The C&TH Guide to the Shooting Season

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The where's where and the what's what of the shooting world, by Eleanor Doughty

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It’s time to brush up on the lingo, know where to learn to shoot like a pro, and also know which presents to take to a shooting weekend. So, fill up your hip flask, check that your breeks still fit, and make sure you’ve got your Hunter wellies. Here are a few points to check you are ready for the season ahead.

The C&TH Guide to the Shooting Season

West Wycombe Shoot

Learn the Lingo

And you’ll make friends for life

Bag – Number of Birds shot in one day

Gun– As in your shotgun and also what you call other people who are shooting.

Drives –  The locations for each shoot; sometimes in the woods, or on an actual drive, or elsewhere up a hill somewhere.

Side-By-Side – Style of shotgun where the barrels lie horizontally next to each other; preferred by traditionalists and old- fashioned shoots.

Over and Under – Style of shotgun where the barrels lie on top of each other.

Peg – Position from which you shoot, numbered.

To wipe someone’s eye – what happens when someone misses a bird and then their neighbour shoots it instead.

‘Bore’ as in, 12 -Bore – The diameter of your gun’s barrel (not the dullard next to you at supper last night)

The Glorious Twelfth – 12 August, the start of the Grouse season.

Brace – Pair, of birds.

Best Locations for a Day Out          

Beg an invitation to one of these shooting locations 

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

Stowell Park – Gloucestershire, home to the Vestey Family

Blenheim Palace –  Oxfordshire, home to the Duke of Marlborough

Floors Castle – Borders, home to the Duke of Roxburghe

Alnwick Castle – Northumberland, home to the Duke of Northumberland

Back to School

Where to learn to shoot like a pro (or a toff) 

Shooting school

Roxburghe Shooting School – Kelso, Scottish Borders. Lessons from £65

Bywell Shooting Ground – Felton, Northumberland. Lessons from £71.50

West Midlands Shooting Ground – Market, Drayton, Shropshire. Lessons from £65 

EJ Churchill – West Wycombe Estate, Buckinghamshire. Lessons from £160 

Barbury Shooting School – Swindon, Wiltshire. Lessons from £80

West London Shooting School – Northolt, Ealing. Lessons from £99

Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds – Northwood. Lessons from £112

North Wales Shooting School – Deeside, Flintshire. Lessons from £71 

The C&TH Guide to Women-Only Shooting Clubs

Top Teachers

Get these instructors to show you what’s what 

Jono Irby (Purdey)

Alastair Phillips (William Evans)

John Ward (Ray Ward)

Steve Rawsthorne (Holland & Holland)

Paul West (William & Son)


Charm the Host

The best presents to take 

Fortum & Mason – Who can resist the charming green packaging?

Booze – Always appreciated. But don’t just bring a bottle because that looks stingy. If you happen to make your own small-batch gin like Gordon Castle, so much the better and an Asprey stag head decanter will never get turned down.

Something edible you’ve made yourself – Marmalade is a good shout, if you’re into that. Or if you’ve a family speciality- say, Longleat cake- then opt for that. Applies to all country invitations, really. Avoid candles. Everyone has too many these days.

A funny loo book – can be a bonus gift

Best Restaurants for Game Season

The Etiquette

Don’t you dare…

Moan – It’s supposed to be FUN

Get drunk – You wouldn’t drink and drive now, would you?

Wear bright colours– The birds don’t like them, neither do your friends

Ask who else is coming – When you’re invited to shoot. Just turn up happy to see whoever is there and rest assured that your host will have the guest list covered.

Whatsapp/Instagram/Live/FaceTime – the nanny all day. Put your phone away, no one cares

Brag about – how many you shot. Again, no one cares.

Turn up looking a compete mess – Do at least try to make an effort. Gentlemen, collar and tie, please.

But equally… don’t wear a face full of makeup, ladies. It’s a shoot, not a fashion show. Some lip balm and a slick of waterproof mascara should do.

RSVP then cancel – So rude. Don’t mark it down as a ‘PBI’ – pending better invitation – just say yes or no and put it in the diary.

Steal someone else’s bird – out of the sky. Stick to your own.

Refuse the brace of birds – given out at the end. Always accept, even if your freezer is stuffed.


The Dates to Know

12 August – Start of the grouse season

1 September – Start of the partridge, duck & goose seasons

1 October – Start of the pheasant season

10 December – End of the grouse season

31 January – End of the duck and goose season

1 February – End of the pheasant and partridge season

The C&TH Country Style Edit