The team from Sparsholt college offer advice on how to go about becoming a loader on a large shooting estate...

Q: How would I go about becoming a loader on some of the larger shooting estates around me?

THE SPARSHOLT TEAM replies: Loading is one of the more prestigious jobs on a shoot day, and often goes along with being in favour with the keeper as well as having the required experience and qualifications. Loaders are not really required on days under 400 head.

Many estates should insist on you having some sort of recognised training, which will cover them if there was ever an incident and the Health and Safety Executive was to become involved.

Most loaders are often ex-keepers or shotgun coaches, too, thereby having a lot of experience of shooting with additional subject knowledge, e.g. quarry identification and gamebird legislation. Be sure that you are only loading; if you are asked to coach, a higher level of personal insurance will be required to cover you, in case your client was to do anything wrong while under your tuition.

Loading may be double gunning or just stuffing a single double-barrelled gun. You will be required to carry the guns and sufficient cartridges for the drives; be wary you don’t get the dog, shooting stick and any other paraphernalia to laden you down even more.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) offers a basic course which should arm you with the right knowledge and skills, enough to placate any estate offices – that is if you are lucky enough to be asked to load. Our students will leave after their two years with this additional qualification to ease them into a career. Contact Tim Weston at the NGO for more information.