Scene: two long-term, highly competitive partners armed with bows, arrows and shotguns. Recipe for disaster, or fun day out? Thanks to NewZengland owner and operator Neil Gubby, it is always certain to be the latter!

Hailing originally from the U.K. but now residing in Methven, Neil is a skilled shooter with over 30 years’ experience who came out to Terrace Downs nearly four years ago for an unsuspecting round of golf. While there, he got talking to a manager about the grounds’ archery and clay bird shooting programme, which was in need of reinvention. Three and a half years later, Neil now runs NewZengland, an archery, clay bird shooting, and mini golf trio that both locals and tourists from around the world come to for a unique, entertaining, exciting experience.

When my partner Nick and I went to Terrace Downs to meet Neil on a grey, drizzly afternoon, we weren’t sure what to expect. A self-confessed townie, I had never held a bow and arrow before, and had only fired a gun very few times compared to my hunting-obsessed partner. Needless to say, I was nervous. As Neil walked us down to the forest archery range and chatted about the wide range of people he gets come through, his friendly nature and outgoing, helpful personality put me right at ease.

“We cater to everyone here,” Neil explains. “That’s our goal. We want to make this so that anyone can enjoy it.” As he sizes us up and selects the appropriate bows, he shows us the large selection they have on hand. From children to adults, beginners to experienced, Neil has a bow suitable for everyone. And he knows how to use them, too, as evidenced by the patient, careful way he instructs us on how to properly hold it. Under his watchful gaze, I step warily into my stance, take shaky aim, and let ‘er rip… smacking the target first go. A few shots later and, under Neil’s tutelage, I even make a bull’s-eye! I wish I could say Nick was as naturally talented an archer as me, but his arrows strayed further from the mark. Round one to me – you can bet I’ll be holding that one over Nick’s head for a long time!

As we make our way to the shooting range, I know Nick has the advantage here. Luckily, Neil is an excellent instructor, and takes his time showing me how to hold the shotgun properly and explaining how to aim at the clay. For someone who is normally a bit nervous around firearms, I was completely at ease under Neil’s guide. “We are very big on safety here,” Neil explains. “We make everyone feel comfortable. We recently had an 86-year old grandmother in a wheelchair out here shooting.” Well, if she can do it, I can do it – and do it I did! Even though Nick claimed round two with his faultless aim, I hit all but one of my targets, and had an absolute blast doing it.

“It really is a sport for everyone,” Neil says as I go on about how much I enjoyed it. “I’ve never really had anyone say they didn’t like it. We make the whole experience a sociable, fun, competitive one.” These elements are exactly what make NewZengland a perfect choice for anyone or anything. From large corporate retreats or work do’s through to birthday parties or stag/hen’s do’s, Neil and his colleagues host a fantastic, fun, unique day out.

“There’s no group too big or too small,” Neil says. “We never mix separate groups, either. We like to give it that personal touch, so you can really enjoy it with the people you came with.” And for those who, like me and Nick, enjoy a bit of competitive edge, Neil even holds a prize ceremony at the end. I may not have gotten an award for my archery talent this time, but you can bet I’ll be going back for more.