Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

In my previous working life of running a hardwood importing business and sawmill I am possibly more aware than most of the need for continual “Risk Assessments”. As well as describing our Shoot and shoot day, the following is a “Risk Assessment” for anyone attending the Shoot as a gun or non-shooting guest.

We must all be very aware of the potential danger a loaded shotgun can pose if used in an unsafe manner and observe all the basic safety rules of shooting in order to avoid any accidents.  
This is essential and will not in any way compromise the success and enjoyment of your shoot day. I have tried to describe and assess the potential risks on a shoot day at Ripley Castle, Eagle Hall and Ashfold Side and on Hardcastle & Heathfield Moors and everyone’s responsibility to try and avoid them. 

A few points to remember when shooting on all land under the Management of

RIPLEY SPORTING AT RIPLEY CASTLE, MOUNTGARRET, NIDD, HOB GREEN AND CAYTON, AT EAGLE HALL & ASHFOLD SIDE AND ON HARDCASTLE & HEATHFIELD MOORS

(Please also see information which specifically applies to each Shoot) 

• Everyone shooting on any area under the Management of The Ripley Castle Shoot must have a minimum cover of £10M third party, public and personal liability insurance cover.

• Each day starts at 8.30 a.m. with breakfast or bacon buns together with the brief for the day, the draw and cards distributed with the names of each gun. If you are running late don’t rush, just phone one of the contact numbers on our last minute check list and someone will wait for you to bring you to the drive.

• Gun safety is one rule where there is no compromise, if there is clear sky behind a bird it is normally safe to shoot, however if in doubt do not shoot. Shoot only at birds you are comfortable with and give you pleasure and please respect your neighbour’s birds.

• Guns should be unloaded and carried in a secure gun sleeve when not at the pegs. When you take your gun out of its sleeve, check the barrels have no obstruction particularly in snowy and muddy conditions. 

• When you close your gun, always keep the barrels pointing down and bring the stock up to meet them. Never raise the barrels to the stock. If your gun is 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.   

• Safety glasses will be available each day for guns, loaders and visitors together with ear plugs if you have forgotten them! I do strongly recommend you use these items.  

• When you are at your peg have a good look around and acknowledge the flankers and pickers up and take great care never to shoot in their direction. 

• Our game species are pheasant, French and English partridge, grouse, duck, geese, woodcock and snipe.

• Please leave any legal vermin such as pigeons, crows, jays and magpies until the game have started to come over, otherwise you may push the partridge back over the beaters heads and not over the guns. 

• It is worth remembering there are an increasing number of protected species evident and must not be shot or shot at under any circumstances. Maybe it would be worthwhile for all of us to brush up on our species identification before joining a shoot day.  

• We do not shoot ground game on a shoot day. 

• You are encouraged to bring your own dog provided it is pegged during the drive to avoid the possibility of running in. This does not of course apply to well trained dogs!

• Please do not pick up during the drive as there is ample time at the end of each drive. 

• Our pickers up will leave birds for you but please liaise with them on the number you have picked, as they count the number which should be picked up whilst we are shooting.

• Cartridges will be collected by a member of our shoot staff after each drive, leaving them in a pile at your peg would be appreciated.

• No plastic wads in your cartridges please, felt or fibre wads only.

• No shot larger than 34 gm, No.4 should be used at Ripley Castle and Eagle Hall & Ashfold Side and on the Moor, 32 gm, No.5 is the maximum which should be used.

• For waterfowl such as duck and geese, only cartridges with non-toxic shot may be used.

• We will always have available for purchase each day both lead and non-toxic cartridges in 12 and 20 gauge, suitable for all types of shotgun with 2½ chambers.  

• At the end of the day our staff will clean your gun, for a small fee it will be returned to you!

• At the end of the day the Shoot Captain will provide each gun with a card detailing the names of the guns and the bag for the day. 

• During the day we will run a sweep on the total bag at the end of the day. Half goes to the winner with the balance to our Charity Fund.

• Any alcohol should be taken in moderation. If you drink too much to drive, it is also too much to shoot safely. It should also be noted that some medicines, especially for colds and flu can cause drowsiness which could affect your capacity to shoot safely.

• In the unlikely event of disruption from anti country sports activists ensure the Shoot Captain and Keepers are made aware of their presence. Cease shooting, unload and put your gun in its sleeve, restrain your dogs and return quietly to your vehicles. Wait in your vehicle, do not lose your temper, threaten or antagonise them. 

