So you’ve been invited shooting by some terribly kind host, or perhaps you are lucky enough to go to a corporate day through work. Perhaps you just haven’t discovered the joy (and frustration!) of game shooting yet and feel like your friends who do shoot are speaking a completely different language? I’ll let you in on a little secret…they are. But for the uninitiated, I’ve compiled a little of shooting terms; a glossary that will help you blague your way through a day’s shooting.



The envy of every person in the field. A person who has somehow managed to make career of going shooting, talking about shooting and encouraging others to go shooting. Acts as the liaison between your shooting party and the shooting estate.


Person in the field who flushes gamebirds during a shoot day. Generally done by people in the local community who just a love a day in the countryside.

Beating line

A row of beaters standing in a line ensuring all the birds go forward over the guns, not slipping through behind.


A pair of birds. For example, 50 brace of grouse translates to 100 individual birds.

Cover crop

Plants (such as kale and maize) planted on shoots to provide gamebirds with food and shelter. Pheasants #lovekale too.


Get your head out of the gutter. A male pheasant, identified by vivid plumage and long tail feathers.


Again, head out of the gutter. This is performed in between shoot days by the Gamekeeper and his team. Involves going around the edges of the shooting estate with dogs, moving any birds that may have wandered off back onto the estate.


Both an area and a timescale in driven game shooting. Lasting up to 30 minutes, it is the time and place where birds will be shot at. Usually 4 – 6 drives per day.

Driven game

Form of shooting in which game birds are flushed over standing guns.


A male duck. Or a successful Canadian rapper worth squillions who has been linked to Taylor Swift.


A person who works on the estate to look after the game birds and their habitats.

Ground game

Quarry including squirrels, foxes or deer that are ground dwelling as opposed to birds.

Gun (with a capital G)

A shooter, usually in a line of 8-10.

Gun bus

A trailer in which the Guns are transported between drives. Can range from a pick up to a very plush wagon with heated seats and even WiFi if the rumours are true.


A naturally impeccably trained dog, usually a labrador or spaniel. Also known as a ‘working dog’.


Usually the estate owner or manager. The shoot host runs the day, is often also the safety officer and is on hand throughout the day to look after the Guns, beaters, pickers-up, gamekeeper, underkeeper….Basically superhuman.


The clue is in the title…Morning tea served at roughly 11am, usually consisting of hot soup (generous slosh of sherry optional), sausage rolls, scotch eggs, sausages and so on, washed down with sloe gin, whiskey and champagne.


Also a known as a Stop. A subspecies of beater, located at the ends of the beating line to ensure the birds don’t fly sideways away from the line, and subsequently, avoid the guns.


Another subspecies of beater, stands waving a flag between the beating line and the guns at strategic points to discourage the birds from dipping down whereby they are too low to shoot.


(verb) to flush – to encourage a bird to fly up by means of waving a flag, beating the ground with sticks, trilling one’s voice or by canine. (noun). a flush – a group of gamebirds going overhead in a large group. Best to have your gun ready and loaded.


A person who will stand next you to load your gun, and ensure you are shooting safely. Upon request will also dispense diplomatic coaching and general banter.

Live on pegs

Means you may start shooting as soon as you reach your designated peg, rather than waiting for a horn to sound. Differs between shoots so make sure you are clear at the morning briefing what rules apply – there is no sound louder than a single shot ringing out before the drive starts by an overly eager Gun.


Usually hollered, by either your loader, picker-up, or next door neighbour. Indicates a bird is coming ‘over’ you, usually from an unusual direction such as behind or to the side.

Picker up

Person who retrieves shot game with the aid of their trusty dog.


The post or marker at which you will stand during a driven game day. Most commonly numbered 1-9.

Peg candy

A colloquial term given to the WAGs of shooting enthusiasts. Invited to stand next to their partner looking pretty and murmuring words of admiration and encouragement. Can be expensive to keep in the latest fashionable tweed.


As in ‘not very sporting’. Usually said with a general air of superiority when one’s behaviour is wanting, e.g., shooting a low bird, poaching a bird from your neighbour, taking the last sausage roll without offering it…


In rural life, this is a person who shoots deer for recreation or land management and conservation, not the creepy man with questionable facial hair who moves carriages when you do on the tube.


A pool of Guns that take a number of days shooting across the season, then share them amongst the group.

Walked up game

Form of shooting in which the shooter flushes the game birds as they walk over the shooting ground.

Wiping one’s eye

Shooting a neighbour’s bird that they have tried and failed to shoot. Extra points if it is done by the lesser experienced Gun, or worse, their wife!