Going shooting for the first time? Read this.

We run some extremely senior shoot days, but we also introduce guns to game shooting at relaxed, low bag days. We often send out a note to these guns, and this post gives a new guns a few tips. 

What to wear for a day driven shooting:

Most people wear:

  • shirt and tie
  • normal trousers (chinos, moleskins etc) tucked into wellies or short shooting trousers (plus fours or breeks); either works well so no need to rush out and buy new kit.
  • Waterproof / warm coat
  • Cap or hat

The most important thing is that you are warm and dry.

How the shooting day will pan out:

We will meet for a safety briefing from the keeper. Before we turn up do also read this piece which has useful tips for us all (and pictures).

The keeper will get us to sign a disclaimer to the effect that we each have individual insurance and that those without a shotgun certificate will have someone with them.  Having insurance is obligatory at this particular ground and it is your responsibility to organise it.

It is likely that the keeper will tell us what we can shoot and what we can not.  You should assume that we will not shoot any ground game - that is, hares, foxes or deer. We will probably shoot pheasants, partridges, pigeon and verim (i.e. jays.)

We will split into two groups: one group will stand in position (known as ‘on peg’), the others (the beating team or ‘beaters’) will walk through crops or woodland to flush birds over the guns.

Please be especially careful not to mix up 12 gauge, 16 gauge & 20 gauge cartridges (the latter are normally but not always yellow). A smaller size (say a 20-bore) can be inadvertently loaded into a 12-bore gun and lodge in the barrel. If a 12-bore cartridge is then loaded and fired, it can burst the barrel and cause major injuries.

You should carry your empty gun in a gun sleeve to and from your peg. When you take your gun from its sleeve always keep the barrels pointing down or straight up.

The action

During the drive you birds will fly towards you. If it is silhouetted against the sky and you think the shot is safe you should shoot it. If it silhouetted against trees or the ground do not. When loading your gun, always bring the stock up to meet the barrels, rather than raising the barrels to the stock. This way the barrels are pointing at the ground when you load the gun.

There will be beaters/your friends/your fellow guns in front of you and others around you. If your gun is loaded and closed the barrel must be pointed at the ground or up in the air. If you wish to rest your gun over your arm it must be broken. When the drive is over there will= be a whistle or horn that will sound. Unload your gun at this point, put it back in the gunslip (checking it is unloaded again just before you do), and then pick up the dead birds around you.

Tidying up

If the birds are not dead and you are unsure about what to do, ask someone to dispatch them. Pick up your empty cartridges; there will be somewhere to put them. If we are offered some of the birds we have shot it is normal (and polite) to take them home.


Gavin Lockhart-Mirams