Shooting glossary



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Shooting glossary

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Back Gun The name given to a Gun positioned behind the front row of Guns. Generally used when a high number of birds are expected over a certain part of the gun line or in partridge shooting where the birds fly just above the ground and rise quickly over hedgerows giving the gun line limited opportunity to get many shots away.
Bag or Bag Limit Is the agreed number of game birds that a shoot should allow the Guns to harvest during a days shooting e.g. a 150 mixed day of pheasant and partridge. The average shot to kill ratio on most shoots in the UK is 3:1. That means that for a 150 bag to be achieved, a shoot should attempt to put a minimum of 450 quality birds over the Guns. Weather, topography, shooting ability of the Guns and other unforeseen circumstances may make it difficult for the bag to be reached or for the shot ratio to be close to 3:1. Most shoots will try very hard for the bag limit to be achieved i.e. putting on one or two extra unscheduled drives (light permitting). On some shoots where the birds are flying very high and/or very fast, the shot ratio may rise to as much as 8:1 or higher. Shoot operators will know how many birds are in the drives and should be able to manage most circumstances to ensure the bag limit is reached or at least close to it. An experienced syndicate will understand the reasons why when a bag limit is not reached and will acknowledge the efforts of the shoot’s management to present as many quality birds as they could for the Guns.
Beaters Beaters are usually paid or volunteer village locals who under the direction of the Gamekeeper drive the game birds towards the Guns. The Beaters are very much the unsung heroes of every shoot. As well as a small remuneration for their efforts on shoot days, an additional reward for their seasons toil is Beaters Shoot Day held towards the end of the shooting season. Traditionally Guns would reverse roles and beat on this day as a gesture of appreciation to the Beaters.
Brace and Tipping It is customary for Guns to be presented with a brace of birds (two) at the end of a day’s shooting at which time the Guns will tip the Gamekeeper for the services he and his Beating team provided during the day.
Deer Stalking Refers to the hunting of all species of deer either by ground stalking or shooting from pre-positioned stands on the edge of fields and forests. Although deer stalking in Scotland offers hunters the opportunity to experience the unique Scottish stalking traditions and the magical allure of the Highlands (as well as breathless climbs, cuts and bruises from crawling over rocks and through the heather, and countless midge bites); excellent trophy deer of various species can also be found in all other regions of the UK.
Driven Shooting Game birds are traditionally pushed along (driven) by the Gamekeeper and his team of Beaters tapping sticks and waving flags with their dogs working close at hand pushing through the undergrowth, to a flushing point (where the birds start to fly instead of running along the ground) short of where the Guns are positioned. This allows the birds’ time to gain both height and speed before they cross the line of Guns so as to increase the “sporting chances” of the birds. The Shoot Captain positions the Guns on their respective pegs (shooting positions). The pegs are generally spaced between 25-50 yards apart depending on the terrain and vegetation and are positioned so that the Guns will have the birds presented to them in the most challenging way. With numerous birds in the air at once, a Gun is expected to shoot only those birds that will test their personal shooting ability. As a rough rule of thumb, partridge and pheasants below a height of 60-75 feet (20 – 25 metres) would not be engaged. Grouse fly much lower to the ground at very high speed.
Elevenses Morning tea break usually taken after the first or second drive. Generally consists of hot soup, sausages or savoury game pies washed down by Sloe Gin (gin mixed with the juice of the Sloe berry – a very tasty tipple) or champagne. It is considered “poor form” to over-indulge on alcoholic refreshments while there is still shooting to be done. Soft drinks and hot beverages are made available for the teetotallers (non-drinkers).
Gamekeeper A Gamekeeper is employed by a Shoot on either a full or part time basis to receive and raise the young game birds to maturity, manage the shoot environment to ensure the birds remain safe from predators and disease and to keep the birds within the geographic boundaries of the shoot. This is achieved primarily by habitat and environmental control and development on the shoot and long hours spent walking the shoot boundaries “dogging in” (pushing the birds back into the shooting ground with the help of various breeds of gundogs). On shoot days, the Gamekeeper controls and directs the Beating team (not unlike a General moving his troops around the battlefield) in an attempt to drive the birds over the entire length of the gun line in a steady stream and not just in one large flush. Depending on the size of the shoot, the Gamekeeper may be assisted by one or more Under Keepers.
