A sim­ple shoot-day shel­ter

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

When I was six years old I was taken along to my first driven shoot. I re­mem­ber be­ing in awe of all the grown-ups with their sticks and shot­guns, and the dogs run­ning ev­ery­where; and can re­mem­ber, as if it was yes­ter­day, the air of ex­cite­ment. A whis­tle was blown and every­one gath­ered around a man who I later learned was the head­keeper. I don’t re­mem­ber what he said be­cause by then I had my own stick and was try­ing to copy my fa­ther’s stance, pre­tend­ing my stick was a gun.

The day sadly went down­hill from there: it rained! It rained so hard that the Guns were mak­ing Noah’s Ark jokes. I was drenched, cold and get­ting in­creas­ingly tired and hun­gry. It was only at the end of the day that we got to the barn. It put me off for a few weeks, but for less than £100 in to­day’s money we could have had a refuge at the end of the drive.

Th­ese days, I wouldn’t be able to run my cour­ses with­out putting up a gi­ant tarp. I use an 8 x 6m tarp strung be­tween two trees and roped out at the corners and the mid­dle. Here’s how to do it.

I use: 1 x short lad­der (6ft), 1 x tarp, 1 x rope, 2 x web­bing straps, 4 x slings, 4 x cara­bin­ers and 8 x ratchet straps (make them bright so that they don’t gar­rotte any­one).

Lay out a tarp up­side down. Place a long length of sturdy rope (sec­ond-hand climb­ing ropes can be picked up cheaply th­ese days) along the mid­dle of the tarp. Now you’ll need to fix the rope to the tarp. I use prusik knots: make a loop from a piece of web­bing or string. Place one end of the loop un­der the rope [pic 1] and then thread the other end through the top of the loop at least three times [pics 2, 3 and 4]. This knot will loosen when you push it to­wards the mid­dle of the long rope, but will tighten if you pull it. You can slide the knot away from the mid­dle un­til the rope and tarp are taught.

Now you need four slings. Loop the first sling 10ft up a tree, wrap­ping it around the trunk or over a bough. Place the first cara­biner in the end loop. Then do the same at the bot­tom of the tree. The sec­ond two slings and cara­bin­ers should be put on the sec­ond tree in the same way. Clip the rope through the top cara­bin­ers [pic 5]. Tie over-hand knots with a loop at ei­ther end of the rope so that they hang around 5-6ft above the ground. You can then use a ratchet strap to con­nect the bot­tom cara­biner to the loop that you’ve tied on each tree [pic 6]. Now start to tighten the rope us­ing the ratchet straps to raise the tarp. You can ad­just the po­si­tion of the tarp be­tween the trees by loos­en­ing one side and tight­en­ing the other. Now at­tach the other six ratchet straps be­tween the corners and some pegs or, even bet­ter, to trees. Then you can at­tach the mid­dle of the tarp to pegs and trees and tighten ac­cord­ingly [pics 7 and 8]. Et voilà – an ideal wa­ter­proof shel­ter for the end of the drive that can be kept up all sea­son.

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