Why time spent in the beating line over Christ­mas is time well spent.

Shooting Gazette - - This Month - By Martin Pud­difer.

Peo­ple of­ten pour scorn over the Christ­mas pe­riod, bah hum­bug­ging their way be­tween ex­cited shop­pers as they try to finish their own gift gath­er­ing, but it’s funny how those who de­cry the fes­tive spirit are of­ten the first to curl their ears and noses around the kitchen door­way at the sound of corks pop­ping and when the smell of the turkey in the oven be­gin to waft through­out the house. Christ­mas, as we all know, is a time to in­dulge in food and drink. De­spite my de­vo­tion to my own weekly fit­ness rou­tine from Christ­mas Eve un­til New Year’s Day, you will find me eye­ing up lonely slices of game, pork or even mince pies on the din­ing room ta­ble when every­one else says they’ve had enough and I never feel bad about fin­ish­ing that bot­tle of some­thing or other if no one wants to join me. With Christ­mas comes the in­evitable hoot­ing about

The beater I was with was keen to move on, de­spite the fact I needed two min­utes to push my eyes back into my head.

di­ets start­ing and how all of the choco­lates, cakes, beer and spir­its need to be ban­ished from the house as soon as pos­si­ble there­after if their mis­sion is to be suc­cess­ful.

For some peo­ple, a New Year’s fit­ness regime means join­ing a gym in town or dust­ing off the bi­cy­cles in the shed and tak­ing them for a few laps of the vil­lage. Oth­ers take up walk­ing long dis­tances in a bid to get back in shape. Beat­ers know all about the ben­e­fits of walk­ing long dis­tances and of­ten they can put gym wor­ship­pers like my­self to shame what­ever the sea­son.

This dawned on me, and not for the first time, af­ter a drive on the Up­per­wood Es­tate re­cently. I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence life in its beating line so asked if I could join the team for the sec­ond drive. The jour­ney up the side of the moor was steep and eas­ily one of the hard­est climbs I think I have ever at­tempted. De­spite the view at the top be­ing one of the most spec­tac­u­lar I have ever seen in Great Bri­tain my arms and legs were burn­ing and my heart was beating faster than Keith Moon’s drum­sticks. The beater I was with was as fresh faced as when we’d started and was keen to move on, de­spite the fact I needed two min­utes to push my eyes back into my head. Ap­par­ently he did the route sev­eral times a week. It re­minded me of the time I was on Arkle­side grouse moor and had men and women in their 70s glid­ing past me as we ne­go­ti­ated the un­du­lat­ing moor­land land­scape. I was a lot big­ger in those days but even then I wasn’t fit enough to do the dis­tances at Up­per­wood and Arkle­side as I just wasn’t, and am still not, used to that kind of fit­ness, I’m just not flex­i­ble or strong enough to do that kind of beating.

Be­fore the start of a trail half marathon in Lin­colnshire in Oc­to­ber there were quite a few walk­ers among our num­ber, all of them no doubt look­ing to cover the 13.2 miles well be­fore dark. It was ab­so­lutely pour­ing with rain and I was look­ing for­ward to the whole thing be­ing over as soon as pos­si­ble, not least be­cause I was in shorts and my train­ers and “show­er­proof” long-sleeved run­ning jacket were al­ready soaked through. Here I was, about the run across farmer’s fields, foot­paths and along main roads, and would re­turn home later on look­ing like I’d just spent just over two hours bog snor­kel­ing. The walk­ers, how­ever, were in a merry mood, ap­pro­pri­ately dressed for the weather, their gloved hands warm­ing on the tops of wooden sticks, their bat­tle-hard­ened wa­ter­proofs seal­ing them from the el­e­ments. They were rar­ing to go. As I slipped, plod­ded and ran my way around the course it oc­curred to me that one or two of those hearty souls could well have been beat­ers; they had the kit, the only thing they were missing were the flags and the dogs. I bet they com­pleted their dis­tance tired but en­tirely sat­is­fied with their ef­forts and a lot faster than I could.

I was glad to get home in once piece and spent the rest of the day winc­ing ev­ery time I put one foot in front of the other. Again, it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of fit­ness, a dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity. My point, I sup­pose, is if you want to in­dulge in Christ­mas cheer but burn it off al­most as quickly, head to your near­est beating line.

A very merry Christ­mas to all of you from every­one here at Shoot­ing Gazette. Be safe, have fun and en­joy plenty of good shoot­ing.

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