They may not always be popular and they are always the ones that tell you when you’ve made a mistake, but being a referee is no easy job, as Don Brunt explains

Job Description

Patient, diplomatic type with an eye for attention to detail required for high pressure role in an idyllic rural setting. We are looking for fans of the outdoor life to assist in the compilation of empirical data in a highly competitive and at times highly strung environment. Proven skills in dealing with the public and managing confrontation preferred as is a love of the British weather in all its forms. Physical attributes required are an ability to sit for long periods of time and excellent eyesight, so extra consideration given to ex pilots, air raid wardens etc.

Equipment Provided – None

Remuneration – Minimal

Working Hours – Long

Benefits - The occasional cup of tea…

Doesn’t sound too appealing, does it? Yet every weekend hundreds of people give up their time to go and sit in a field for hours on end, in all weather and for minimal pay. Of course they are the harbingers of bad news when you miss a target and on occasion, like all human beings, they will make a mistake, but without them there would be no competition shooting and people tend to forget that all too often.

Nor are they responsible for the targets that are set on their particular stand, so there is little point in giving them a hard time over a pair of 50 yard battues that make threading a needle with an anchor chain look straightforward.

If you were sitting in that chair, drenched and shivering, wouldn’t you hope that people would pay you a little respect, treat you like a human being and maybe even pick up their empty shells and move them that enormous distance of 3ft to the bin?

Yes, just occasionally they may come across as being a little self important, or they may be more interested in texting their mates than in getting on with the job, but most are very, very good at what they do and usually know the rules inside out and back to front.

If you do disagree with a call that they have made, stay calm, be reasonable and remember that just because they sit next to shooters all day they aren’t deaf so you don’t need to shout at them! Similarly if they are youngsters then consider how you would feel if someone tried verbally bullying your son/daughter/brother/sister just to get an extra X written on a piece of paper.

Referees are the unsung heroes of the shooting world. What they do is difficult, frustrating, at times boring and demoralising and they do it for the kind of money that many wouldn’t even consider getting out of bed for. And because of what they do and the way they do it, you get to enjoy some wonderful days of shooting. That’s got to be worth a “Thank you ref!”

By Don Brunt