So I decided that 2017 was the year I would venture into game shooting and I booked up a few days shooting and beating. The shooting was pretty easy to find through my ‘network’ but the beating was a little more tricky as I wanted something local.
I found the Beaters and Pickers up Facebook pages fantastic and eventually found a local shoot looking for beaters and happy to take on a complete novice like me. Butleigh Shoot is a small, friendly Shoot with 12 days shooting a season so it was perfect for breaking me in gently.
The Shoot manager Will invited all guns, beaters and pickers up along to Mendip Shooting Ground for a little clay competition and some food. It was a great way to meet everyone before the season starts and get to know more about the format of the day on one of their shoots.
We set out on a 50 bird competition in groups of four. I was joined by two regular guns on the Butleigh Shoot and my friend Lucy, who I invited along for moral support. The regular guns, being traditional game shooters, were both shooting old English side by side guns and neither had much experience with clay shooting so I felt quite confident I wasn’t going to come last in our group.
After ‘scratching’ the first stand my confidence disappeared and I decided to just have a good time and forget the competition altogether. After discussing side by side guns and telling the gents I had never shot one before I had the honour of using one of their guns on the next stand. It was a Westley 16 bore side by side; originally designed for a woman as a Grouse gun. It was fantastic, and I went on to get 10 out of 10 on that stand and I have decided I now want my own!
I didn’t do too badly on the subsequent three stands and I ended the competition coming 3rd overall, which I was rather pleased with given my dreadful start. We got the opportunity to chat properly over our food back at the lodge. It was great to get to meet everyone, and I am really looking forward to starting my beating season with Butleigh shoot. Roll on October!