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NOBS-are you registered yet?

Mark Elliott and David Babington, planning cover

NOBS – OR, as it is properly known, is the National Organisation of Beaters & Pickers up, is an umbrella organisation uniting gamekeepers, beaters and pickers up. It was started earlier this year, by Mark Elliott, who saw that there are some 60,000 to 80,000 people involved in shooting who do not have any representation and no line of communication to alert beaters and pickers up that a local shoot might need help in the coming season.

"The idea started as a bit of joke really" Mark told OUR DOGS, "It was pouring with rain and the guns were late, so as a joke I told Charlie the gamekeeper we were going, he said you can’t do that who is going to beat for us today? It then occurred to me that we should have an organisation for beaters, and somehow the idea stuck in my mind".

Mark later joined forces with David Babington, a senior partner at the Arrow Veterinary Clinic in Swindon and between them they set up their own shoot. "It was at this point that we realised that we would need to get beaters and pickers up, but the problem was, were do you find people willing to bring their dogs and spend a day in the countryside in the depths of winter? Most beaters and pickers up will have their shooting dates organised well in advance, we really did not know where to go or who to ask".

It was at this point that that Mark wrote to the Shooting Times to suggest that it might be a good idea to have a specialist organisation for beaters, pickers up and gamekeepers to get in touch with each other. Much to Mark’s surprise it was letter of the week, and people starting getting in touch agreeing this was a very good idea.

The problem, which now presented, was how to do it? How do you start a brand new organisation and get people together? Luckily, Mark was introduced to Scott Mossop, a keen country sportsman and an IT student in Newcastle. Scott developed a web site and within six weeks the site of going live, the site had over 4,500 hits and had registered just over 700 members. The organisation now has 37 county representatives from the highlands of Scotland to the south of England. "We are thrilled with the success of the organisation, but we want to develop the idea, to encourage people to come into the countryside and learn about shooting and conservation".

The organisation not only puts gamekeepers in touch with experienced beaters or pickers up, but allows people who want to learn more or get back into the sport after break or moving districts, to be welcomed on to shoots. "We are hoping to put on beaters training days and maybe eventually pickers up training days, so that people who have never worked a dog on a shoot can try it and hopefully come into the sport, it is very important to encourage new people, and to train them so that they do not feel that it is too daunting to even try to get on a shoot and work their dogs".

On Mark and David’s shoot novice and ‘first time out’ handlers are welcomed as are more unusual minority breeds of gundogs and young people who are interested to learn more.
l If you would like to know more visit the NOBS website: