top of page

What to expect on a driven game day - pheasant and partridge shooting UK

With my last day of the driven game season completed (although the season hasn't yet ended), I'm already missing the fun and wonderful people that these days bring. However, I am already looking forward to and planning the next seasons shoot days and meet ups.

Driven game shoot UK, pheasant and partridge shooting UK, Shooting Girl With an Afro hunting and foraging blog UK

If you're planning on going alone to a driven shoot as a gun for the first time, it can be a very daunting experience. Even if you have someone by your side talking you through each step, it's helpful to have a bit of an idea beforehand as to what to expect.

If you're an experienced driven game shooter then this blog is not for you. If you are a novice shot who has just got your shotgun license or who is new to driven game days, I hope that this blog can help you to understand a little bit about the process of the day, and what each person's role is. Bear in mind that it can differ slightly from shoot to shoot, but as a general outline this should see you well on your way from 'clueless and overwhelmed' to someone that understands the process, the people behind the scenes, and allow you to focus more on the actual shooting and having fun bit!

Driven game shoot UK, pheasant and partridge shooting UK, Shooting Girl With an Afro hunting and foraging blog UK

Arrival, intros and peg pullling

Usually on a driven shoot day, you will be asked to arrive around half an hour/45 minutes before the shoot begins. This can be at a location that is different to where the shoot itself may take place, such as a local pub.

Usually what happens in this time is that you will meet the other 'guns' (people who are shooting), and have either a full breakfast if that's what your shoot offers, or a cup of tea/coffee and a bacon bap or pastries. This is your first chance to make an impression on the other guns, and get to know other people - some of whom may also be newbies.

Your Game Keeper/shoot captain will introduce themselves and maybe a couple of their team members to the group, explain the rules of the day and hand out peg numbers for each drive (where you stand when you shoot). If you have a bad memory like me, then take a pen to write your peg number on your hand! You'll be moving up either 2 or 3 numbers for each drive so a pen will help - for instance if you start as number 3, the next drive you will be peg number 6, then number 9 etc.

Some shoot syndicates may decide to do a sweepstake too, meaning you pay a sum of money to guess how many shots will be fired on the day, and how many birds will be shot. The winner will be decided at the end of the day, with either all of the money being given to them or a portion going to charity.

After all of this, you will head out to either your cars, the 'gun bus' (driven by a member of the Game Keeper's team to take you to each drive to shoot), or if it is a small shoot you may walk to your first drive.

Driven game shoot UK, pheasant and partridge shooting UK, Shooting Girl With an Afro hunting and foraging blog UK

Guns, beaters, pickers up... what's the difference?

You'll hear these names throughout the day, so it's a good idea to get an understanding of who they are and what they do!

Guns - that's you - will either be stood on a peg shooting at any safe birds that fly over them, or they'll be a 'walking gun', meaning you might hear shots in the distance early in the drive, because a walking gun has joined the beaters to shoot anything that flies out the wrong way. You will usually only see this on smaller syndicate type shoots though.

You may also hear that someone is a 'back gun' and they may be stood 40 - 50 yards behind you and slightly to your left or right. This is because they have been placed to shoot anything that you or your neighbour may miss. But don't be intimidated by them; and don't feel nervous if you're asked to be a back gun. It's no representation of your shooting skills - even the best shooters have bad days!

Beaters - they will usually be seen waving a flag in the distance, walking through cover cop with their dogs, or heard tapping sticks on trees and shouting things like 'haaarrrgh, harrggh!' and 'brrrrrr!' and 'heyy heyy heyyy!' Their job is to try and get as many of the birds up in the air and flying in the right direction and as high as possible. This means that 1) the shot will be safer and more challenging because it's higher, 2) the birds have a sporting chance to get away and live to see another day.

