Going grouse shooting is perhaps everybody’s ambition that has picked up a shotgun. Stories of fast moving birds in wide open spaces set the pulses running. As do tales of vast amounts of money being spent on large driven grouse days. There is also the fear of an accident happening to temper the excitement, so what do we need to consider before accepting an invitation or digging deep into our pockets.
Grouse shooting is incredibly exciting and as the birds can fly at a different trajectories and speeds to other types of game often coming through hugging the contours at head height it presents several problems from a safety angle. When driven shooting the guns typically stand in a line of butts that are perhaps some 30 to 60 yds apart. The beaters drive the moor towards the butts in a line. They also use flagmen on the two flanks so the whole operation is a bit like closing a net. The guns are allowed to fire forward for the entire drive until usually a horn is blown when the beaters are too close to fire forward.
The guns are then just allowed to fire behind the butts until the beaters arrive on them. It is imperative to have a discipline whilst shooting that stops you swinging through the line following a bird and shooting a fellow gun, loader or flanker. I always stand in my butt and look in front and pick out a feature in front of the butt on either side that will catch my eye that I will not swing past. I then look behind and pick out features again behind each butt that I will bring the gun back down onto. Then when you run out of time to shoot in front when your gun reaches the features lift the gun right up and then swing around still watching the bird and bring the gun down behind catch the bird up and shoot. Many moors have butt sticks to attach to your butt on either side to help prevent you swinging through if they have these do use them but do still specially orientate yourself as well.
The other area of concern can be the flagmen who act as flankers. Sometimes because of the topography they have to stand quite close to the end guns and can interfere with your field of fire. If you are near the end of the line you must concentrate and be aware of where they are standing. It is your fault if you shoot them not theirs! It is also your problem if you shoot somebody in front in the line. As drives on a grouse moor bring in such large areas the beating line is often closer at one end than the other so sometimes the horn is late. As a rule of thumb if you can make out a face on top of the body then they are too close a stray pellet in the eye does not need much velocity to do damage so if in doubt do not shoot!
Clothing is also important as grouse moors due their height can be very harsh and hostile places where the weather can change very quickly so it is important to have proper protective clothing that is warm. They are also often wet so wear wellington boots or proper walking boots and gaiters so your feet stay dry and warm. As the birds are totally wild you also need to blend in so do not wear bright clothes and wear a hat or cap to hide your head. Enjoy the time on the moor and especially all the hospitality that normally goes with it but do not drink to much alcohol as this makes mistakes more likely to happen.
If you get a chance to go walked up shooting then most of the points يلا شوت made above apply. However the single most important thing that many people struggle to manage through lack of fitness or concentration is to walk in line. To shoot safely in front and behind you need the guns on either side to be level with you. For them to shoot safely you need to be in line! Otherwise it is imperative not to swing through the line as discussed earlier but you do not have the luxury of everybody being stationary so it is essential to concentrate on the position of the guns on either side of you. Some walked up days can be very physical so do check on what level of personal fitness is required. Not being able to keep up is distressing, not much fun and spoils the day for everybody else.
If you get the chance to go grouse shooting do take it as nothing is as exciting and stimulating . However concentrate on being safe, dress in the correct comfortable clothing and a fantastic time is assured.