Having been beating for several shoots over the years, being in and out of country stores and generally just getting to know the local folks, I have round knowledge of quite a few syndicates and commercial shoots. Just now and again you get an invite to shoot a peg for the day. A week or so ago was just that occasion.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Do the groundwork. Don’t just turn up on the day all gung-ho. That’s not the way. Speak to other members of the shoot, ask what the etiquette is. If you regularly beat for the same shoot then you will know what is expected of you. If you can, dress appropriately, Jeans and a shell suit jacket are just wrong. I personally insist on wearing a tie, I don’t by any means have to, I choose to. Either way, do dress smart, it’s only respectful. If the shoot has a head keeper or head beater then speak to them before the day, they will never steer you wrong.
When you arrive, you will ordinarily be greeted by the gun who invited you, either that or the keeper will greet you. It can be a daunting experience, turning up to a shoot you know very little about with people you may have never met. Be polite, be respectful and most of all, relax. On most of the local shoots here the day starts with the obligatory offering of port, sloe gin or cherry brandy. If you don’t want to drink, don’t! no offence would be caused. Some shoots offer a bacon roll, always nice on a freezing cold morning.
ENJOY EVERY BIT OF IT
Depending on the size of the shoot, you might have whats called a shoot one stand one day, this is normally the case. Its simple really, You either shoot in the morning and beat the afternoon or vice versa. Hardly any shoots actually run the shoot one stand one in the actual sense. Please do make safety the foremost point when both on the peg and in between drives. Normally the keeper will give you a card, this will have your peg rotation. On the back is ordinarily a simple list of do’s and don’t including what can and cannot be shot and any fines if applicable. During the day you will be able to take in some magnificent views, enjoy the countryside and generally have a damn good time.
Enjoy the day and remember to tip the keeper at the end. Its not just good manners, that person has worked day and night to keep those birds alive. Do also remember, without the beaters, the birds would not have been flushed over you. Thanks for reading, I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings.