E.J. Churchill – Top Tips for Grouse Shooting Days
Monday, 14 August, 2017
- Have a checklist to ensure you have all the right equipment with you. The weather on the moors can be susceptible to change, so you need to be prepared for all conditions.
- It is down to the shooter to take responsibility for the butt stick placement. Even if your loader has done them when you arrive, ensure that you check every time. If in doubt, put the butt sticks further out in front and further back behind. It’s imperative to be 100% safe at all times.
- When spotting your bird, you must wear good safety glasses with interchangeable lenses at all times, regardless of the weather or light conditions. If there was ever an accident, these could save your sight.
- Keep still! Grouse are quick to learn where the butts are, so if there’s any sudden movements they will quickly turn away.
- Pick your target carefully and stick to it, ideally taking your first shot 60 yards out in front. On a prolific grouse day, you need to try and stay shooting out in front of the butt as much as possible. If you get turned around whilst shooting, you can miss great opportunities to shoot driven grouse coming towards you in packs.
- Work out the area around your grouse butt when you get there. You need to establish a point on the horizon past where you will take a shot. The second shot (if required) should be taken as quickly as possible, whilst ensuring you are still moving the gun with the target.
- Your gun mount should be smooth and precise. The front hand needs to move with the target, but remember you should also move your feet. Even if it’s a tiny step, you are moving with the bird and this means you will take the shot in perfect balance. Foot movement is crucial and often forgotten.
- Stay at the front of the butt, even when the horn goes. This is the most common problem when it comes to accidents. If you move to the back, your butt sticks are in completely the wrong place and you will end up rushing. Let the birds get past the line of butts and then address and shoot.
- When you hear the first horn, which means only shoot behind, raise your gun and “salute” your neighbouring guns. Make sure they salute back to show they have heard the horn, as only after that can shooting behind commence.
- Wait for the second horn to sound before you or anyone else leaves the butt. It will only be safe to go and look for your birds once the second horn has been blown.
- Make sure you mark the birds you’ve shot. Having markers will be a huge help when picking up birds at the end. If you let others know how many you are missing at the end you will be able to inform those who pick up the game.
- Always go and look for your birds at the end of the drive and if you pick up a neighbour’s, let them know. Once you’ve picked yours up, lay them neatly in the grouse butt or carry them back to the cars to be placed on the game cart.
- Be sure to thank everyone at the end of the day! It may sound simple, but on many moors there is normally in excess of 50 people working hard to make sure you have a great day. Try to thank as many of them as possible for the experience.
- Finally, before your first shoot make sure you take some time to practice at a shooting ground with a simulated grouse set up. This will be hugely beneficial when it comes to the real thing, and is great fun as well!