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Sir Jackie Stewart interview

Sir Jackie Stewart, three-time winner of the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship, talks cars, shotgun shooting, stalking and dyslexia.

So, Sir Jackie Stewart, how was last season for you?

“I did 12 days last season. I don’t get a lot of shooting nowadays because my life is still busy with the commercial side of Formula One. My travel schedule doesn’t allow me to do as much shooting as I might enjoy, what with my commercial and contractual relationships and my other business interests. For example, the grouse season is difficult because August, September and even October are still busy with long-haul travel. Although I receive very kind invitations, I am not always able to accept.”

I know you’re quite a fan of Hambleden.

“That was always a good shoot, since… way, way back. It was never syndicated when Lord Hambleden, who sadly died a few years ago, ran the shoot himself. The valleys there are beautiful, the high birds are wonderful. For me, it is probably the best shoot within 45 minutes of London. There is a fine quality of birds, it’s well keepered and the shooting lodge is more than comfortable. I still shoot there three to five times a year.”

Do you still stalk?

“I used to do a lot of stalking. I have been stalking from about the age of 15. I was working in the family garage back then because I left school due to my dyslexia. Education had no space in my life. In those days, if you were dyslexic, as for many young people now, it wasn’t being identified and even if it is identified, it is not being properly managed by the educational authorities all over the world. The authorities have a great deal to answer for because we are not as a nation educating the new generation of teachers to have the skills of early recognition of children with learning difficulties, specifically dyslexia. When I was young, because my grandfather was a gamekeeper and my father was a keen shot and angler, I was brought up with a gun in one hand and a fishing rod in the other. My shooting started off as clay shooting because we didn’t have an estate or anything like that. My father ran a small garage family business, so I was deer stalking on the banks of Loch Lomond. There was a wonderful stalker called Duncan Macbeth who I would go stalking with. Sometimes I would do three days a week, culling the stags and hinds at the appropriate times of year. Gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies are a wonderful breed and as a young boy, I learnt so much about life, the countryside and the preservation of woodland. I was lucky. At the age of 14 I won the first clay competition I ever entered. My shooting was a terribly important part of my life and I still thoroughly enjoy it.”

What guns do you use now?

“I use a Beretta EELL SO10. I have some lovely pairs of guns. I have 12s, 20s and 28s, all matching. I’ve hardly used the 28-bores yet, I’ve only had the one day’s shooting with them. I’ve got a pair in three calibres. I had a very nice pair of round-action Boss side-by-sides. They were beautiful and I gave them to my son Paul. He uses them all the time. I have a pair of 20s made by Purdey with a single trigger. The Boss single triggers are beautiful. Then I decided shooting was changing and those who were dubious about over-unders… that has now changed considerably. There are now more people shooting with over-unders and I started to do that a good many years ago.”

Shooting with your sons must be special?

“My younger son Mark is an excellent shot. I gave him another pair of Beretta 12-bore EELLs that I started off with, with two sets of barrels – a set of 28-inch and a set of 30-inch barrels. Paul enjoys his shooting as well but I think at the moment that Mark has the edge.”

Have you ever shot with both of them in the line at the same time?

“Yes, I have and I really loved it. I also have one grandson shooting now. He is beginning to show signs of being a good shot as well.”

Sir Jackie Stewart is the president of Dyslexia Scotland