I spent Monday morning being taught how to use a shotgun at E.J. Churchill, a shooting ground in High Wycombe. If you’re a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds you probably won’t approve, but it gets worse. I was with my friend Merlin Wright and we had taken our 12-year-old sons with us so that they could learn how to shoot, too. Needless to say, after they’d hit a few clays they were completely hooked and couldn’t wait to take aim at the real thing.
Merlin brought his own gun and is an experienced shot, but I’m a bit of a novice. Until two years ago I’d never been on a proper grouse shoot. Its appeal was immediate. I don’t just mean the sheer sport of trying to hit a low-flying bird travelling at high speed in a wiggly line (the avian equivalent of a North Korean missile). There’s also the beauty of the moorland when the heather is in full bloom, the springy feeling of the grass underfoot, the abundant wildlife. (To read more, click here.)