How to prep for the shooting season ahead, with hot shot Charlie Stewart-Wood
Shooting Q & A session with freelance instructor, and hot shot Charlie Stewart-Wood
Benedict & Hott gets the inside information on how to prepare for the season ahead with Former Atkin Grant & Laing Director, and AA CSPA shot Charlie Stewart-Wood. Charlie grew up surrounded by shooting on his Oxfordshire family farm and has been experience within the industry for over 10 years.
Can you remember your first shoot? How did you get into shooting?
You know it’s been a big part of your life when you can’t really remember when you first started going out, but I can’t, it was always just something we did. As a family, we all started shooting , by moving through the different positions of a shoot and earnt our peg as such, I used to go beating, then I helped load and then moved onto my own peg. I shot my first pheasant with a side by side 410. and was hooked.
Tell us about the first time you shot grouse, set the scene…
Crikey, my first-time shooting grouse was the ultimate grouse experience and I was very very lucky. An old family friend took a place in Perthshire for a week and arranged a day’s grouse shooting, whilst we were up there. We shot on the12th August, all walked up and we went on for absolute miles. I shot my grouse on the same day as 3 childhood friends. A really great day, with lots of celebrations that night….
What is the most important lesson who have taught so far, as an instructor?
Number one, and it goes without saying – safety safety safety. Anyone would agree that safety is the most important thing to practice, consider and action when shooting. Teaching and instilling that into someone who has just got into the sport, or reminding experienced guns is always something I am happy to do.
If I was allowed a second lesson and one directly linked to a grouse shooting, would be to help guns learn more about the day, as it is quite full on. To inform people on the layout of the day, where the beaters are, where the flankers are and get them used to the fact that birds will often come at them, at eye level, or just above or just below and then flip, dive and swerve at the last second.
For a new gun to be fully prepared in terms of the day, and what to expect, will also help the gun be extra safe and take away any nerves. They will get the very best out of the day.
What is the one thing that you wouldn’t leave the house with on a grouse day?
I’ll need more than one thing… I’ll need at least three!
- My waterproofs, as the weather is unbelievable changeable on a moor…
- My Benedict & Hott Bond cap – which is the perfect shade of green to blend into the moorland and the peak helps keep rain off my face.
- Shooting glasses, primarily for safety, but also for the changing light. Ideally, I would take two lenses, to you are prepared for all eventualities!
What would you say is key preparation for the game season ahead?
Sounds boring, but practice, practice, practice. With grouse, people are different, they will often arrive on a moor having had lessons prior to the day or at least been at a local shooting school that has a butt etc, but with partridges and pheasants, people tend to pick up their gun for the first time that season, on that day…then go back to the shooting school.
To prepare for any type of bird, I would head to my local shooting ground and get some 1:1 sessions with an instructor, to help bring safety back to the forefront of your mind, to check on your gun fitting etc and to generally blow away the cobwebs!
Alternatively, and something I am a huge fan of…is pigeon shooing, aka the blue grouse! Pre-season stubble fields produce a brilliant opportunity to practice your shooting skills, and the way a pigeon ducks and dives is the closest presentation to grouse that you will see. Sitting in a hide, hovering above your seat and then getting up above your hide will help prepare some muscle memory, which is perfect for the butt! (titter titter)
Most exciting wildlife siting on a moor….
My absolute favourite and most exciting – black game. For me, it is one of the main examples of moorland being really well looked after and they are always great to see. One word of advice though…if you are shooting grouse and a covey comes over and if there is one bird that stand out, the one bird that catches your eye – don’t shoot it…it’s probably black grouse!
Finally, grouse or salmon?
Ah, well that is tricky, as we speak I am currently fishing on the Okyel River in Scotland and we’ve been here two days and I’ve not caught a fish… if there was a grouse nearby, I could definitely shoot it – so today I will say grouse and hope for a salmon tomorrow!!