Shoot virtual animals on the big screen and then tuck in to a festive feast (Pictures: Metro.co.uk/Smoky Barrels)

It seems no evening of drinks is complete these days without a novel activity to go alongside it.

We can’t go for a drink after work without simultaneously playing ping-pong or shuffleboard or darts or bingo – because otherwise how will our Instagram stories audience know how much fun we’re having?

A quiet catch-up? No thanks. I could be smashing plates or playing neon urban golf or throwing axes – it’s 2019.

The latest development in late night, drink fuelled, organised fun is the UK’s first dedicated virtual shooting lodge, Smoky Barrels, which is coming to London for the festive period.

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Because nothing is more festive than pretending to slaughter animals while sinking mulled wines and devouring a burger.

‘Cutting-edge Swedish technology transforms the traditional sport of hunting into a never seen before simulation game, transporting you to a shoot in the Scottish Highlands,’ reads the website.

Guests are encouraged to don Barbour-style jackets and flat caps as they pick up their imitation rifles and fire shots at animals on giant video screens.

After you’ve made your kill, you then get to see a close-up showing exactly where you’ve hit the animal.

The targets range from birds to moose to wild boar, and you get to shoot at these virtual beasts set amongst ‘the magic of a Highland Shooting lodge.’

As well as the shooting, guests can also expect open fires for toasting whisky marshmallows, deep wing backed chairs, smoked cocktails, mulled wines and a Whisky Wall.

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But not everyone thinks a virtual shooting experience is the best way to spark that festive feeling this Christmas. Animal rights group PETA had some strong words when we approached them about the new concept.

‘PETA opposes hunting video games because they glorify violence against the defenceless, encourage callousness, and desensitise young people to the suffering of others,’ said a spokesperson.

‘With boundless opportunities for amusement, it’s near psychopathic to get a thrill from gunning down other living beings, even in a virtual world – and, just as sexual predators enjoy on-screen pornography, it may lead to real-life enactments.’

A spokesperson for Smoky Barrels confirmed to Metro.co.uk that the company ‘does not condone violence against animals’, and that they believe passionately in rebalancing sustainability in the world’s ecosystems.

‘As such, we do not support the farming or consumption of unsustainable agriculture – both livestock and arable forms. We believe in returning to a system where meat (and vegetation) is sourced from as close to natural ecosystems as possible,’ they add.

‘Smoky Barrels is a lighthearted social entertainment concept intended to re-connect guests with the traditional process of hunting.

‘Hunting takes on many forms, but primarily land management and a way-of-life that offers a far more sustainable solution to meat production and consumption than modern agricultural practices.’

The ‘World’s first virtual hunting and bar concept’ has been brought to London by the creators of Mac & Wild – a meat-heavy Scottish restaurant, and guests will also have the chance to dine in a series of hunting lodges.

You can book an entire lodge for a maximum group size of 15 people – which will cost you £90 per hour. Walk-ins for ‘social hunting’ cost £15 and include a drink on arrival.

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