Beaters are a crucial ingredient to any day’s driven game shooting and are responsible for pushing game out over a team of guns. If you enjoy a day in the great outdoors, being off the well-worn footpaths that everyone uses, seeing parts of the countryside you wouldn’t normally see and meeting a really eclectic bunch of people at the same time, then joining a team of beaters is well worth doing.
Getting into beating is also a fantastic entry point into the world of shooting, making it ideal for novices who are interested in taking up the sport, as well as an invaluable income stream for many thousands of people.
How to get into beating for the first time
If you don’t know anyone in the shooting world, getting that first invite can seem elusive. Most keepers will have a regular team of beaters that they can call on but they will always be welcoming to newcomers as shoots happen on differing days of the week and they can often be left short.
The simplest way to get into beating is to find out who the keeper is on your local shoot and simply give them a call or knock on their door and offer your services. If you are struggling to find out who the keeper is then just ask your local landowner or farmer. They will almost certainly be able to point you in the right direction. If the first keeper doesn’t need anyone then they will be likely to refer you to someone who does, but do feel free to ask who their neighbouring keepers are and keep trying until you are successful.
No particular skill is needed other than the ability to follow instructions and to be fit enough to handle a full day’s exercise on all terrains and in all weathers. No particular equipment is needed either although a good stick and a healthy sense of humour wouldn’t go amiss. Having a dog is an added bonus but it needs to be exceedingly well trained and totally under control – otherwise your time beating will be pretty short!
What to expect on the day
The grouse season opens on 12th August, partridge on 1st September and pheasant on 1st October with the game shooting season finishing on 1st February so there’s an opportunity to be beating for almost half of the year.
Grouse beating is the most arduous type but as it happens in August and September the weather tends to be fine and the views from the top of the moor can be spectacular. Partridge beating can also be done over large areas of hill whereas pheasant beating tends to be done through woods and game crops.
On the kit front, a decent pair of boots are a must whatever sort of beating you are doing. Clothing will depend on the time of year but layering is to be recommended as you will be taking hard exercise one minute and then standing the next. It could be lovely, sunny and warm in the morning and foul in the afternoon, so a good set of waterproofs are essential unless you are 100% sure about the forecast for the day.
Beating is done in teams with a team of beaters being organised and controlled by either the gamekeeper or an under-keeper who will dictate who goes where, through what and at what pace to ensure the right number of birds are put over the team of guns to enable them to get their expected bag.
See our related articles below for more about the role of the beater and our top picks to get kitted out for the day.