Shooting is undoubtedly one of the great pleasures of the gentleman's calendar, the social aspect of being invited out for a days shoot is a testament to the quality of your company. Places on a personal shoot are very limited, so the host is going to think long and hard about who he will invite. You should understand the importance of graciousness and manners, this is not a networking event however. Relax and enjoy.
Arrive With A Suitable Gun
Attending a shoot without a gun of your own is not only ludicrous, but also incredibly rude. It’s akin to inviting people over for dinner without having food. The most suitable option is show up with two. While rare, if the weapon is serviced, things can go wrong on the day, plus you’re then instantly in the good books if someone suddenly needs one at the last minute. Your gun should be clean, serviced and be suitable for the event. No sawn-offs for instance.
Equally, coming without enough cartridges isn’t going to do you any favours. Be over prepared; you never know what the bird count is going to be like on the day and running out of cartridges is a sure-fire way to make you look like the cheapest shot on the field.
Wear Correct Clothing
This is a shoot, not a fashion parade. Your Prada chinos and Lock & Co. hat will not impress anyone. There is a great divide between what city dwellers think they should wear to these events and what country folk actually wear. I'm sure the male-model in the Beretta catalogue looked very dapper in his brogues, plus fours and three piece check suit but that won't endear you to the locals. Beaters love to take the mess out of , what we call in Yorkshire, "off cumden"...non locals.
Dress for the country, wellington boots, warm trousers, sweater and a Barbour jacket. Incase it rains add a cap, of the flat or newsboy style if you prefer.
Your Dog Should Be A Credit To You
You won’t be popular if people think of you as the bloke who couldn’t control his canine. The last thing anyone wants is a wild dog running loose and picking up any bird it can find. If your dog isn’t properly gun trained, save yourself the embarrassment and leave them at home. He/She will be no use and a total hinderance. Keep them on a lead and show some respect to your fellow guns.
Being A Good Sport
The most British and Gentlemanly of qualities is treating everything as if it were cricket and being a good all-round sport. The quickest way to make sure you’re never invited back by your host is to bag everyone else’s birds. This is one of the biggest taboos in the sport; not only does it make you look incredibly greedy, but it also goes against all of the fundamentals of shooting. Etiquette in all avenues of life is of the upmost importance, and stealing (that's pretty much what it is) others’ birds is going to very quickly turn everyone else against you.
Enjoy A Tot
Sloe gin is the poison of choice when breaks are announced. Drinking to excess is never acceptable and certainly not while being in control of a gun. Alcohol is usually offered at lunch/elevenses. It’s down to you to know your limits and abide by them, remembering that you are in control of a firearm. Once the day is done and all the firearms are stored away safely then it’s perfectly acceptable to imbibe with the odd glass of wine or shot of single malt.
The Last Post
The last shots have been fired and the gamekeeper or shoot organiser calls it a day, conduct yourself at the end of a shoot as you have done all day. Make sure that you tip the head gamekeeper and thank the beaters and anyone else who helped out on the day.
A good thank you letter, delivered promptly will serve you well and lack of one is frowned upon. A huge amount of effort and money is put into a day’s shoot and showing that you genuinely appreciate the efforts of all is guaranteed to secure you an invite to further events.