How To Bag your First Grouse: Top Tips

Glorious Twelfth is almost here, meaning keen shooters the country over will be preparing their shooting bag in anticipation of a season full of grouse and partridge. But what happens if you’re a novice when it comes to game shooting? Luckily, we’re here to help, with everything you need to know to bag your first grouse!

first grouse

Before the big day

Depending on how soon your shooting day is, you might want to consider booking out some time for a lesson or two at a recommended shooting school. Not only will they be able to get you comfortable with being in the butt (the square shooting hide where you stand to shoot– no sniggering back there), but most importantly – you will get some valuable safety knowledge before being in the field.

On the big day

Make nice

If you don’t have time for shooting school before the big day – then the loader will be your best friend. Don’t be scared, they’re some of the nicest people you’ll meet on a shoot. Just let them know it’s your first time or first grouse – and they’ll probably have some good advice for you; what line the birds will take, how high or low they’ll be flying and where you should be aiming. Since 40% of the birds can be shot out the back of the butt, some prior knowledge will help you have a full bag at the end of the day.

Get familiar

What’s more, take the time to look about, familiarise yourself with your butt, the ground and the sky. Pick a marker out in the field to judge the line of the birds against so you know when to lift and fire. That way, your first grouse won’t be all shoot and hope.

first grouse

Safety sticks

But most importantly, remember to set up your safety sticks – a wire stick frame to stop you shooting too far left or right. ‘Walking past your sticks’ is all too common amongst beginner shooters, but despite being common – it is incredibly dangerous for you and your fellow shooters, so ensure they are set up correctly before you shoot anything.


Nothing fancy – but make sure you’re wearing dark colours. Breeks, long socks, shirt, tie and waistcoat – and you’re sorted!

Watch your feet

Footwork is one of the biggest secrets to good shooting – as it allows you to swap between shooting at the front and back of your butt quickly and efficiently. Perhaps the best advice is to stay in the outline of your safety sticks whenever possible – giving you spinning access to both ends of the butt with ease. Experiment until you feel comfortable, but keep your legs moving and your feet warm for a quick turn.


The most essential piece of equipment any novice shooter can take on their first shoot is shooting insurance. If you’re not completely comfortable, accidents can happen at any time, so you want to make sure you and your fellow shooters are safe. Gunplan’s shooting insurance offers £10m Public Liability insurance, plus equipment cover, Personal Accident protection and much more. Get your tailored online quote today and get 12% off your quote!

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