LWDG Group Expert and Dog Trainer

A Novice Guide To Shoot Day Etiquette.

Emma-Louise Stevens, one of our amazing LWDG Group Experts has put together a brilliant short guide to your first shoot day if you have never been before.

These tips and hints are things that I wish someone had told me on my first day,  And they will prepare you for your days out in the field too!

Glossary of Shooting Terms:

  • Brace – when two birds of the opposite sex are tied in a pair, this is how they are hung
  • Picker up – the team that stands behind the guns and dogs are used to retrieve game
  • Beater – the team of people (with or without dogs) that work through cover pushing birds to flush over guns
  • Guns – the team of people that shoot the birds
  • Peg Dog – a guns dog that stands with them on the ‘peg.’
  • Peg – often stakes in the ground to show where guns need to stand
  • Drive – how the days are split each drive can last a different amount of times
  • Runner – a bird that has been shot but has not died straight away; this bird needs to be retrieved instantly and dispatched humanely (also known as pricked)
  • Driven Day – the type of shoots where beaters beat towards guns and ‘drive’ the birds over the top of the guns
  • Walked Up Day – the type of shoot where beaters and guns are in the line together and walk together; birds get up and fly up away from the guns and are shot flying away from the guns
  • The line – this is the line that the beaters walk in and stay in for the whole drive
  • ‘HOLD THE LINE’ – this is often the phrase shouted by the keeper or other people running the beaters, which means stop.

Emma’s Guide To General Shoot Etiquette:

  1. If you are invited to a shoot by a friend: Please ask them for the keeper’s number and ring and chat with him prior to attending. This ensures the keeper is aware of your plans to visit and also ensures that you have touched base with them. This is a great time to chat about your dog and the day etc, get a location off them and times to turn up etc. (DO NOT BE LATE!!)
  2. Dogs: I would advise anyone with novice dogs or novice to shoots to go first without a dog to a new shoot. Get to know the drives,  understand the terminology used and what is expected of you for the day without having to worry about a dog. You will also see what type of shoot it is, gain a lot of knowledge by watching other dogs work and also know how many birds are on the ground that you are putting in front of your dog.
  3. Clothing: Even beating please go smart. Shirt & jumper, waterproofs are basic minimum. Please do not turn up in jeans to shoots and try to stick to greens and browns. The best advice I can give you is to be warm and comfortable and waterproof. Picking up you may be required to be dressed a bit smarter so shirt and tie/scarf (ladies) and possibly breaks or smart trousers, again warm and comfy and waterproof.
  4. Listen to the keeper and the experienced people on the shoot. Go where you are told. Ask questions. Make noise when told to and be quiet when told to.
  5. Go and personally thank the keeper for the day afterwards. As a beater and picker up you are not required to tip the keeper (only guns tip the keeper) but it’s nice to go and thank them.
  6. Ask the keeper prior to the day if you need to take food or if it is provided for you some shoots have lunch provided and some don’t. Take snacks anyway and drinks.
  7. If you want to be invited back take some cake, sausage rolls, cookies, slow gin anything to share with you team 😊
  8. Talk to you trainer if you have one – That is what we are here for to listen to your worries and concerns and enjoy your first day with you so please if you have a question or you want dates get in touch with you trainer we don’t know you are struggling if you don’t talk or ask for advice.
  9. Above all enjoy the day!!!

A Beaters Guide:

Beaters are generally required to walk through the terrain of the shoot grounds hitting bushes, and waving flags in order to push birds towards the gun line.

You can beat with or without a dog. The dogs in the beating line should be steady, calm and under control.

Minimum commands/behaviours of your dog :

  • solid stop whistle especially stopping to flushing game
  • Not bothered by gunshots, especially multiple shot
  • Steady around lots of game on the ground
  • Hunt in a nice tight pattern
  • Be social with other dogs and people
  • Be able to work and follow commands in exciting environments with other dogs and people.
  1. When beating you are required to walk in a line with other people, it’s really important that you are able to follow instructions from the keeper and beat keepers and stay in line, slow down when told, make noise when told, flag
  2. Understand the logic of beating, always ask where the guns are so you know the general direction to walk in.
  3. Take snacks for the day even if there is a lunch provided you may get hungry and definitely take drinks
  4. Make sure your clothing is smart but above all comfortable, warm and able to move in
  5. Ask if you need to take a stick or a flag.
  6. Take your dog (if ready) once you have already been to the shoot on your own, learn how to beat first then learn how to control your dog second.
  7. You may be invited to beat first and pick up later when you are known so don’t turn down beating if you can. Getting your foot in the door will open up more opportunities for you.

Picking up Guide:

Pickers up are a team of people that stand behind the guns. They are responsible for marking everything shot by guns. To pick up you have to have a dog and often people will have a team of picking up dogs.

Picking up etiquette can vary from picking up during the drive to only picking runners (pricked birds) to not picking up at all during the drive and only picking up after the horn/whistle has gone.

  1. Dress smartly – shirt and tie with warm smart trousers make sure you are warm and comfy as you will have lots of waiting around before drives start.
  2. Keep your dog on a lead until the end of the drive if not 100% steady – better to be on lead than run in.
  3. Make sure you ask the what the keeper would like with regards to picking during the drive – always better to check
  4. If there are guns with dogs (peg dogs) make sure you mark their birds but let their dogs pick their own birds and sweep if they miss any. It can be difficult to mark birds properly whilst shooting.
  5. Make sure your dogs are ready for the day – it is a lot of waiting, a lot of birds live and dead as well as pricked birds/runners to retrieve
  6. If possible when going for the first time picking up with your new dog,  ask to go as an extra. Stand with an experience picker up so you can learn what to do and what is expected of your dog. This also allows you to pick which birds your dog retrieves.
  7. If a gun asks you to go and look for a bird, or is convinced they hit one, please go and look for it. Better to try and not find it that not try at all.
  8. Make sure you have a priest or humane bird dispatcher and you are confident in using them.
  9. Make sure you have your own game carriers.
  10. Learn to tie birds appropriately into a brace.

Our FEATURE EXPERT Emma, has beautifully covered so many  questions shes gets asked about.

If you have any questions or comments, pop in the section below and we will make sure Emma gets a chance to respond. Or pop into our FREE LADIES FACEBOOK GROUP and ask there.

Emma will be providing training days in the LWDG Regions so don’t forget to check out our EVENTS PAGE!


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