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I’m a driven grouse shooting novice. Help!

John Bidwell advises a reader who's only been out after pheasant

Butt used in grouse shoots

Q: I’m a complete novice when it comes to driven grouse shooting. I’ve never shot anything more than driven pheasant before. I want to make the most of my chances on the grouse moor so what advice can you give me?

What a grouse shooting novice needs to know

  • Even though I’ve been grouse shooting a number of times, I am no expert at the job, but what I do know about driven grouse is this: stay off the wine the night before!
  • These birds are fast enough as it is in August. By October they go up a gear or two, espcially if they have a bit of wind to help them on their way.  Then again, when all’s said and done, nothing flies faster than 1250 ft per sec, so pick the shell of your choice, and get stuck in.
  • It’s hard to judge distance on open moorland so pick out markers in front of the butt to give an idea of how far out the birds are.
  • Concentrate. Then concentrate even harder. Watch the horizon, ignore bumble bees and as soon as you spot a bird, get on your toes.
  • Don’t take your eyes off the bird you’ve picked and suddenly switch to another.
  • As soon as the bird crosses your 60 yard marker, get on the trigger – the bird will hit the shot pattern about 40 yards out.
  • Get the first shot off early and you should be able to kill a second bird in front as well without it getting too close.
  • Always shoot in front and NEVER swing through the line; if you do decide to take a bird behind (and only if it’s safe to do so), remove the gun from your shoulder, drop the stock and raise those muzzles skyward as you turn.
  • With feet firmly in place, put the bead on your intended target, swing and fire.

In addition, Patrick Galbraith, editor of Shooting Times, advises: “If you don’t have a loader, mark your birds down (that is, remember where they fall).”