Of course a trip like this requires some preparations, and preparing is what I've been doing. Most of my prep efforts have come in the form of clay shooting. I've spent a good deal of time at skeet, a little time at sporting clays, and even made arrangements to practice shooting incoming clays thrown out of a high tower. Driven game is generally presented as high incoming targets, though high crossing targets may be presented, too. As this is a presentation I've rarely had opportunity to shoot, except for a few days of pass-shooting ducks, I thought a session on the high tower would be prudent. It was. Sure, I had to work out a few issues, mostly relating to my neutral eye dominance and how the target looked, but it went well. Strangely, I found the difficulty of the various presentations opposite how I'd imagined them. I'd expected the high right to left crosser to be the easiest as one is pushing the gun into their face, and the straight incomer as the most difficult as the shooter looses sight of the target swinging ahead to the appropriate amount of lead. On the contrary, I shot the incoming targets easily, and struggled with the high right to left crossing target. Either way, if you've never had an opportunity to shoot a high tower, seek one out. It is a ton of fun. I really enjoyed it, and will regularly shoot the tower from now on.
The rest of my preparations revolve around trying to learn about the culture of shooting in the UK. Shoots take many forms, and most Americans are probably only familiar with the shooting scenes in Downton Abbey, or the movie Gossford Park. True, many are quite formal in their undertaking and held on large estates, but just as many, if not more are DIY affairs put together by a shooting syndicate, and held on leased farm land. The shoot I'll be joining is just such. As a DIY shoot all participants play a variety of roles. The shoot is a walk one-stand one shoot, meaning I will shoot 3 drives, and beat, trying to move birds forward over the line of guns, for 3 drives. As a first timer I think this is a fantastic way to see the entire operation of a shoot, though if I could have one wish granted it would be to bring my springer, Ginger, along to work as a pick up dog. I think if I lived in the UK I'd spend more time picking up at a shoot than shooting. I do love good dog work.
I've also got to consider what to wear. Blaze orange is not an acceptable option. Granted, on large estate shoots Tweeds are the only appropriate attire. The shoot I'll be attending is not quite as formal. I've already been told I'll not need a tie, though I'll probably wear one. After all, informal or not, one does not simple fly to England to shoot and not wear a tie. Of course I'll wear wellies, but that's nothing new. I've been hunting and shooting in wellies, exclusively, for years. And most likely my Barbour Beaufort waxed cotton coat will make the trip, too. Waxed cotton coats are seldom worn on driven days, but shooting with a DIY syndicate that rough shoots, as well as varmint shoots, I expect it won't be out of place.
What about the guns? you ask. Well, I'm not bringing one. My host has offered me the use of his guns, and that is a huge relief. Yes, I could bring my own gun, but there is considerable paper work involved, and as I will be travelling around England a bit (Manchester, and London) I would rather not have to wade through the various English laws concerning travel and storage.
So, you can look forward to a full report in a couple of weeks, and hopefully a bit of updating while I'm on the road. Also, I'd like to extend a special thank you to Jack at Addieville East farm in Rhode Island who set up, and let me shoot their high tower on a day when the club was closed.