quite an honour to see our title on the newsstand in Waitrose whilst on the weekly shop.”

Always a date in the diary

With their model of creating high quality collectible publications, the Barrs have proven there is still a thriving UK market for specialist print despite the wider traditional publishing market declining.

They also believe in the third dimension and meeting customers face to face, which is why they will be exhibiting at The Game Fair with two exhibition stands for both Fieldsports Journal and Gundog Journal for a third outing since owning the company.

“We love exhibiting at the event,” said Simon. “Our audiences are completely aligned and The Game Fair literally turbo-boosts our subscriptions in July. Moreover, how else would we get to meet readers and advertisers en masse, old and new without a national event such as this.

“I’ve always cherished The Game Fair as the ultimate gathering of the clans and this year will be better than ever following the hiatus of Covid. We will be expanding our stand in a prime location on Gunmakers’ Row and in the Gundog Village. We also have the honour of providing the coveted industry party on Friday night.

“I am grateful to The Game Fair team for all they have done to safely secure this year’s event with the obvious challenges they have faced. We, as an industry, need this event and I have no doubt the entire fieldsports community will descend upon Ragley Hall in their droves after 18-months of lockdown and isolation.”

Find Fieldsports Journal and Gundog Journal, Gunmakers Row stand: J697. Gundog Journal has a separate stand and is a sponsor of the Working Test in the Gundog Village.

Fieldsports Journal is published bi-monthly:

Gundog Journal is published bi-monthly:

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