Let’s talk about Driven Game Shooting Etiquette
If you’re like any of us here at Guns and Country, when you attend a shoot your going to be feeling a little nervous. This is especially prominent when attending a shoot for the first time – It’s totally normal and expected! It goes without saying that the more shoots you attend, your awareness surrounding game shooting etiquette improves. More than often, you will here both in and out of the field the same question being asked – “Was that my bird?”. We here it time and time again.
As we said just a moment ago, the more shooting you do, the more experienced you become overall. This experience is vital as it allows you to judge certain aspects much more clearer such as range, your birds, your neighbours birds and so on and so forth.
The problem first starts when you arrive at the shoot for the first time. You greet your fellow guns, you socialise and pick pegs. Then you take the walk (or drive) to your peg with your heart beating hoping for a drive that enables you to make clear decisions on which birds are yours, which are not, which ones are safe and which ones are not. Nobody wants to upset the host or the other guns for that matter so it’s important to have some nerves but don’t let it crowd your thinking and overwhelm your day. Even if the worst did happen and you did take a bad shot, provided it wasn’t a dangerous one, you will most likely find that your fellow guns will support you and offer what we like to call, ‘constructive criticism’. That’s not to suggest that you should therefore not bother judging your shot and your target etc. It merely means that if you do make a mistake, don’t worry about it. More importantly, don’t allow the thought of making a mistake throw you off either.
The actual issue starts when you are trying to judge whether a bird is your or not and during that thought process, you hesitate. Typically speaking, when you hesitate at taking a shot, you’re more than likely to injure the bird rather than make a clean kill of it. Good shots typically speaking, don’t hesitate – but this comes with time! If whilst out on a shoot and you become unsure about a bird being yours, or questioning yourself about whether it’s too low or not, it’s much preferred to just leave it. As we just mentioned, you could decide to take the shot and injure the bird which is not welcomed or accepted by the majority of game shooters. It much better and dignified to shoot only what you are comfortable with. If you play it safe, you will not go far wrong.
Another scenario is guns questioning whether a bird they had shot which lands near to a neighbors peg was actually theirs to take in the first place. It makes absolutely no difference where a bird lands after its been shot. Provided you shot the game bird withing approximately twenty degrees of either side of your peg, its yours. This scenario typically occurs with crossing birds, but don’t be put off.
Safety Comes First
Game shooting is just like any other thing we humans do. As humans, we all make mistakes from time to time. That applies to people just starting out to people who have been shooting for years. You are less likely to make mistakes though if you first read your bird and access it however this shouldn’t mean hesitating. It’s just one of those things that comes with practice and time. One thing that should immediately throw you off the idea of taking a shot is one aimed at a low bird. Taking shots at low game birds is not only unsporting and embarrassing, it’s much more than that; It’s dangerous. If you continuously take shots at a low birds, you are more than likely going to be asked to leave and never return. It may sound some what harsh but it’s dangerous. Game shooting and any other form of shooting for that matter is a dangerous sport. It is therefore our responsibility as shooters to make mistakes but learn from them. We’ve heard of some horror stories in the past but they all follow the same pattern of the gun becoming excited.
So what’s our conclusion?
Well, it’s easy to sit here and write about what we feel is right and wrong when we’re not the gun in the field about to take the shot. Therefore our conclusion is going to be based on what we would expect and what the textbook says. Firstly, don’t get yourself all worked up and anxious about taking other peoples birds. If you stick to what looks ok, taking into account the twenty degree either side rule we made mention too earlier, you can’t go far wrong. If you do happen to take a neighbours bird, apologise and learn from it. Our second and most important point is that of low birds. A shoot as a whole will naturally be more lenient with you for accidentally taking the odd shot at a bird that is not yours, provided you don’t continuously do it. What they are most certainly not going to welcome is those guns who take low shots and therefore put people in danger. Keep your gun up and be sporting. If you follow that simple guide, you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
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