Putting your mind at rest concerning issues in the field and beyond.
Dear Uncle Giles,
My teenage son enjoyed two days at partridge with his formidable grandfather in early September and I’ve noticed my heir has picked up some rather bad habits from their time together. Most notably the way he holds his shotgun between drives (unslipped, breech closed, barrels pointing at the floor). Naturally I’ll speak to my son, but should I speak to his grandfather (my father-in-law) too, and if so, how should I approach the matter? MT, by email
Uncle Giles writes
It is always a thorny issue when someone who is evidently senior to yourself behaves in a way that makes you uncomfortable. You know that it is wrong to let it pass unchallenged and yet the ramifications of confronting the perpetrator may be considerable and enduring.
The solution is to divert the origin of the reprimand to a third party. Hence: “D’you know, a friend of mine was at a shoot the other day and the host gave one of the youngsters there a most frightful dressing down for standing about with his gun shut. Not loaded, of course, just shut. Not pointing at anyone, but not in its sleeve, you see. Quite went off the deep end apparently. Threatened to send him home and what have you. Terribly embarrassing for the poor boy. Of course, it’s the modern way, I suppose – Health & Safety gone mad, eh? Still, times change and we must adapt or wither, what?
“And then where should we be? On someone’s sharp side, I shouldn’t wonder. I have your gunslip here, by the way. Would you like to slip the old bazooka into it so you can get both hands on my flask? Splendid!”
If the man has an ounce of sense he’ll take the hint. Failing which, explain the difficulty – which is considerable – to the boy’s mother and she can recruit your mother-in-law to give the old man a proper talking to about setting poor examples to youngsters. That should get the job done. It’s what grannies are for.
A shotgun in its slip is a sign of good etiquette, whatever your age.