Gun A male who is shooting on a shooting day be it driven, rough or walked up shooting. There are usually 8-10 Guns in a “syndicate” on driven and walked up shoot days (across the more open terrain of the moors) and 4 Guns in a rough shooting “syndicate”.
Lady Gun A female Gun.
Left and Right In game shooting terms, a left and right is where you successfully kill a bird with each barrel, in quick succession. The term is still used when an over and under shotgun is used instead of a traditional side-by-side shotgun.
Picking Up Team or Pickers Up Gundog handlers whose task it is to pick up all the birds shot throughout the day. Pickers Up will generally be positioned to the rear of the gun line on each drive so as not to interfere with the shooting of the Guns. Picking up should only commence once the Gamekeeper has sounded his horn to signify the end of the drive and only then after the Guns with dogs have had time to have a couple of retrieves with their dogs. The exception to this rule is dealing with “runners” (wounded birds). Runners should be retrieved as soon as possible to ensure they are dispatched in a humane manner and added to the bag total.
Poaching Birds When a Gun shoots a bird that was in the arc of another neighbouring Gun. Poaching is considered to be “very poor form” indeed in driven shooting. The exception to this unwritten rule is on Simulated Driven Game days when poaching is actively encouraged but then only when a Gun is on a peg beside an equally talented or superior shot. A Gun should never “show boat” at the expense or embarrassment of lesser skilled Guns.
Rough Shooting Usually conducted by not more than 4 Guns accompanied by gundogs to help find and flush game birds and ground game such as rabbits and hares. Rough shooting can be conducted over a wide variety of terrain but tends to be carried out on the fringes of farms and estates that are not generally included in driven shooting drives. A variety of gundog breeds are used in the sport including pointers, spaniels and retrievers and the increasingly popular Hunter Pointer Retriever (HPR) breeds like German Wirehaired Pointers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Weimaraners and Viszlas. Rough shooting is not dissimilar to “American Walk-Up” shooting in the way it is conducted though the dog handling and retrieval of game may seem more regimented.
Runner A bird that has been wounded but is still able to run and hide once it lands. The Picking Up team standing behind the gun line will watch for Runners and will send their dogs to retrieve them at the earliest opportunity that does not interfere with the Gun’s shooting.
Shooting Refers to the shooting of game birds such as grouse, partridge, pheasant, woodcock and snipe. What truly defines British shooting is the time and effort taken by the shoot host and their dedicated team of assistants to present the finest quality and most challenging of birds, while maintaining the highest standards of field sportsmanship and etiquette. Decorum and maintaining century old traditions are a critical part of the British driven shooting custom. This includes the exclusive use of break barrel guns in this classic style of shooting, the wearing of traditional English field dress and displaying the highest level of sportsmanlike conduct at all times towards the game and fellow shooters. Note: The term “Hunting” in the UK refers to hunting with hounds and is normally associated with fox hunting. Hunting with hounds in the UK in the traditional manner became illegal in 2002 in Scotland and 2005 in England and Wales, but continues on in Northern Ireland. Hunting is practiced today by setting an artificial drag trail for the hounds and huntsmen to follow. The local Hunts still have strong followings in their regional communities by participants and supporters alike.
Shoot Captain Is the person in overall charge of the day’s shooting and in particular, the conduct of the Guns and their firearm safety. The Shoot Captain’s duties include delivering the welcoming address to the Guns in which the conduct of the day is outlined, the firearm safety and OH&S brief, advising the Guns about the nuances of the various drives they will encounter, conducting the draw for the initial peg that Guns will take and their movement to other pegs throughout the day and placing the Guns on their respective pegs for each drive. The Shoot Captain is also responsible for ensuring that the Guns maintain the highest standards of firearm safety and British field etiquette throughout the day. He has the authority to ask an unsafe Gun or one that is not abiding by accepted British shooting etiquette to “slip their gun” (put it back in the carrying case) and to retire from the remainder of the days shooting.
