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Do mobile phones have a place in the field?

Should you carry your mobile when you're out shooting - or is it an etiquette fail?

Mobile phones in the field

Do mobile phones have a place out in the field?

Crucial phones

By Ben Samuelson

It was only a couple of generations ago when our late king wouldn’t have seen much use for a mobile phone on a day’s shooting. He took his private train down to his private station, had an excellent morning’s sport, lunch and a quiet hour after before bumbling back to the palace for tea and medals. Had Edward VII had an iPhone 7, he would have happily left it with an equerry until all forms of sport were finished for the day.

But things are different now. Even those who have made judicious choices when it comes to the wealth of their parents have to trouble themselves with the semblance of work from time to time. Most of the rest of us are actually having to be nice to people professionally, which involves replying to their emails and phone calls fairly promptly. I love my solicitor as much as any man can love his lawyer, but my clients expect me to get back to them within the day, and his shooting habits mean he has to have a phone on him in the field. Otherwise he and I would both be losing business and then neither of us could afford to be out shooting in the first place.

Please note I am not advocating shouting into one’s phone as the birds are coming over, or indeed disappearing out of the side of the drive. There is a respectful and sensible way of returning a crucial call without disturbing anyone or missing any sport. There is also a respectful and sensible way of checking the test match score. Indeed, depending on your age and marital status, you should be able to check out who has swiped right at your Tinder profile or apologise to your wife for being late home. I suppose there is even a demographic for whom the two coincide.

So, if you spot someone on your shoot having a quick peek at their phone before the drive starts, or making a surreptitious call behind the barn after lunch, please cut them a bit of slack. They might be my solicitor.

No phones

By Giles Catchpole

Last season one of my fellow guns was on his mobile as the elevenses break was winding up. Our host is generous in every respect but he does like to get on when he is shooting. He is somewhat old school in that regard. “Come on!” he cries. “All aboard!” And then he says to my friend: “If you would rather talk than shoot, I can have a chair brought for you.” It wasn’t a dressing down, exactly, but it was clear enough which side of the debate he came down on. And I think he was right.

One of the reasons that shooting is such a joy is that it offers the opportunity to free yourself from all the stresses and strains of modern life. To shoot well you must concentrate. You must focus on the birds and nothing else. I think that is one reason why many successful people with complicated lives enjoy it so much. If you take the phone with you to your peg that essential focus is sacrificed and you can neither enjoy the day as you should nor shoot as well as you could and should. And when it rings mid-drive? Not only are you interrupted but everyone within earshot is also dragged back to their office stool as well.

I will admit there may occasionally be things more important than shooting. However, I also believe that courtesy is a cardinal virtue and that disrupting other people’s concentration is rude. What did we do before mobile phones? What do we do in steep valleys and combes where there is no signal? The world does not end. We accommodate. We adapt. We survive. We have voicemail. We will call you back just as soon as we can. Your call is important to us. Just not right now.

If you don’t have your PA with you in the Range Rover then you are not important enough to have a phone with you either. And if you do have your PA with you in the Range Rover, leave the phone behind too and have them answer it for you. It’s what they do.