Should guns be in slips between drives?

Should guns always be kept in slips between drives? Picture: Nick Ridley

Should guns always be kept in slips between drives? Picture: Nick Ridley - Credit: nick ridley

How can we ensure safety on a shoot day?

Question: I would be interested in your views on something that I see happening more each year. My concern arises on a shooting day when Guns are gathered together between drives. Their guns are open but they still have cartridges in the chambers. This season, two of them told me that they would shut their guns and shoot at any game that appeared whilst we were talking. What is your view on this?

Howard Kirby replies: Funnily enough, whilst on a shoot day last season some shooting mates and I were involved in just the situation you describe. This then resulted in one of the Guns, in his excitement, letting off a shot that came as close as I’ve ever seen to there being a very serious shooting accident.

This cannot be right. Shots being fired unexpectedly between drives really should not be tolerated. Your shoot captain needs to ensure this stops and that it’s made very clear to everyone that this is simply unacceptable, irrespective of how experienced and safe Guns deem themselves to be. It will only end in tears. The signal to stop shooting means exactly that and everyone should fully understand that shooting does not start again until Guns are at their pegs or the keeper gives the signal to do so. Guns should be open, empty or checked to ensure that all cartridges are removed and then the empty gun put in a sleeve.

Whilst we’re on the subject of safety; if everyone ensures that they are practising good muzzle awareness at all times then everyone will be much safer. To be absolutely clear, whether your gun is loaded, open, empty or in its sleeve, at no point should the muzzles be allowed to point at anything or anybody you don’t intend to shoot. Have a look around you! There is definitely room for improvement with some of the Guns in most shooting environments.

This kind of safety situation is down to common sense being applied. I’m sure that with a bit of sensitively, the situation you refer to can be dealt with before next season to ensure that shooting is carried out safely and that everyone involved with the shoot feels happy and safe, avoiding any ‘bad feeling’ between Guns.

What do you think? Email