Shooting Lodge Is a small country house or purposely constructed/decorated rooms specifically used for shooting parties, lunches and dinners. A Shooting Lodge may also be called a Hunting Lodge. Besides the dining room, the Lodge may also have an anteroom, a game larder and a gun room where guns and ammunition can be secured. On many of the smaller shoots the meeting and dining facilities are often less salubrious but still very welcoming.
Shoot Lunch or Dinner Most shooting estates offer the Guns and their guests a 2 or 3 course meal either lunch or dinner on shoot days. Game and vegetables harvested from the estate or purchased from nearby markets are usually served. Simulated game days usually follow the same protocol but in a less formal environment.
Simulated Game Day Simulated Driven Game Days or “Sim Days” follow the format of traditional driven game shooting but substitute clay pigeons for game birds. Sim Days are usually conducted over four drives and are more relaxed in shooting etiquette than driven shooting days. On Sim Days “poaching” of a neighbour’s clays is often encouraged if the neighbouring Gun is of equal or superior shooting skill. Elevenses and a shoot lunch on the shooting ground or at a local pub are usually included in the price. While initially designed to simulate driven pheasant and partridge shooting, in recent times, shooting grounds with the right topography have constructed butts so that simulated driven grouse shooting can also be enjoyed.
Stand One – Walk One On alternate drives, the Gun shall stand at a peg and shoot the birds as they are driven towards them, or they will walk on the flank of the Beaters as they drive the birds towards the gun line. Birds that lift and fly towards the gun line the “Walking Gun” must leave for the Guns on the pegs to deal with. Birds that break sideways or curl around to the flanks away from the gun line can be shot by the “Walking Gun”.
Tipping It is customary for the Guns to tip the Gamekeeper at the end of the days shooting. This is done discreetly when the Gun shakes hands with the Gamekeeper whilst accepting their brace of birds. Fellow Guns will be able to give advice on the appropriate amount to tip but it is always better for a Gun to err on the side of generosity especially if the Guns have had a good day and were pleased with the presentation and quality of the birds. Guns will also need to pay and tip their Loaders if they were present. Guns should also find the time to thank the Beaters, Picking Up team and Under Keepers (if present) for their efforts before departing the shoot.
To Wipe Someone’s Eye A term used when a Gun gets the better of another Gun e.g. when one Gun has missed his bird and a neighbouring or Back Gun shoots it.
Tweeds The traditional dress for game shooting in the UK for both men and women is Plus 2 or Plus 4 Shooting Breeks (knee length trousers), long shooting socks with garters, boots (rubber Wellingtons or leather), chequered twill collared shirt with subdued or game theme tie, cap and tweed shooting jacket. In recent years the tweed jacket has often been replaced with a dark coloured waterproof “technical” shooting jacket complete with large cartridge pockets. The wearing of bright coloured clothing, jeans and camouflaged clothing (only used during pigeon shooting and wildfowling) are strongly discouraged.
Unders and Overs As explained in Bag Limit, the syndicate should shoot an agreed number of birds during a days shooting. Most shoots will allow a few extra birds over the agreed limit at no extra cost. However, there are shoots that state in their contract with the syndicate or the sporting agent that they will charge extra fees for additional birds shot over the agreed total i.e. an agreed price of each bird plus 20% VAT. Overs payments are expected to be settled at the end of the days shooting with the cost being shared equally between the total number of Guns making up the syndicate. If the bag limit is well below that agreed with the shoot management and the reason for that cannot be attributed to poor shooting by the Guns, then it is appropriate for the shoot management to offer some form of compensation to the Guns.
Wildfowling Refers to the hunting of ducks, geese and water birds in the harsh environment of the tidal marshes and foreshore.
Wood Pigeon Shooting The Wood Pigeon is the largest and most common of the UK pigeon species with an estimated population of around 5.4 million pairs in 2014. Wood Pigeons are a major pest to UK agriculture causing millions of pounds damage to crops each year. They are a most challenging bird to shoot due to their keen eyesight and heightened sense of awareness and therefore are a popular sport for shotgun shooters. Wood Pigeon is a very tasty table bird that can be prepared in a variety of ways ranging from pie and casserole through to the traditional roast.


British Country Sports man holding a gun
British Country Sports shooting guns
Gary and Heidi Creighton at British Country Sports
Heidi Creighton
Shooting concept
man holding loaded gun
cartridges guns
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