Posted by Bethan Bithell on 2nd Sep 2015
Whether you are new to ‘beating’ or well versed with the sport, managing tough terrain can always be difficult. Brambles and thorns can cause havoc and sometimes ruin the whole day!
Beating is a sport enjoyed by many. Being a beater is an important role and by working with other beaters and shooters, it can be a sociable occasion.
Apart from enjoying the fresh air and fabulous views, becoming a beater has many other benefits. For example, due to the long hours and the amount of walking needed, beating is a fantastic way of getting some exercise plus meeting like-minded people.
What to wear when out beating?
Knowing what to wear when out beating can sometimes be a bit tricky. Is it leather boots or wellingtons, jeans or wax over-trousers?
Due to the amount of time spent on your feet, it is recommended that a tough pair of leather boots are worn. Leather boots are designed to offer support and comfort, whilst Wellington boots can be cold and difficult to wear, and may even cause blisters! When out beating its always best to wear leather boots with leg gaiters. The gaiters will give extra protection from thorns, heather and brambles. Wellingtons are fine however – and the best footwear to wear – if standing around on muddy ground, or walking through streams – but even then, you may still have cold feet!
When considering gaiters, it is necessary to think about the ease of putting them on and how tough they are. Due to the damage thorns can cause, it is suggested that wax gaiters are worn. However wax gaiters can be stiff and awkward to wear sometimes and, if this is the case, you may want to consider a ‘rip stop’ gaiter or overtrousers. These will give you similar protection – although may not actually be thorn proof! Remember, wax gaiters are tough and easy to reproof!
There are clear benefits of wearing leather boots that have sturdy sole units, an example of which is the Grisport leather boots. These fantastic boots will give you the extra support you need when walking on uneven, rocky terrain. Do ensure that the boots you wish to purchase are equipped with a Vibram sole unit. Such sole units are slip resistant. Vibram soles are subjected to extensive testing by outdoor professionals – checking the performance and capabilities of this sole unit before they go out into the market place. It’s worth considering that Vibram soles are suitable for a wide range of outdoor walking activities and situations, such as climbing, ascending and descending and they are suitable for all types of terrain, including snow, rocks, grass, mud, ice or woodland – and can be used comfortably in wet or dry conditions. A complete all-rounder sole unit!*
It’s also worth noting that a flexible sole really is necessary if you are crouching down a lot – so look out for a leather boots with rubber sole units, as these won’t crack under the strain!
Just as much consideration should be given to te socks you wear! For extra cosiness and warmth, it is recommended that a loop-stitched sock is worn. Loop-stitch has very little seams and, due to their unique loop-stitched inner, these socks give a bit of a ‘bounce’ when walking. An ‘up to the knee’ sock will provide additional comfort, support and protection at the point of your ankle. Plus, adding a woolly, warm foot bed, insoles, will prevent the damp from penetrating your feet!
Alternatively, wax leggings or trousers will give great protection. Wax leggings are easy to put on, pack small in a rucksack or ‘game’ bag,and won’t restrict movement. These are both reproof able and thorn proof!
To guarantee many years of enjoyment from your wax gaiters, leggings and over trousers, don’t forget to dry them out properly after use and give them a bit of tender loving care with a re-proofing treatment once in a while. Actually the same applies to any leather boot – remember, brambles can be hard on leather!
Beating involves flushing out birds,using flags, whistles and dogs. Generally beaters walk in a line, move forward together flushing out game birds for shooters who are waiting on the hills. There can be a lot of standing around waiting in all weathers, so being prepared is a ‘must’ if you are to keep warm and prevent hypothermia. The most effective way to do this is to wear plenty of layers. Layers are recommended because they can be added or taken off, depending on the weather. These layers trap air and therefore keep you warm!** When beating, it’s likely that your hands will be waving about in the air, so a good pair of warm, comfortable gloves will be a very good investment, particularly those with a good grip to hold on to your flags. It may be worth considering a pair of waterproof gloves, with an extra glove liner, ideal for those extremely cold, uncomfortable days!
Another way you can avoid getting cold, when out in all elements, is to keep your head warm. Heat escapes through the top of the head, so a warm comfortable hat is really a necessity. So, it may be worth considering buying a trapper hat which can be clipped underneath the chin to keep your ears warm. A neck gaiter is also a great addition, in order to keep the neck area warm.
It goes without saying that waterproof jackets, trousers, or breeks, will keep you dry as you push your way through those brambles, bushes, or wet grass. Also, do consider that Tweed clothing is ideal when beating, as it is both tough and waterproof. Tweed breeks are great and often beaters will match up their tweed breeks with a tweed waistcoat and tweed jacket. Waistcoats are great layers as they give you the warmth needed for your back, whilst giving plenty of movement in the arm area. Wax jackets are also a great choice for beating, as these can be hosed down at the end of the day! Incidentally, try to avoid bright colours – neutral colours will be considered acceptable by other beaters and shooters.
Beating is indeed a serious sport, but there’s nothing to stop you having a bit of fun with what you wear. Why not brighten up the mutual tones of the tweed breeks and waistcoats with a pair of shooters pattern braces or a pheasant silk tie. Very snazzy! Plus don’t forget your hip flask to provide refreshment when and as required.To recap, your essential beating kit should include:
- Leather boots – with a Vibram sole unit, if possible, for extra grip and comfort
- Wax or rip stop gaiters – to protect your ankle from thorns and brambles
- Wax or rip stop leggings or over-trousers – wax is tough and thorn proof, and re-proofable
- Gloves – to keep your hands warm, especially when holding your flag
- Cosy, warm hat – preferably with a “tie under the chin” option, to prevent your hat from blowing off
- Tweed jacket, waistcoat and breeks – these are produced from tough and waterproof fabric
Important facts:Did you know that there are important restrictions in place, enforced by the Countryside Alliance. These include:England and Wales
No game may be killed on Sundays or Christmas Day and game may not be shot between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise!
For further restrictions on shooting game birds, wildfowl, Geese and Waders and Ground Game, Deer and Wild Boar, check out the Countryside Alliance website.
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* For more information check out the Vibram sole website.