Picking up team - they should rarely be seen if they're doing the job right. These guys have the responsibility of finding any dead birds that managed to fly anywhere between an additonal 200 to 800 yards out of sight after you have shot them (maybe in some woodland, or a nearby lake for example). They will also locate injured birds that may have been shot but made a run for it, so that they can be dispatched quickly and humanely. You will see some guns with their own dogs on the peg, which if the shoot captain allows it they will pick up their own birds that land close by. The picking up team will sweep the whole area though, including where the guns have been standing on their pegs, so no need to panic and start shouting out that 'there's a bird over there somewhere', because the pickers up have the best dogs, with the best noses - they'll find it if it's there.

Driven game shoot UK, pheasant and partridge shooting UK, Shooting Girl With an Afro hunting and foraging blog UK

On the peg - etiquette and getting there

I have shot at many different types of driven shoots over the past 15 years, and 80% of them have had the same etiquette and rules, but there are a few that have been different. However, if you stick to the basics of safety then you'll be good to go. If you don't know what the shooting basics are then you shouldn't be buying a driven shoot day and standing on peg alone yet. But for clarity - 1) stand on peg with your gun 'broken' preferably (especially as a novice) until you come to shoot anything. 2) only shoot what is in front and above you, within your 'V' - hold your arms out in front of you in a wide V shape - do not shoot outside of the V then you won't be shooting your neighbouring pegs birds and won't be shooting over their heads. Some shoots allow you to shoot behind on some drives, but as a novice I would advise against it. 3) Do NOT shoot anything without clear sky behind it - remember, there are often beaters wondering through the trees and hedgerows in front of you! 4) Don't shoot anything on the ground such as rabbits. 5) Pick up your cartridges at the end, unless told not to, as some shoots have a cartridge collector.

Also it's worth bearing in mind that some shoots have wonderful topography with high hills and low valleys, which means you'll need to have a certain level of fitness to walk up hill and down dale to some of the drives - be prepared!

Driven game shoot UK, pheasant and partridge shooting UK, Shooting Girl With an Afro hunting and foraging blog UK

Elevenses/lunch - alcohol

Halfway through the day you'll stop for elevenses, usually after the 2nd drive. This mini feast could consist of sausage rolls, breaded partridge goujons, champagne and sloe gin; or some shoots will even put on a full sit down meal. It could be served in the middle of a field with food and drinked served from the back of someones car, it could be at a farmyard or at a shoot lodge specially built on the grounds for that purpose. Again, it depends on what you've paid for/what type of shoot you're on. Some shoots the beaters will eat separately and will not expect you to chat with them, on others you can wander over and shake the hand of the beaters to thank them for doig a great job. Whatever happens, take it easy on the sloe gin - you've still got a couple of drives to go!

Goodbyes, tips and sweepstakes....

Why do we pay tips? Quite simply because the shoot team work tirelessly all year round to manage the land, to ensure your day runs smoothly. The Gamekeeper especially - feeding the birds, predator control, pest control (rats and other animals that will eat the food meant for the birds), managing the release of birds and all of the legal licenses and paperwork that comes with it, ensuring the correct cover crops are planted to maximise cover and food for the birds during the winter months - plus, if you've never done any beating before, trust me when I say it is very hard work!

Ensure you say your thanks and goodbye to the Keeper and shoot captain, and pass on any feedback you may have from the day. Also - be sure to take a 'brace' or more of birds for your dinner - I usually wait until everyone has had their fill then take as many as I'm allowed! Oh, and it's a good time to swap numbers and arrange future meet ups with any new acquaintances you've made.

Driven game shoot UK, pheasant and partridge shooting UK, Shooting Girl With an Afro hunting and foraging blog UK

When I attended my first driven game shoot, I didn't have a clue what was happening around me. I was just told 'point the gun that way and don't nick anyone elses birds'. Safe to say it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences and I felt the pressure from start to finish! I'm hoping this will help those who are complete beginners to feel more familiar with their surroundings, the people and the lingo on their first shoot.

Check out my resources page for links to where you can find more information on gun safety and where to find a shoot local to you.

Happy Shooting!


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Shooting Girl With An Afro | Shooting & Conservation Blog UK.jpg

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I hope you're enjoying reading my blog! I'm not an expert, I only wish to share my personal experiences, of someone who did not grow up in the countryside nor enter the hunting world in the traditional way.

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page