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How to deal with issues of spent shot and neighbours

Bill Harriman advises a reader

Shooting near a house

Boundaries and spent shot

Q: Our shoot’s boundary is next to a rural property that has several barns with corrugated iron roofs. Sometimes spent shot falls on these roofs, which has caused the owner to become very abusive to the point of saying that he will report us to the police if it happens again. How do we stand legally if he does this?

A: Spent birdshot falling under the influence of gravity is not dangerous. Years ago, I did an experiment which proved that a No 6 shot falling under the influence of gravity had less kinetic energy than a large hailstone. In fact, the only way that people know there is spent shot falling on them at all is when it rattles on a hard surface or rustles through dead leaves on a tree.

Legally speaking, allowing spent shot to fall on someone else’s property is at best a constructive trespass. As any trespass is a civil matter, it is not something for the police to become involved with. That said, you don’t want the police being called whenever your neighbour complains about falling shot because such involvement seldom leads to a happy ending. (You might also like to read ‘how far do shotgun pellets travel?’)

Check your drives

Look at the drives and try to arrange them so that spent shot does not fall on this person’s property. That is simply being a good neighbour. A phone call or visit would be a good idea too. That would give you an opportunity to establish diplomatic relations and assure your neighbour he is in no danger.

It would be courteous to tell him when you are shooting and ascertain if he has anything sensitive on his land such as a valuable pregnant broodmare that might be frightened into abortion by shot rattling on her stable roof. Conduct a charm offensive and build some bridges.

Don’t let your neighbour think that shooting people are a bunch of entitled yahoos who don’t give a damn for anyone else’s quiet enjoyment of their property. A present of dressed game would serve your cause well too — but only after you have ascertained there are no vegan cookery books on your neighbour’s kitchen bookshelves. (Read more on essential shooting etiquette here.)