It’s the shooting season. You’ve been invited to a day on a local farm. What are the main things you need to know to be a safe shooter? We’ll start with how to handle your shotgun and then go through a few tips to help you to shoot safely on the day itself. Hopefully then you’ll be able to focus on the shooting and enjoying everything being on a game shoot offers. Remember it’s not just about pulling the trigger, it’s about the scenery, the company, the dogs, and the whole thing. Enjoy!
Take your shotgun out of its slip

First off, always treat a gun as though it’s loaded. Then follow this quick checklist.

  1. Point the barrels down
  2. As you’re pulling the gun out, hold the barrels in the slip to break the gun
  3. While it’s empty, check for any damage or obstructions
  4. Once removed, hold it over the crook of your arm
Shooting safely at the peg

When you’re on the peg – the place where you stand at the shoot - you need to wait for the whistle or the horn which indicates safe shooting can start.

Whilst you’re waiting, have a good look round to see where everyone is. Know where the other guns are, the beaters, the picker uppers. It helps to have a good sense of what’s going on so you can stay safe.

Once the horn or whistle has gone and you’re ‘live’ at the peg, keep this awareness up.
Check your gun

You’ve got your gun safely out of its slip. Now check your barrels and put your cartridges in. Make sure you have the right cartridges for the quarry you’re shooting. There will probably be a bit of a wait before the birds start coming over so you can stand ready with your gun with some shells in or some shells in your pocket. It’s up to you.

The most important thing when you’re on the peg is to keep your barrels pointing upwards. If your arms get tired, break the gun and have a rest but don’t let the barrels drop down. As you’re waiting keep looking and listening. You might be able to hear the beaters. They will be making funny noises to flush the birds out.
Keep your cool

You might feel a real sense of anticipation in the air on the peg. If you’re nervous try and have a chat with someone close by, perhaps you have an instructor with you who can keep from getting too wound up.

Once shooting starts, just shoot the birds that come over you. Don’t go for anything too low. Don’t shoot into trees as there could be beaters in there. Imagine that there’s a funnel that opens out in front of you and shoot into there. Try not to shoot your neighbour’s birds because it’s not the done thing and you want to be able to have a chat with them over drinks later!

If a flurry of birds comes over and your adrenalin gets up, just keep your cool, pick one bird and stick to it. Your loader or instructor will be there to help. Know your quarry and only shoot what you’re meant to.
Return your gun to its slip

At the end of what’s hopefully been a great day, follow the checklist below to put away your gun.

  1. Remove any cartridges
  2. Check the gun is clear
  3. Have one last check before you zip up
  4. Carry the gun slip barrels down

And off you go to discuss the day over a few drinks at the shoot lunch!