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With the Six Nations about to hit our screens and our sporting consciouness, we thought we should point out a few reasons why shooting is always going to be our favourite outdoor activity.

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  1. When the first bird of the day comes straight at you, you don’t have to worry about catching it and then passing it to avoid the big hit by 15 toothless growling wildebeasts whose eyes are firmly fixed on your jugular.
  2. When shooting in cold weather, you can have a swig of sloe gin between drives to keep your spirits up. When you’re playing rugby you’re more worried about bringing up what spirits you’d swigged the night before.
  3. When you go on a shoot day you expect to see ‘natural evidence’ of sheep and cows as you walk between drives. If you played rugby, like I did once, in Dowlais, above Merthyr, you expect to have to dive in the stuff to score a try.
  4. English Guns don’t bang on and on and on and on and on and on about a shooting trophy they won 10 years ago.  You’ll never find a Welsh Gun with shaven legs.
  5. If you shoot poorly you’re always guaranteed a sympathetic ear from your parents. The father of my second row partner, Gavin, was often heard to shout: “Don’t ask him out, get him down, lad!”
  6. Shooters protect their hearing with ear defenders. Their ears don’t end up looking like vegetables.
  7. Half-way through a shoot, you don’t feel a warm trickle down the back of your leg. (A regular sensation for supporters in the old West Stand at Twickenham.)
  8. Mid-morning on a shoot you get served coffee, port and maybe a chocolate to keep you going. In rugby you might get a quarter of a muddy, gritty orange, depending on who dropped the bag on the pitch.
  9. A shoot captain gives the safety briefing at the beginning of the day and lets the Guns get on with it. In rugby, the referee talks at the beginning and then witters on and on and on all the way through the match, without let-up.
  10. Italians are good at shooting and make some beautiful guns – like the Perazzi MX8 – which has won just about everything going.  Italians and rugby? Enough said.