It’s winter and that means the driven partridge and pheasant shooting season is upon us. If you’ve always wondered about trying shooting, why not give it a go? A driven shoot day is accessible to everyone. There’s no need to have a double-barrelled surname or land of your own. All are welcome. You might meet the odd duke, or just as likely, the man from the local pub. Generally a driven shoot day attracts people who enjoy the countryside, working with their dogs and a social occasion. If you look good in tweed it’s a bonus. The traditional dress is still the mainstay although dressing is getting a little more relaxed. Smart trousers rather than the traditional breeks are fine. Your own Labrador or spaniel could be an advantage as a gun dog to carry the birds home.
When and where

From September 1st (Partridge),October 1st(Pheasant) to February 1st you’ll find shooting up and down the countryside, on farms, estates and small pieces of land, anywhere from the remotest parts of Ireland to the US and New Zealand. In the UK, driven shooting plays a big part in preserving the countryside, thanks to dedicated game keepers and landowners, looking after around two thirds of the English countryside.

One of the best places for finding shoot days, is the website: guns on pegs, they advertise let days, syndicate days and corporate days at reasonable prices.
How the day works

The driven day starts with an all important safety briefing, which also covers how the day will work. The guns – the people who will actually be shooting – draw peg numbers as to where they will stand during the day. This way the best pegs get shared out equally, so all guns will get some shooting.

Once the guns are lined up on their pegs, across the fields, the beaters get ready to start. The beaters are the people who go into the cover or undergrowth and use dogs to help push the birds out where they can be shot. Good beaters and their dogs are worth their weight in gold.

There is another important group of people involved in the day, these are pickers up. They use trained dogs to find and pick up the shot birds. These are generally people who are crazy about their dogs and love working with them. (Actually this applies to virtually everyone that goes shooting). If any bird drops into a hedgerow and isn’t easily found by the gun’s own dog, the pickers up will send their dogs in to find it. It’s very important that all birds are found quickly. If a bird isn’t shot cleanly, it can be dispatched humanely, so there is no suffering.

If you’re concerned about the etiquette of driven shooting, there’s no need to worry. There will be plenty of friendly faces to point you in the right direction. If you’re a new gun, someone may shadow you for the day, helping you to learn the ropes and any driven shooting techniques that you need.

The birds are shown the utmost respect and a small shoot will divide up the bag (the killed birds) between everyone. If there are any birds left over, these are often given to a local pub or sold on to a game dealer as many more people are interested in the unique flavours of game birds.

Shoots often break for elevenses, most have a good lunch and some end the day with a shooting tea of sausage rolls and bacon sandwiches. The preferred (and traditional ) shoot day drink, is Sloe gin, often drunk with Champagne. It’s a chance to relive the drama of the day and reflect on the best drives. The social side of shooting is a big draw for many people.
Shooting dos and don’ts


  • Reply to an invitation to shoot and arrive promptly on the day out of respect for your host
  • Dress to be warm and waterproof
  • Wear a formal shirt and tie - traditional tweed clothing in general is a safe bet
  • Take ear and eye protection
  • Always respect your fellow guns
  • Always make sure that it’s a safe shot, if in doubt, leave it.
  • Always pick up your empty cartridge cases to keep the countryside tidy
  • Always thank the gamekeeper and his teams, for the day they have provided. A tip will be expected at the end of the day.


  • Shoot ground game eg foxes, rabbits, hares. Unless otherwise told.
  • Disrespect the countryside
  • Forget you’re in charge of a firearm at all times and drink responsibly if you stop for elevenses.
  • Shoot at birds that are too far away - know your own ability to kill birds cleanly.

In terms of shooting the birds, remember practice makes perfect. We hope this introduction has encouraged you to get out into the countryside with your dog and enjoy your day of driven pheasant shooting!