Q: I have never shot game before and have received an invitation to shoot at a friend’s estate. He is currently away so it won’t be for a while. In the meantime, how do I go about getting involved without committing to a syndicate just yet?

A: Congratulations on receiving your invitation to shoot. However, before you mount a gun to shoot at any sentient creature, you need to have plenty of practice at clays. Go to a good ground that will do proper gun fit too. That will make you a better shot and will also give you confidence in gun handling and safety.

Start with beating

Before shooting at anything you should also go beating. That way you will understand how a shoot is run and it will give the people on the shoot confidence in you so that if a vacancy for a Gun comes up you will be well placed to fill it. You should ask the shoot captain if you might stand with one of the Guns so that you can see how things look from their perspective too. If a shoot accepts you, it is always easier to join the Gun team. You will need to get insurance, as anyone who shoots without it is an irresponsible scrub.

Apply for your own shotgun certificate too. It is always a good idea to learn to shoot with your own gun and getting a certificate is a “rite of passage”.

Do not be in any rush to have a go on your friend’s estate. If you do not have a certificate, make sure that you satisfy the tests of the Section 11(5) exemption. More details about how non-certificate holders can shoot can be found on the BASC website

Shooting UK adds:

Some excellent advice here from Bill Harriman. We’d also add that it’s worth reading about the etiquette of shooting. Most of it is just good common sense and good manners – for example, replying promptly to an invitation to shoot and coming dressed appropriately. If you’re new to shooting, you should also have a sound knowledge of the gun safety rules, which you can read up here.