Everything is better with friends and shooting is no exception, as Jess Smith reveals. She recently took a friend on a shoot day and it was a truly unforgettable experience for both.
There are many wonderful things that can be attributed to the world of shooting. But one which is often overlooked when talk and debate are so focussed on budgets and conservation is the sense of community and boost to mental health it brings. Some of my family’s closest and dearest friends have come from shooting.
The benefits it brings to the countryside are well noted, but the benefits to us as social beings also cannot be understated.
Throughout the season, a handful of my friends have joined me out beating, on the shoot where my dad is the head gamekeeper. These days were so memorable, filled with smiles, laughter, and good experiences. Memories made that will be held dear for a lifetime.
I’m sure the readers have many of their own, too. Bringing a friend along can really make the day even more special.
When you bring a friend along for a shoot day, someone who’s never experienced our sport before, they will get a unique opportunity to experience a number of unique and breath-taking activities. Everyone’s first shoot day should be a genuinely unforgettable and enjoyable experience. If you haven’t done it already, I definitely recommend bringing a friend along to experience their first shoot day and helping make it a day to remember forever.
Beating is an experience like no other. Not only do you have the sheer pleasure of being out in the countryside, you also immerse yourself in the flora and fauna.
There’s a lot to learn, too. About staying in line, listening very carefully to instructions, when to stop and when to start, as well as the very specific flag-waving techniques!
You will also witness what may appear to be organised chaos, all brought together to culminate in the ultimate shoot day showdown – it must be mind-blowing!
I still get goosebumps reaching the flushing point and seeing all my dad and his team’s hard work come to fruition.
The working gundogs are another joy to behold if you’ve never seen them work before. The busy spaniels, a blur in the beating line. They scour every inch of cover crop, bracken, and thorn.
The patient picking-up team, waiting with anticipation for that first shout, handclap, or crack of flag.
Then the shots break the silence of the sky. All eyes are up searching for a bird folding and falling before fixing to the ground.
The quivering intense wait of the dogs before being released by the handler to hunt for the prize with abounding excitement.
And, of course, getting to meet all the new faces out beating, is one of the highlights.
It’s quite interesting to see how people end up in a natural hierarchy. The naturally more assertive people take charge of certain lines of beaters. The quieter ones are being left to their own accord as long as they’re doing their jobs correctly. The ones who can be trusted with the important jobs and, inevitably, those who can’t!
We’ve had many newbies to the shoot over the years. And, of course, many inherited ‘oldies’ who are so valuable as they know the ground better than you do.
All are integral to the success of the day.
It is an honour to be able to enjoy this countryside of ours that we all sometimes take for granted. And, bringing a friend along to share the experience makes the day even more special.
To be able to wander in the woodlands, trudge through the muddy fields, see the sun glistening on the dewy grass fields and shining between the trees is invaluable.
Whether it is your first shoot day or your hundredth, the sense of freedom it brings has no comparison.