“I have been beating since I was 10” – Francesca Grieve

The first gun I shot with was my fathers 12 bore and it terrified me because it kicked! I decided that I was on the beating team instead so I have been beating since I was 10. When I started to shoot with a smaller gun at 12 I found I loved it. I have been beating and shooting every season since then and have found no greater company than a team of beaters and guns sharing a flask between drives in a windy wood.

Here there is a concentration of knowledge bursting the seams in conversations about the countryside. I grew up in Cumbria and listening to a broad Cumbrian voice telling me the difference between a male buzzard and female buzzard or how to train a dog to retrieve a bird from the water is how I spend my days when I am not out with the local pack. So much can be shared over the lunch table in the lodge or in the silence as we sit and wait for the beating line to curve and draw us in.

Last year I shot my first pheasant despite years of trying. It was in front of some old family friends and they all saw. Needless to say I was very proud. However, that was far surpassed by the pride I felt in my first dog receiving 2nd in the gundog class at the local show. She wandered slightly when I was walking away and she had to stay but her recall so impressed the judges that her previous mistake was forgotten. I was so proud of her that everyone knew of her success within days. She is the perfect partner in the woods and on the field. It is her more than anything that makes my shooting and beating days an absolute pleasure.

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