Robin Scott and Matt Clark debate the issue
Driven or walked-up shooting?
It’s walked-up for Robin Scott who says:
Given the chance I’d pop away at a driven game any day of the week. Nothing is easier than standing on a peg shooting birds passing nicely overhead after being flushed by a whole heap of beaters.
You can take the weight off your feet and sit on a stick before, after or even during the shot. You can drink tea, coffee and eat cake.
To bag walked-up birds we have to rely on our fieldcraft and dog work to get within range. And if there are friends and other dogs to stop game escaping, the challenge isn’t over — it has only just started.
With a driven bird you usually have more than enough time to watch it on the wing to decide if it’s going to be your bird or a neighbour’s. Or whether it’s too high, or low, to shoot at. With every second of its flight it’s getting easier.
Not so one that’s walked-up. As soon as it breaks cover it flies away. Two blinks of the eye and it will be out of range. Before squeezing the trigger, you must:
• Stop walking and assume a safe, steady stance before slipping off the safety catch and mounting the gun
• Decide if the shot, should you take it, is completely safe
• Ensure the bird, if killed, can be retrieved quickly
• Or if it’s quartering away, whether it will present someone else in line a better, more sporting opportunity.
All this and more has to be taken into account in a near instant. Driven or walked-up shooting? It’s walked-up for me.
Better sport on a driven shooting day
It’s driven shooting for Matt Clark:
I love a walked- up day; it’s what I grew up with and I find a walked-up day much more physically challenging than a driven day.
However, Robin makes a driven day sound as fun as afternoon tea with the vicar and I feel compelled to defend it (tongue in cheek) because he overlooks many of its subtle challenges.
Yes, you often have a long time to prepare for a shot but this gives you more time to overthink it and miss. I’m much happier with an instinctive snap shot you get with a walked-up day, especially if the bird is just on the end of my barrels.
There is also the pressure of having a sizeable audience on a driven shoot. Not only other Guns, but pickers-up and beaters too. You are like a world-class batsman with all eyes on you as you step up to the shot. On a rough-shooting trip you may fluff an opportunity but only your mates will notice.
And you have a minefield of etiquette to negotiate. Should a tie be worn? Is it bad form to wear mismatched tweeds; how much do you tip?
So you are certainly under all sorts of pressure on a driven day. The mark of a sportsman at the top of their game is how they perform under pressure and you can see this on a driven shoot.
Finally, I would say to Robin that top shooters are often seen at driven days shooting impossibly high birds — largely because they know a good driven day provides better sport than a walked-up one.
Driven or walked-up shooting? It’s driven for me.