Avoid domestic upsets but only relying on yourself for a plentiful supply of ammo, says Amelia Northbrook
One may hope for bountiful birds but the main prerequisite for a happy day’s shooting is an equally plentiful supply of ammo. But only rely on yourself to get it to the peg, says Amelia Northbrook.
Find out what journalist and fisherman Mike Daunt would never be without in the field, read my favourite bit of kit: Mike Daunt.
A good day’s shooting hinges on many things. Desired ingredients, in no particular order, include: likeminded, congenial company; accommodating weather conditions; good food and wine; and fast, plentiful quarry – all of which can be variable and outside one’s control. But in the case of the latter, if one is lucky enough to be invited to a day well-endowed with willing and bountiful birds, the main prerequisite for a happy shooting experience is an equally plentiful supply of ammo.
I have always struggled over the best way to transport one’s bullets. A fully laden cartridge bag is cumbersome and heavy to carry as well as the gun, particularly if your peg is at the top of a steep hill; filling one’s pockets sometimes makes for an awkward retrieval, especially in the heat of the moment, and I have never got on particularly well with cartridge belts. However, my life changed irrevocably for the better when dear Spanish friends, Mercedes and Gonzalo Prado, gave me a beautiful double cartridge bag on a wide leather belt that sits snugly on one’s hips over the shooting jacket, providing the perfect solution to my perennial problem and an evenly balanced compromise between belt and bag.
The Prados are a brilliantly talented husband-and-wife team, designers and owners of T.ba, a fabulously chic and innovative Spanish brand. This belted double cartridge bag, handmade in the Toledo province from oiled calf leather, has fast become my favourite shooting accessory, ensuring that I have a more than adequate, easily accessible supply of ammo for the entire drive and, importantly, peace of mind and confidence that I will not find myself in that most embarrassing of positions for a guest gun (especially a girl gun): running out of cartridges at the critical moment.
This is a pivotal reason why my T.ba double bag immediately endeared itself. Not long before I became the proud owner of said bag, I found myself in that hapless situation one day on a breathtakingly exciting shoot in Wiltshire. It was the drive after lunch (no coincidence here?) and the relatively new but nonetheless dearly beloved boyfriend, having nobly volunteered to load for the day, and I staggered up to the top of a high valley where I had drawn king stand. Sure enough, the birds starting zooming over and I blasted away with the few cartridges I had left in my pocket, before asking Darling for more bullets, please, at which point he replied: “But you have the cartridge bag.”
“No I don’t,” I shot back, tersely.
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t…” until the dreadful realisation dawned: my brimming cartridge bag was in the gun wagon, parked way below, impossibly far to make a mad dash for it. Oh the shame, the ignominy! The jokes and leg-pulling at the end of the drive were merciless and I didn’t live it down for a long time; the dearly beloved’s dereliction of duty was the nadir of his loading career.
However, happily, I am now sorted with my double cartridge bag, which hugs my body sturdily, making it feel curiously wrong not to have it on, like going out without your boots. It’s a piece of kit on which I can rely (no comparisons intended here, of course) and so the buck stops with me now.
And as for the dearly beloved boyfriend, amazingly, even after this worst of shooting faux pas, not long afterwards I agreed to marry him, for better or for worse, loaded or unloaded.
Amelia Northbrook is a keen shot and writer.