Ladies, you may have noticed once the Glorious Twelfth arrives, the men in your lives disappear until 1st of February! There is one simple explanation for this, the Game Season. The Game season commences on August the 12th and runs through until February the 1st. During this time, various species are shot including Red Grouse, Partridge and Pheasant. A days Game shooting typically involves good sportsmanship and plenty of laughter
Initially Game shooting may appear a little daunting for any lady shooter, I am writing to reassure you that a day out in the field is nothing less than a great day out. My aim is to also encourage more ladies to raise their barrels alongside their men folk. Shooting isnâ€™t just a sport for men.
I recently received a kind invitation from Mr John & Jacqueline Barnes hosts of Holly Heath Farm Shoot in Corpusty, Norfolk. Â Having shot clays for Warwickshire College for three years I decided it was time to take to the field. The day was carefully run by Mr Barnes and his son Charlie, who is a part time Harper Adams student as well as being a part time Gamekeeper!
If, like myself you are kindly invited to a shoot whether it be official or unofficial, swift correspondence should be your precedence. Responding to your host promptly is polite and puts you in good stead for a relaxed day with your hosts and acquaintances, as well as increasing your chances of being invited again. I eagerly accepted my invitation, and asked my host various questions which helped my preparation for the day. My questions included; is lunch supplied? What cartridges would you recommend for your birds?
I believe in finding out as much information before the day as possible, resulting in meticulous preparation and minimal embarrassment! Some of you ladies may be wondering whether youâ€™re authorised to go Game shooting, however I can assure you that you no longer require a license to shoot game in the United Kingdom.
If you do own your own gun I strongly advise you carry your shotgun certificate at all times. You never know when you may be required to show it!
A days shooting habitually requires plenty of equipment from over trousers to cleaning rods, and quite often an overnight bag. Being a typical female this meant packing twice the amount of my fellow guns, my advice would be to leave plenty of time to make a list of equipment needed. Take time to plan your journey using Google maps, which Â should show you exactly where the typically concealed shoot is tucked away.
Ladies you may be wondering what to wear for a shoot day, follow the link below for my advice on practical yet stylish field attire.
So, the weekend of October 19th arrived and we excitably packed our kit and headed over to Norfolk on the Friday night. Yes, of course in typical country demeanour we burst open the bubbly and caught up with our fellow guns. On the shoot day morning, bacon rolls were served at 8am, therefore it was important to be up and ready â€“ lip gloss gleaming. If your hosts provide you with a schedule then its best to stick to it. It is impolite to cause postponements. If like me, you are lucky enough to be shooting with lovely bachelors, you will find loading your gun and equipment into the trailers very easy â€“ be sure to thank them!
Once you arrive at the shoot, be prompt to gather your equipment and put on your coat, this will show your enthusiasm and that you know what you are doing â€“ even if you donâ€™t! Upon arrival I filled my pockets with cartridges as well as my cartridge belt, ensuring I had plenty of cartridges for the morning drives starting with â€˜Black Water Woodâ€™.
At the start of any days shooting you will be briefed. Why? Essentially for safety the of all involved whether it be the guns or beaters! Although shooting is usually a relaxed and enjoyable day out, it still requires meticulous attention to safety and therefore all involved must pay attention to briefings â€“ especially if itâ€™s your first time.Â You will be briefed on what to expect of the day, the drives, lunching activity and any specific rules that apply for the shoot youâ€™re attending. Rules may include what you can and can not shoot or when the gun can be loaded.Â For instance, we were shooting in the Eastern Counties and guns were fined for shooting Grey Partridge, purely because they are scarce where we were. My advice ladies would be to get to know your Game birds and know what they look like to avoid any fines and embarrassment! William Powell stock a fantastic book â€˜Shooting for Beginnersâ€™ by Graham Downing which identifies common game species â€“ visit our showroom or website and take a look!
After the briefing you will take part in the draw for peg numbers, which will give you your location in the line of guns for the first â€˜driveâ€™. Â Drives are specifically managed areas that are covered by the beaters that push any Game towards the line of waiting guns. â€˜Coconut Groveâ€™ and â€˜Reservoir Woodâ€™ were just a couple of the drives on my day. Some shoots may have anything between four and six drives a day depending on the size of the estate.
It is important to know who is who on the shoot. The Gamekeeper will be on hand during the shoot and although his or her main duties such as rearing the birds are actioned months before the season even begins, they will play a crucial part on the day in organising the beaters to drive the birds over the guns! On the day they will decide on where to shoot and organise the guns. Beaters are used to flush game using sticks or flags towards the line of guns if the day is â€˜drivenâ€™. Pickers up are used to gather any game fallen at any distance away from the guns, they usually stand behind the line of guns with their dogs.
â€˜Roughâ€™ shooting or â€˜Walked-upâ€™ days are typically more informal. The guns walk the land themselves flushing out any birds, which are then shot as the guns move forward.Â Dogs (usually the guns dogs) are used to retrieve any shot or injured birds which have fallen. There are no beaters.
Most days you will be relieved to know, involve lunch of some sort in the gunroom or shoot cabin. Luckily for me on my day we had sausage rolls for elevenses and hot soup with bread rolls for lunch! However ladies be sure to find out if lunch is provided. A day out on the field is a long day without a packed lunch. After lunch everyone retakes up their positions and the remaining designated drives are then shot.
At the end of the day, the shoot party were escorted back to the shoot room to offload their equipment and the birds were then counted. From this a shot ratio was confirmed by calculating the total number of shots (counted using a tally counter during the day) divided by the number of birds shot. Guns typically receive a brace of birds each to take home. Itâ€™s vital you thank your hosts and all contributors to the day. Offering a tip to the keeper as well as your thanks is typically seen as an acceptable gesture of thanks.
Here are my top ten tips for ladies on a shoot day:
- Respond to your invite early to be polite and show your enthusiasm
- Post shoot, write a letter or send a card thanking your hosts â€“ this will increase your chances of being invited again
- Wear practical clothing â€“ no heels but lipstick is a must!
- Go clay shooting a week before if you havenâ€™t shot for a while â€“ get your Â eye in early.
- Ensure you take plenty of cartridges â€“ running out is embarrassing!Make a list of equipment so you donâ€™t forget anything â€“ borrowing ear defenders isnâ€™t pleasant.
- If you are unsure of anything always ask â€“ itâ€™s better to be safe than sorry
- Be modest at all times. Shooting requires attention to detail and the field isnâ€™t a playground.
- Try not to devour more food than your male counterparts â€“ it may be challenging but itâ€™s un-ladylike.
- Donâ€™t be nervous, itâ€™s an enjoyable day so embrace it!
If any of you ladies have any questions or hesitations regarding game shooting I am more than happy to offer some female advice. Feel free to contact me by email email@example.com or any of the team onÂ 01295 701 701.