Shooters at the rarefied end of the market will be familiar with the name Schöffel. The brand has a justifiable reputation for producing some of the best performing and comfortably stylish shooting clothing…at a price. Schöffel is a German company whose name in mainland Europe is very much associated with its reputation in the skiwear sector where its formidable standing commands premium prices; however, the origins of its shooting products lie much closer to the UK. Indeed, were it not for a chap called Corry Cavell-Taylor, there wouldn’t be a Schöffel shooting brand.
Twenty five or so years ago Corry’s company, Bradshaw Taylor, was the UK distributor for a range of clothing and accessory brands among which was Schöffel skiwear, then a niche product in a fledgling UK ski market. Taylor surveyed the shooting attire landscape, then very much dominated by wax cotton product and came to the conclusion that there might be another way of keeping shooters warm and dry and, if Gore-Tex could take the place of cotton, without making them sweat either. He also took the view that whilst the resulting product might be a bit more expensive, there would be enough takers to justify giving it a go. And what’s more he knew just the man to produce it.
Hubert Schöffel, the fifth-generation scion of the business that bears his name, apparently took some convincing. Not a shooter himself and influenced by German shooting clothing which was very different and more formal, he was understandably circumspect. But persuaded by Cavell-Taylor’s belief and the fact that his British distributor had corralled the support of a small group of blue chip retailers, the first Schöffel shooting jacket (the Ptarmigan) was launched in 1993. Success was not slow in coming.
The company has now announced the launch of a range of clothing for the discerning fisherman. It will be interesting to see how they get on. Anglers – and this includes the fly-fishing fraternity at whom this offering is aimed – are notoriously stingy when it comes to what they wear. But you wouldn’t bet against Schöffel getting it right. After all, when they launched back in the nineties many of their competitors looked at the price tags and said they didn’t have a chance. It tells us much that most of those making that forecast have long since disappeared.