Like any sport, shooting is dependent on the introduction of new blood, as it were, to the ranks of its participants. Everyone has to start somewhere. Novices, whether a young person or a more ‘mature’ beginner, are the life blood of any sport. The manner of one’s introduction to shooting can make or break a lifetime’s passion and enjoyment.
Most shoots, mindful of this, are welcoming of novices, provided the structure to support their learning is in place. We all remember our first day’s game shooting - that mixture of excitement mingled with the abject terror of getting it wrong. There’s nothing like a novice stood on a peg for the first time looking nervous (or in some cases scared witless) to bring out the compassion and generosity in fellow guns, beaters, pickers-up and loaders. We want you to succeed, to fall head over heels for the sport we love, and, given half a chance, are more than happy to help.
Top Tips for Novice Shots
Rule number one should be to admit you’re a novice. All of the best shots in the country started as novices. The inherent belief, particularly true of males, in one’s innate ability to shoot a gun (after all you’ve been using everything from a stick to a banana as a weapon since pre-school) is the first sacred cow to be tumbled. Very few of us have a latent talent as sharpshooters. This is a sporting skill like any other, to be gained, improved upon and honed through plenty of practice and competent instruction. Having fired a few rounds at clays on a corporate day or at a country fair doesn’t make an experienced shot, game or otherwise. And to be frank, you can’t fake it until you make it.
Why, when you’re spending good money or accepting a kind invitation, would you not fork out a little more to have someone stood with you? Whatever you call them - coach, minder, loader - your buddy for the day will not only help you to shoot straighter, but also explain what’s going on behind the scenes: Why there’s a man on the hill waving a flag; which are your birds, which are your neighbour’s, and why; what is ok to shoot and what is not. This insight into the shoot, the farming practices and the wildlife that you’ll see will make you a better, more complete, shot and companion in the field. And it will furnish you with plenty of interesting facts and anecdotes on which to dine out and impress to boot.
Introduction to Game Shooting Course
If it’s something you’ve always wanted to try and don’t have anyone you feel you can ask, never fear! Outside Days and Farlows have the perfect solution!
We are collaborating to create an introduction to game shooting break in 2016. This is the ideal way to go from complete novice to informed, polite, and accomplished beginner: from an insight into the black art of game-keeping to deciphering the minefield that is shoot day etiquette, this beginner’s guide to game shooting offers the information necessary to turn yourself into the perfect gun or guest on a shoot day.
If you want to find out more or book a space, please drop an email to: [email protected]
While practising on clays will help with gun mount and accuracy, there are so many more facets to make a good day’s game shooting. A safe, polite, well-mannered and cheerful gun is always welcome regardless of their prowess. And infinitely easier to achieve than prowess with one’s weapon.
Alternatively, if you’re an experienced shot, why not invite someone new to the sport out for the day? Whether you arrange them their own peg with attendant loader, or get them to stand with you and have a few shots, there’s unexpected benefits to sharing the joy you find in your sport of choice. Not to mention cultivating one’s list of available companions in the field. Introduce just one person a season to game shooting, and before long you’ll have a whole new team to have fun with. Then there are the reciprocal invites from grateful friends with a newly discovered passion and the understanding of just how to express their appreciation!
Historically, novice guns cut their teeth on boundary days, walking hedges in search of the odd rabbit, pheasant or pigeon. Of course historically this would be a simple matter of poking about the edges of one’s family farm or estate. Today, this sort of shooting is much less available as demands on the land increase, and not every aspiring gun (in fact I’d hazard most) has access to such a training facility.
To be honest in many ways a driven day, either fully fledged or mini is a better introduction. The novice gun only has to concentrate on safety, etiquette and shooting while stood still as opposed to trying to get all of the elements right while perambulating…normally over uneven and challenging terrain. Driven days don’t have to cost a fortune or sport an enormous bag to be an effective training ground for shooting skill, safety and etiquette. Many shoots run mini-driven days with bags of 30-100 birds which provide plenty of shooting to give people some experience without breaking the bank.