Additional points which specifically apply when shooting at 

RIPLEY CASTLE, MOUNTGARRET, NIDD, HOB GREEN AND CAYTON

• Cartridges recommended: 30 gm No.6 in September, October and November, with 30 gm No.5 in December and January.

• Bird shot average is normally 3.50. 

• We normally field 9 guns

• Guns are numbered from right to left, moving up 2 after each drive. 

• There is a whistle to start each drive, the reason is to ensure the beaters are lined out behind the partridge, which you will see on every drive throughout the season; otherwise an early shot may put them over the beaters heads and not ours!

• If a horn sounds it indicates the beaters are in shot range and you must immediately stop shooting forward, but birds may still be shot behind. 

• There is a whistle to end a drive, when shooting should cease and empty guns put in their sleeves. 

• There are a number of public footpaths, bridal and cycle paths including the Nidderdale Way running through some of our drives and although we ask people to stop and wait until the drive has finished an increasing number are not prepared to do this. When this happens we will stop the beaters and cease shooting, until they have passed. You will be advised on the day as to how to recognise this problem.

• There may be the odd exotic species such as Reeves pheasants and Guinea Fowl which should not be shot. However to keep everyone on their toes we are releasing a few white pheasants and white partridge. As usual, if shot, a small fine will be levied which will be donated to our Charity Fund.

• There are facilities in the shoot yard to wash dogs and vehicles should this be required. 

• At the end of every shoot day each gun will receive a brace of dressed and chilled oven ready game. 

Additional points which specifically apply when shooting at

EAGLE HALL & ASHFOLD SIDE

• Cartridges recommended: 30 gm No. 6 in September and October, with 30 or 32 gm No. 5 in November, December and January. On our high pheasant drives from November onwards I use 30 gm No.4. Nothing heavier than 34 gm, No. 4 please on any of our Shoots. 

• Bird shot average is normally 4.60. 

• We normally field 8 guns. 

• Guns are numbered from right to left moving up 2 after each drive.

• There is a whistle to start each drive, the reason is to ensure the beaters are lined our behind the partridge, which you should see on every drive throughout the season; otherwise and early shot may put them over the beaters head and not ours!!

• If a horn sounds it indicates the beaters are in shot range and you must immediately stop shooting forward, but birds may still be shot behind. 

• On a windy day not all the guns may hear the horn, in which case each gun should put up his/her gun to indicate the beaters are in range with no further shooting forward and ensure this is acknowledged by his/her neighbouring guns.

• On many of the drives the guns are positioned in deep valleys. Please do not shoot into the bank sides as the shot may hit the rocks and ricochet straight back at you.

• Please avoid shooting just above the bank tops and sky line as there are always flankers in position and are easily shot.

• There is a whistle to end the drive, when shooting should cease and empty guns put in their sleeves. 

• There are a number of public footpaths, bridal and cycle paths including the Nidderdale Way running through some of our drives and although we ask people to stop and wait until the drive has finished an increasing number are not prepared to do this. When this happens we will stop the beaters and cease shooting, until they have passed. You will be advised on the day as to how to recognise this problem.

• I strongly recommend you have insect repellent with you.

• At the end of every shoot day each gun will receive a brace of dressed and chilled oven ready game. 

Further additional pointers which apply specifically when shooting grouse on

HARDCASTLE & HEATHFIELD MOORS

• I prefer if at all possible not to have any White vehicles on the Moor as no matter how we try they are difficult to hide and I know a number of occasions where grouse have flown away from the butts once they have spotted a White vehicle. Should you have a White vehicle we can usually arrange alternative transport for you on the day. 

• Cartridges recommended: 30 gm No.7 or No.6 moving to 30 gm or 32 gm No.5 from October onwards. Nothing heavier than 32 gm No.5, please, as anything heavier may well travel far further than you think and become a danger to our beaters and flankers. 

• Bird shot average is normally 4.50. We have some very fast and testing grouse!

• We normally field 9 guns.

• Guns are numbered right to left moving up 2 after each drive. 

• You may not be able to see the grouse as well as they can see you. If you or your friend standing in the butt with you are wearing bright clothing particularly a bright coloured shirt, don’t be surprised if nothing comes over you and your neighbours have an excellent day!! It can be a bright warm day at your Hotel but on the Moor we could have arctic conditions, I do therefore recommend you dress in sombre colours with layers of warm clothing. 

