An increasing number of estates are offering shooting, fishing and horse-riding on their land and the participation in these pursuits is a costly business. Looking at shooting in particular, aside from the cost of the general equipment (cartridges, belts, guns, game carriers, shooting sticks) there are indirect costs associated with this country tradition. More than a million people take part in shooting sports every year in the UK and while Britain has just about one of the lowest rate of shooting accidents in the world, participants in this sport need to be aware of the potential hazards that might arise.
For those who participate regularly in shooting activities, sporting agents Woodward Bailey offer some basic safety tips:
Never point a gun, loaded or not at someone else! Whether walking in line, or standing at your peg, keep your barrels high in the air or pointed directly at the ground.
Guns should only ever be loaded immediately prior to expecting a shot; on driven days this is not before the signal for the drive to start has been given.
On shoots, you may sometimes see people standing with a gun laying in the crook of their arm or with the barrels horizontal across their waist. This is totally unacceptable and very dangerous.
Keep your gun in its slip or broken and unloaded between drives. Guns must also be unloaded before crossing over any obstacle or before ever being handed to another person.
Always check that your barrels are clear before loading the gun and never keep mixed caliber cartridges in your pockets. When shooting driven birds, never swing the barrels through the line of guns and always be aware of everybody else’s position. A shot in a direction that could potentially endanger anybody else must never be taken.
Of course, accidents will happen but adhering to these straightforward safety rules will limit the number of shooting incidents that might occur. However, it is important to ensure that you are covered should an incident arise on your land while shooting or indeed following any country pursuit such as horse-riding, fishing or hunting.
Take a look at your home insurance policy and make sure that your guns are covered under your normal contents policy. Your Purdeys may need to be covered under the arts and antiques section. Limits and conditions will vary depending on policies. Also make sure that country pursuits are covered under the legal liability section as should someone get injured on an organized shoot you may be held liable for their injuries.