Shooting in the UK

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Shooting game birds in Britain has been practised since guns were invented. When leisure time transformed a pot-filling exercise into a sport, different approaches evolved each spawning breeds of dogs and guns. From walked up over spaniels or pointers and setters to wildfowling with semi-aquatic retrievers to the formal driven battue, there’s a style of bird shooting for every pocket and approach. And we take pride in offering you access to all of them.

In Britain we are rightly proud of our shooting sports. Game management and conservation help shape and enhance our landscape. Wildlife thrives where land is managed for shooting. Over a million people are involved in shooting and many more enjoy the end product as consumers of pheasants, partridges and other game. Moreover, shooting makes a substantial contribution to the rural economy – often at times and in places where other income is scarce.

The Code of Practice applies to all game shooting, walked up, driven, wild bird or reared. Provided it is carried out following the advice set out in this code the release of reared birds is an entirely valid method of increasing or sustaining a stock of wild game. Indeed it is fundamental to British game shooting and its attendant conservation benefits.

Full details of the code can be found at codeofgoodshootingpractice.org.uk

Lingo

Nowhere is the saying ‘two countries divided by a common language’ more true than when huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’. Here’s a quick guide to some of the British terms you may come across. If you think we’ve missed some out, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Bag – the number of birds shot at the end of the day. All driven days and most other days are sold with a bag expectancy.

Beater – one of the team who drives the game toward the standing guns.

Butt – the blind used by guns on driven grouse days. Often built of peat and stone.

Drive – not motivation, but the term used for an individual area from which the game is flushed over the line. A day is made up of a series of drives.

Elevenses – a brief midmorning stop for a snack and beverage (usually alcoholic).

Flanker – the endmost beater on each side of the line who is responsible for stopping the birds slipping out sideways.

Gamekeeper – responsible for the game on a piece of ground. This includes vermin control, habitat management and the running of shoot days.

Gun – either the person shooting or their weapon.

Gun line –this is the arrangement of guns facing in the direction in which game is going to be appearing from.

Hunting – the term the British use for fox hunting with horse and hounds.

Loader – stands next to a gun on the peg and puts cartridges into the shotgun.

Peg – numbered location at which a gun stands. Pegs are drawn (picked) at the beginning of the day, and you move pegs after each drive so you are shooting from a different place in the gun line each time.

Picker up – dog handler, equipped with dogs, who stands behind the line and picks up shot game.

Shooting – the term the British use for any variant of the sport involving killing birds with shotguns.

Written more than a century ago, the poet’s advice to his son is as valid today as it was when it was written. These are the principles each and every gun, British-born or foreign, should live by in the shooting field.

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A Father’s Advice

If a sportsmen true you’d be
Listen carefully to me.

Never, never let your gun
Pointed be at anyone;
That it may unloaded be
Matters not the least to me.

When a hedge or fence you cross,
Though of time it cause a loss,
From your gun the cartridge take
For the greater safety sake.

If twixt you and neighbouring gun
Bird may fly or beast may run.
Let this maxim e’er be thine:
“Follow not across the line.”

Stops and beaters, oft unseen,
Lurk behind some leafy screen;
Calm and steady always be:
“Never shoot where you can’t see.”

Keep your place and silent be,
Game can hear and game can see;
Don’t be greedy, better spared
Is a pheasant, than one shared.

You may kill, or you may miss,
But at all times think of this ….
“All the pheasants ever bred
Won’t repay for one man dead.”

Mark Beaufoy 1902

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Wild Bird Shooting

From foreshore to mountain top, wild bird shooting includes some of the most formal and expensive sport and some of the least Find out more


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Walked-Up Shooting

For the fit, walked-up shooting in the UK offers guns the chance to earn their sport without bag expectation or limit Find out more


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Driven Shooting

Tradition and etiquette combine in driven shooting in the UK to create a sporting experience unparalleled around the globe
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