• I recommend you have insect repellent with you, it is essential on the Moors as the midges can be particularly vicious. 

• Ticks are present on some parts of the Moor. I therefore feel it is necessary to ensure your dogs are treated prior to your visit to any Moor. Brovactor is a new product which is very effective and only available from your Vet. No doubt many of you will be visiting other moors and I would not welcome your bringing ticks onto our Moors or similarly taking ticks from ours to other moors. Tick bites can be very dangerous to humans so it is also important to check you have not acquired any unwelcome friends. It is also worthwhile spraying your clothes at the start of the day to avoid attracting them. 

• An Argo vehicle can be made available for anyone who finds walking the Moor difficult, however not all the butts are accessible by the Argo. 

• I strongly recommend you wear safety glasses which are available to guns, loaders and non-shooting guests. 

• I recommend you have someone with you in the butt just to spot the birds – two pairs of eyes really do help.

• If you invite a guest gun please ensure you are aware of their grouse shooting experience prior to the day. 

• For anyone new to or with limited experience of grouse shooting, in the interest of safety to the other guns, flankers, beaters and pickers up, I must insist that you arrange for an experienced loader, instructor or grouse shot to stand with you. I have available a number of experienced loaders and instructors and can arrange one for you, however prior notice is required as the best loader/instructors are always in high demand at this time of the year. 

• We stand in butts, behind hurdles or at pegs. 

• Grouse shooting from either butts, hurdles or pegs is by far the most dangerous form of driven game shooting and due to the way grouse fly, swinging a gun through the line of guns is a very dangerous action and is responsible for most accidents on a grouse Moor. This must be avoided at all times. 

• In the past each gun has been given two safety frames/sticks which were positioned by the gun at each side of the butt in order to avoid swinging through the line. We have now fitted a permanent safety frame at both sides of each butt, made from black plastic water pipe. George and myself feel this is a move forward however if anyone is uncomfortable with this there will be four sticks stored at the side of each butt. No-one must shoot from a butt if the frame or sticks are not in place. Once in your butt have a practice swing with an empty gun so you know your shooting space. For guns in the end butts, the pipe frame has been positioned in order to avoid shooting in the direction of the flankers.

• Watch out for flankers, they will be in shot range if you are an end or second from the end gun; the purpose of a flanker is to keep the birds in the drive and they will move during a drive, so you must be very careful to know where they are at all times and not to shoot at or swing through them. Once in your butt raise your hand to let them know that you know where they are.   

• You are live in your butt once the guns on both sides of you are safely in their butts and pickers up are out of range. 

• A horn will sound on each drive which indicates that the beaters are in shot range and you must immediately cease shooting forward, but birds may still be shot behind. Do not shoot forward at any time if you feel a shot to be dangerous even if the horn has not been sounded. You should acknowledge to your neighbour you have heard the horn by raising your gun vertically and holding it away from your body until he acknowledges back.
 
• On a windy day it may be difficult to hear the horn so this acknowledgement of the horn to your neighbour is imperative. 

• Once the horn has sounded and birds may only be shot from behind the butt, you should also stand in the same position in the butt as you were in when taking birds from the front of the butt. When following through a bird it is important that you dismount your shotgun before turning to take a bird behind.
  
• You must not stand at the back or out of the butt as there will be no butt sticks to stop you from swinging through. I mention this as I know of instances where guns were shot on other moors by guns standing at the back or out of a butt. 

• The drive is over once the beaters reach your butt or if you are in a gill, once the whistle sounds. Shooting should cease and empty guns put in their sleeves. 

• Please keep an accurate count of what you have shot and mark them well. At the end of a drive wait near your butt until the pickers up arrive in order that all your birds can be easily picked up and accounted for. If you walk away birds may be left which is unacceptable. If you have a dog please work it, if not please do not trample over the area you have marked as this will destroy the scent. Leave your spent cartridges and birds in/on the butt.   

• Great care should be taken should you wish to smoke on the Moor. Moors can be very dry and a fire can be easily started so please ensure your cigarette or cigar is fully extinguished before you leave it.  

• At the end of the day, each gun will receive a brace of young grouse in feather with more available for purchase if required. 
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