A WORD FROM THE EDITOR
Why time spent in the beating line over Christmas is time well spent.
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.