Beater with flag on Beaters' Day
Beaters on the shooting line on Beaters' Day

Are you ready for Beaters’ Day?

There are a few important dates in the game shooting world that will be in everyone’s diary: the first shoot day of the season, Boxing Day or Christmas shoot day, and Beaters’ Day.

What's a Beaters' Day?

Arguably, Beaters’ Day is the most anticipated day of the game season for all involved. This is the day when all roles are reversed. Beaters can appreciate that it’s not as easy as it may seem to bring down that single soaring pheasant crossing the line when all eyes are on you. 

Guns will soon realise that staying in a straight line is quite challenging when jumping over fences, crashing through brambles and still remembering to crack that flag. Never mind controlling a dog! Oh, and you want to avoid the radio wherever possible. Everyone also realises why being on peg when you’re told to be there is crucial.

Having been on both sides of the fence on Beaters’ Days, I thought I’d share a few nuggets of advice…

Beaters' line

Beating on Beaters' Day

If you are a Gun on a regular syndicate or shoot, make the effort to attend Beaters’ Day – It goes a long way. Even if you may not be able to beat you can do something else; be a stop, pick up with your dog or stand with an inexperienced Gun.

If you can’t go, send a bottle or a few boxes of cartridges as a thank you. It’s your opportunity to show that you appreciate the hard work and dedication of your beaters who show up each week in all weather conditions.

If you are beating, take it seriously and follow instructions. There may be dangers which you’re not aware of. Those with more experience will know how to approach the drive and don’t forget, the birds will be much wiser at this time of year. 

Bear in mind that it is meant to be a fun day for everyone so we want to put on a good show of birds for the people shooting.

Shooting on Beaters' Day

If you are a beater on a regular shoot, you may get a peg on Beaters’ Day, but don’t take it for granted. There are many factors the ‘keeper needs to consider when choosing who to invite. There may not be enough space for everyone to shoot. But one thing is for sure, they will try their best to keep everyone happy.

So, let’s say you’ve got a peg – what now? The most important thing is to be honest and prepared. If you’re not experienced at shooting game or don’t have an appropriate gun, speak up. People will help you. A regular Gun might stand with you or be able to lend you a gun. You might share a peg with the shoot’s stalwart to learn the ropes.

Ask questions so you know what to bring, and what not to do. Some suggestions from me would be: are cartridges being provided? Will you be shooting ducks? Is lunch/dinner being provided? Are we having a few drinks at the pub afterwards?

Gundog on peg

Let's talk dogs...

As I mentioned before, Beaters’ Day is all about reversing roles. The same can be said for the gundogs, so we can’t expect them to be perfect in their new roles. If you get a chance, try to do a bit of training with them to see how they get on with the new tasks. And don’t forget your lead on the day.

We all know that our dogs enjoy the day out as much, if not more, than us but it may be worth considering giving them the day off…

If you’re a beater standing on peg, keep in mind that shooting game is not always easy and worrying about your dog can be an unnecessary distraction. Equally, when you’re a Gun beating, you never want to hear “Whose dog is at the end of the drive?!” on the radio. It’s your dog and you’ll make your own mind up. But you may need to decide if you can face that dirty look from your dog when you try to leave without them or being snubbed when you return!

Name of the game

Beaters’ Day isn’t about numbers. It’s about showing up and showing your appreciation. About the craic and banter. It’s about someone getting their first bird or wiping their neighbour’s eye. About friendship, fun and respect. And, of course, we can’t forget the food and beer in great company when the day is over!

On your Beaters’ Day, shoot straight, stay in line, and keep safe.