Putting your mind at rest concerning issues in the field and beyond.
Dear Uncle Giles,
Be honest, does it really matter if you’re a rotten shot when your love for shooting and the countryside is boundless? Asking for a friend.
JEM, by email
Uncle Giles writes
As a matter of fact, it does matter. Being a rotten shot can be remedied. There are people who have no co-ordination whatever and whose hands and eyes can scarcely ever be harnessed in the same endeavour and yet they strive to better themselves both as shooters and as people.
Consider the extraordinary sporting achievements of disabled athletes and wounded veterans and then ask yourself why you are still a rotten shot. I have said before on this page — and doubtless will again — that the central tenet of game shooting should be, first and foremost, respect for the quarry, then due regard for those who invite us, those who tend the game we pursue and those who steer it towards us on a shoot day; not forgetting, either, those who shoot with us.
Shooting badly demonstrates a lack of consideration for all of these groups. Birds will not be despatched with elegance and style. Hosts, keepers and beaters will see their efforts treated with casual ineffectiveness, and your neighbours in the shooting line will be distracted from their efforts to address the high, wide and handsome by the urgent need to tidy up some unfortunate pheasant that you have shot in the backside.
Go to a shooting school, find a coach whom you like and trust and book yourself a course of six lessons. While it’s true that a decent coach may not be able to weave straw into gold in that, it will be much more accurate straw by the time they have finished.
Boundless love of the countryside is fine but if it’s all you can muster, go rambling.