The Glorious Twelfth (12 August), the traditional opening day of the British grouse shooting season will soon be upon us once again.
Grouse shooting is expensive – that is a fact. So as to get as much “bang for your buck” as our American friends say, now is the time to start your equipment preparation.
Guns & Chokes
Shotguns are a very personal choice. It is not always the price tag that defines how well you will shoot a particular gun. It is the gun’s fit, its handling characteristics and its shot pattern that will usually dictate that.
The debate of side-by-side versus over & under has been raging ever since the latter became more popular in the shooting field. Again this is a matter of personal choice and what works best for the individual Gun but stick with what you are proficient with is advice well heeded. An action-filled grouse moor is not the time or place to be coming to grips with a new gun.
Grouse shooting can at times be snap shooting in a frenzy. Therefore a lighter, easy pointing gun is usually preferred. Because of this, many grouse shooting aficionados do prefer to use a side-by-side when on the moors. That is not to say that lighter 28″ 12 and 20 bore over & under guns will not work just as well. Just remember that you will more than likely need a pair of shotguns to maximise your participation and enjoyment of the day. These need not be an expensive matched pair but being of the same make, model and bore size would seem to be advantageous.
Because grouse are so quick in flight they need to be engaged as soon as is practically possible. “Take them well in front” is often the sage advice offered to Guns experiencing grouse shooting for the first time. Your second shot is always taken a lot closer if not behind you as the covey sweeps through the line like a squadron of kamikaze jet pilots. It is the grouse’s speed and flight agility that often surprises novice Guns.
On the matter of chokes, 1/2 for the first longer shot and a 1/4 for closer shots are popular choices for both fixed and variable choke shotguns.
Clothing and Equipment
Grouse have excellent eyesight. To avoid being seen Guns and their Loaders have to dress accordingly. This means subdued colours (most tweeds do the job admirably), a hat to shade the face and dark gloves to mask the movement of white hands as guns are passed back and forth between Gun and Loader.
Shooting glasses to cut glare and protect from a stray pellet as well as efficient aural protection should be employed during all shooting.