Learning to Shoot

True to form I’ve begun to embrace English Country life apace. Not content with searching for a Land Rover I’ve taken a share in a shoot with old friend VJ, ex of HK. It’s a new shoot and we’ve begun building the pen with a perimeter fence enclosing shelters, feeders and water for the 200 odd poults (young pheasants) we will put in in early autumn. A steep learning curve for me, but one that has been very interesting.

Of course I also need to be able to shoot said pheasants come the season and as I’ve never held more than an air rifle decided that lessons were a good idea. A new clay shoot in the Vale of Pewsey has just opened and I was able to get a beginners lesson for 50 quid which was well worth it. Against all odds and much to my surprise I managed to hit a fair few clays too. Bl**dy sore shoulder the next day though!

Safety really is the only thing you need to learn at my level – which is a good thing – and there was much wise advice about safe guns always being welcome at a shoot, but good guns who are not safety conscious being unwelcome.

VJ sent the attached poem, which is sound counsel:

A Father’s Advice
Mark Beaufoy

If a sportsman true you’d be
Listen carefully to me…

Never, never let your gun
Pointed be at anyone.
That it may unloaded be
Matters not the least to me.

When a hedge or fence you cross
Though of time it cause a loss
From your gun the cartridge take
For the greater safety’s sake.

If twixt you and neighbouring gun
Bird shall fly or beast may run
Let this maxim ere be thine
“Follow not across the line.”

Stops and beaters oft unseen
Lurk behind some leafy screen.
Calm and steady always be
“Never shoot where you can’t see.”

You may kill or you may miss
But at all times think of this:
“All the pheasants ever bred
Won’t repay for one man dead.”

Written by Mark Beaufoy of Coombe House, Shaftsbury, Dorset, England, in 1902, on presenting his eldest son, Henry Mark, with his first gun.

Next of course I need a shotgun licence, gun cabinet and finally a gun. Will keep you posted!

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