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It’s a glorious day, rolling pasture and woodland stretches out as far as the eye can see. A flush of pheasants fly overhead; some fall from the sky to the ground below. Most birds are cleanly killed and those which are wounded are swiftly retrieved and despatched. Shooting majors on ethics and respect for the quarry. The key priority for any shooter should always be the swift and humane despatch of his/her quarry.

Always remember…

  • The shot type and load should be matched to the quarry species. Different cartridge and choke combinations have different effective ranges, so it is important to experiment at a clay ground before going game shooting.
  • Birds should only be shot at when they’re within the effective range of a shotgun and when the shooter’s confident in his ability to make a clean kill. Judging range is an important skill that comes with experience. Try guessing the distance of features when you’re outside and then pace out the actual distance. You’ll soon become proficient.
  • Watching where a bird falls after a successful shot allows for the bird to be collected quickly and despatched immediately if necessary. If a bird cannot be retrieved after being shot, do not take a shot.
  • Be sure that you know how to humanely despatch an animal before going game shooting (even if you regularly beat or pick-up). If you don’t, ask in advance and someone will show you what to do. You need to know how to use dispatching equipment, such as a priest.
  • We all owe it to our quarry to practice at the clay ground and become proficient shots prior to moving on to the real thing.
  • Check the shoot you are attending adheres to best practice as outlined in the Code of Good Shooting Practice.

By simply following the above rules, you can rest assured that the quarry you take hasn’t unnecessarily suffered and was respected.

Spencer Barber

Spencer Barber

Young Shot Journalist

I’m 18-year-old A-level student from rural Devon. The countryside will always be a crucial part of me. I spent most of my childhood outside with friends, building dens, climbing trees and exploring the countryside which felt like an uncharted wilderness.

A fundamental part of my growing up was learning how to use guns and knives responsibly; I now respect them as essential tools. I didn’t learn hunting as a cruel, outdated endeavour; I learned hunting as a way to maintain the bond between countryman and countryside. However, this way of life is threatened by increasingly intolerant views based on simple misunderstanding. For many, the countryside is redundant, hunting is cruel and the people who live there nothing more than tourist attractions. This is why in my article I call for greater opportunity to be given to people who’ve never experienced the world I live in, so they can learn to appreciate rural Britain too.  

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