It's time for driven game and Farlows Assistant Retail Manager and accomplished gun, Will Hogan, offers his guide to shooting etiquette with all the 'dos and don'ts' for shoot day.
Being invited to a shoot is always a pleasure, it’s best to reply promptly as the host will be trying to create a team and if you are unable to accept they will need to find a suitable replacement. Putting together a team of likeminded people who will gel on a day can sometimes be difficult, so a quick response is always appreciated.
Shooting Dress Code
Gone are the days where everybody had to be ‘dressed to the nines’ in formal tweed. The shooting world is becoming more and more open to different styles, albeit sticking with the traditional smart look remains essential.
A shirt and tie is always a must on a formal driven day, many view it as a mark of respect towards the quarry and to the people who make it all possible. Smart trousers are now becoming more accepted instead of traditional breeks, although breeks are a safe bet when you are on a formal shoot.
Functionality and practicality are also key issues and the marriage of classic British shooting style with the very latest material technology to keep you warm, dry and comfortable in the very worst of weather has driven the development of our fieldwear collection here at Farlows.
Shooting Day Format
After accepting your invite your host will send you details of where and when to attend for the shoot - it’s always best to be very punctual. An awful lot goes into making a shoot day successful and it involves a lot of people who working hard to make it the best experience for you.
As far as the day is concerned, first off the host will brief you on the format of the day, followed by the ground rules for safety which are to be followed. Some shoots stop for a lunch and then continue to shoot in the afternoon whereas others will shoot straight through until around 2/3pm and then stop for the day. These days often are accompanied by a heavy elevenses which is a pause in the day to refresh and socialise which, of course, is a huge part of the shoot day.
As a general rule we are not a gifting culture in the UK. However, being British, we never want to offend by not bringing something to the party so a bottle of sloe gin or port for the elevenses or end of day is always be well received.
If you are completely new to shooting and have been invited to shoot, the likelihood is that your host will arrange for a minder/loader to accompany you for the day and guide you on the dos and don’ts. This is a fantastic chance to learn from your guide and gain as much out of the day as possible. If you are already a regular shooter and possess your own gun, then of course bring it along. Again the host is the perfect reference point to check this with.
Drinking to excess and being in control of a gun is never a good idea or advised. Alcohol is often passed around during a day and is usually offered at lunch/elevenses. It’s down to the individual to know their limits and abide by them, remembering that you are in control of a firearm. Once the day is done and all the firearms are stored away safely then I don’t think it’s dangerous to accept the odd glass of wine or 3!
A gamekeeper will be floating around throughout the shoot day making sure everything is running smoothly and trying to put right any situations when things are not going quite to plan. During the shoot he is often busy but will attend the end of the end of day drinks to receive his tip. This is always a good opportunity to have a chat rather than just tip him in an awkward manner. Good questions to ask him are: How he thought the day went? Which drives worked well? How has the summer been? All of these are quite engaging questions, which most keepers will have an answer for.
The keeper’s tip is always a tricky one. It’s often best to ask the host what will be a suitable amount to tip. The old fashioned way is to tip £30 for the first 100 birds then £10 every hundred after that. Tipping is a personal thing though, if you feel you have had a good day and really enjoyed yourself then tip above the expected rate and do remember that keepers work long hours for the extra they receive at the end of the shoot days.
Saying Thank You
Writing a letter of thanks is always well-received. There is so much time and effort put into making a shoot day work well and taking the time to write and say thank you is a nice way of showing just how much you appreciated your invite.