Ahead of the Glorious 12th we’ve produced an informative guide to etiquette on a game shoot.
Even in this age of social informality pockets still exist where formality is upheld. It is no coincidence that the areas of life where formality thrives are those in which etiquette is closely related to safety.
Etiquette is paramount in game shooting, primarily to ensure safety but also to promote sportsmanlike conduct. If you are lucky enough to have received an invitation to shoot, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the rules of etiquette.
An Invitation to Shoot
The planning for a shoot will have begun long before the invitation arrives in your mailbox. Gamekeepers will have been working round-the-clock for the whole year, building up to a shoot. Running a shoot is an expensive pleasure, being offered a spot on a shoot is a privilege and should be treated as a priority.
Whether you plan to decline, or accept, respond quickly in writing. Your Host will no doubt have a reserve list of invitees and it is only fair to all concerned to respond by return.
You will need:
A gun, a gun case or slip, cartridges and a cartridge bag.
Point of Etiquette: It is an important point of etiquette to always take more cartridges than you anticipate using. Running out is seen as a subtle judgement on the Host’s shoot, it betrays the judgement that you had low expectations of how good the shooting would be.
You will also need:
Hearing Protection, safety glasses, a game bag and possibly a seat.
What to Wear
If you are warm and dry you are much more likely to have a good day, so dress appropriately. Comfort and ease of movement are also a priority.
A Hume have a wide range of shooting jackets, vests, breeks, hats, gloves, socks and scarves.
Point of Etiquette: Like many sports shooting is wary of the ‘all the gear, no idea’ participant. Bragging about new kit may not go down well.
Footwear depends on whether the shoot is Walking or Driven.
If it’s a Walking Shoot you’ll need waterproof boots, or wellies.
If it’s a Driven Shoot you may manage with brogues or walking boots. Best to check conditions with your Host.
Guns, Dogs and Loaders
If you don’t own a gun, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask if you can borrow one. Regardless, it’s a good idea to check what cartridges are required.
You should also check what licences you require and if you need Public Liability Insurance.
Point of Etiquette: If you plan to bring either a dog or a loader it’s best to check the form with your host in advance.
Instruction and Gun Handling
If you have never shot before or your skills are a little dusty, it’s a good idea to invest in some instruction ahead of the day. You’ll enjoy the shoot all the more for a bit of practice on clays.
It will also ensure you properly understand the etiquette of handling a gun, for example: breaking your gun, closing your gun, handing it to another person. The safety briefing will cover this but it is vital that you know, understand and follow all the safety instructions.
Point of Etiquette: You must follow the instructions of your Host and the Gamekeeper. They are the absolute authority on safety and it’s their job to keep everyone safe.
Listen closely during the briefing. Even if you’re an experienced Gun you should pay close attention, there may be birds you’re not allowed to shoot, or areas you’re not allowed to shoot in.
In the case of a Driven shoot you will either be assigned a peg, or there will be a draw. Either way you must shoot only within the range of your own peg. Straying onto your neighbour’s patch is very bad manners. It implies greed, lack of discipline and is vaguely insulting – the implication being that it’s OK to shoot on your neighbour’s peg because you don’t believe they have the skill to shoot the bird themselves.
Point of Etiquette: Never shoot a low bird unless it is injured. It’s considered very bad form– the very definition of taking advantage of easy prey.
Point of Etiquette: Bragging of any kind is also considered bad form. It sets the Guns in competition when the idea for the day is camaraderie and sociability. You should never declare how many birds you’ve shot unless you are asked directly. Even then it’s best just to say you’ve had a good day regardless whether you’ve caught more, or less than expected.
The catering arrangements vary from shoot to shoot, from rather grand affairs to a tasty bite in a barn. Check with your host in advance. A change of footwear may be required and its certainly good manners to take off wet clothes and boots before heading inside.
Point of Etiquette: Be careful about alcohol intake. Every year there are thousands of accidents on shoots. Best to act as you would if you were driving and save the fun for after the guns have been broken for the day.
Post- Shoot Etiquette
Once the shoot has concluded, the Gamekeeper will count the bags. Offer to help out with whatever needs done.
You will be offered a brace which you should accept in all circumstances.
Gifts and Tips
Tipping the Gamekeeper is the norm. Ask your Host what would be an appropriate amount, dependent on the Shoot it can vary from £40-£100.
A gift for your Host is also good manners. A Hume have a fine selection of gifts.
Don’t forget to write to thank your Host.
If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, please ‘like’ and ‘share’ using the social buttons.