• Arrive in good time; it is poor form when the rest of the team must wait for a gun to arrive. As a Shoot Host I find it really disrupts the day and may mean we lose a drive due to lack of time.
• In order to add to the sense of occasion dress smartly out of respect for our quarry, gilet or jacket, tie, breeks, waterproof coat and cap. However dressing sensibly and comfortably is just as important in our variable climate.
• It is important that each gun is introduced before the shoot day starts. In order to have sufficient time for this each shoot day starts with breakfast. Introduce yourself to each gun if the Shoot Host has not already done so.
• The morning briefing is most important as the Shoot Host details, hopefully briefly, the basic shoot rules which vary considerably from shoot to shoot.
• Remembering names can prove a problem to most of us. So in order to avoid the embarrassment of forgetting the names of the guns next to you, when we make the draw for the day you are given a card with the names of each gun.
• Gun safety is most important and there can be no compromise. 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. Always bring the stock up to meet the barrels, never raise the barrels to the stock. 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.
• One of the main points of etiquette is knowing what height of bird to shoot or whether a bird is yours or your neighbours. You should shoot safely at whatever you are comfortable with and respect your neighbour’s birds. If you are new to shooting, this is where having an experienced gun with you is invaluable. In my opinion a well presented good bird is worth many average birds. Crossing birds are always subject to much discussion and on some shoots you are not permitted to shoot crossing birds. In theory they are yours but I personally get more satisfaction in seeing my neighbour take a good bird. If he or she keeps missing any you leave it is then up to you! Greedy shots or anyone who perpetually takes low birds, which can be very dangerous, will not be welcome on our Shoot.
• It is important that all birds are accounted for at the end of each drive. Guns are most welcome to work their dogs but should liaise with the pickers up to ensure nothing is left. Please do not work your dog during a drive as it can be most off putting for the other guns and will certainly affect your concentration on your birds.
• We do not charge overages and always try to exceed the target bag on each day. The Shoot Host and Head Keeper work together to try to ensure each gun has a similar number of birds over them. This is not always easy as we are dealing with wild creatures often in difficult weather conditions. In theory for a rough guide on a 300 bird 9 gun day with 5 drives each gun should shoot 7 good birds on each drive. However my advice is to select your birds and shoot only at birds you are comfortable with. On some days you will be “in it” and some days “out of it”. We all must accept this can be the case. If you are “in it” all day, the other guns will know so it is better not to “rub it in”. Please to do not stoop to taking low easy birds just to achieve your share of the bag.
• Meals and refreshments are the important social side of our shoot days. They give everyone the opportunity to meet and enjoy each other’s company. Drinking should be kept to a minimum. If you drink too much to drive, it is also too much to shoot safely.
• Mobile phones should be used in consideration to the other guns. Preferably between drives and certainly not on a drive or at lunch.
• If you are unhappy with any aspect of your day. Moaning to the other guns will not improve the situation. Far better to take it up with the Shoot Host or Head Keeper who can possibly do something about it on the day.
• At the end of the shoot day it is most important to tip the Head Keeper. The Shoot Host will give you a guide and as ever tipping is discretionary. It is also most important to say goodbye to each gun. Rushing off without is not acceptable.
• If you have been invited as a guest a hand written thank you letter to your host soon after the shoot day is always appreciated and you may be invited again!
Any safe and sociable game shot is welcome to join our shoot days and 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. In our brochure and on our website I have tried to describe our Shoots and assess the potential risks on a shoot day at Ripley Castle, Mountgarret, Eagle Hall and Ashfold Side or on Hardcastle or Heathfield Moors or on any shoot elsewhere and everyone’s responsibility to try and avoid them. I ask that anyone joining a shoot day should read my Risk Assessments detailed on this website.