Just thought I'd share last weeks experience of my DSC L1.
The course started on Thursday morning so, as it was at least two hours away, I decided to go down on the Wednesday night. The weather was atrocious and I was pleased to have changed plans at the last minute, taking my recently repaired Land Rover instead of the car as there was a lot of standing water around and a couple of stretches saw me threading my way past cars that were unable (or unwilling) to drive through water a foot deep! I arrived safely at The Hunter's Moon where I received a very warm welcome from Dean (the landlord) and his staff. This is a really typical 'English pub' with roaring open fire and plenty of curiosities to investigate. I got myself settled in to the comfortable accommodation, had a tasty dinner with a couple of pints of cider and retired for the evening.
After a restful night's sleep and a huge 'full English' it was time to get over to Greenfields. It's easily within walking distance but I took the car as it was once again peeing it down. I was met by Tim Davies and a couple of candidates that had arrived before me and, once everyone was there it was time to head off to the classroom. The facilities are excellent and after the all-round introductions the course kicked off. Deer biology/ecology and identification was the order of the day and we went through many examples of each species/gender, in winter and summer pelage, with Tim giving us the pointers on each - confirming the self-study that I had done beforehand. Some were obvious but some less so... in particular 'long range' CWD where the species is easy but the canine teeth hard to see (if they exist). At the end of the day we took the test and I have to say that the actual test slides were a lot easier than the study material - with closer range, much clearer shots. I fell down on one of them, mistaking a Fallow doe for a Sika; it looked to have the 'cap and frown' plus the bottom line of spots was quite well broken up, it was stood in long grass so I couldn't make out the metatarsal glands. Once the day was done it was back to the pub for another fine meal and a few pints.
Tim had stated that if the weather was OK, then the second day would be mostly devoted to the shooting tests. The Gods shone down on us that morning (as well as the sun) and, after a slightly smaller breakfast of bacon & eggs, to prevent the food-coma I'd experienced the previous day, I got there a little early and set off to the range with Tim plus another candidate. He has some lovely woodland and the range is set up looking down a ride with an earth bank pushed up at the end. Not having put in for my FAC yet, I was given the estate rifle to shoot - a fairly well battle-scarred .243 but ultimately functional. Unlike the other candidates, the shooting test was actually the part I was least worried about - having shot many thousands of rounds during my time as a shooting team coach in the Army. However, open ETR ranges with good light, and dark, muddy rides in woodland are two completely different things I now realise! Down in the prone at 100m, laid on pallets to keep out of the mud, Tim showed me how to use the set trigger, which I'd not used before and found that I liked a lot and I had a couple of dry fires. Then I took a sighting shot to familiarise myself with the rifle and prove that it was shooting straight, Tim was spotting through a scope and called an '8' - so now it was all down to me! I loaded up with three rounds and, with the 'four marksmanship principles' echoing around my head, proceeded to take the shots...
The result? Two in the bull and a '9' well chuffed with that! Next was the two shots at the deer target from the same position. Up the back of the foreleg to a point halfway up the body and squeeze, not forgetting the follow through, repeat. Both were kill shots but I'd have liked to have seen them closer than the two inches apart that they ended up. I guess this happens when you have a relatively large, unmarked target to aim at.
A splash and a splosh through the mud down to 70m for the kneeling/sitting. I elected to sit (thankful that I'd had a smaller breakfast) as the rifle had a long bipod fitted, which meant I could dispense with the sticks. I even found a patch of moss to sit on, so nice and comfortable. Two shots, both kills.
Down to the 40m point for the standing shots. This time I used the sticks, which were triples and very steady. The second shot made a different sound than the rest (not from the actual shot but the bullet strike) and we then went down to inspect the target. My heart sank a bit when a quick tot-up only showed five rounds through the target, so was the last one a complete miss? On further inspection we judged that two had gone through the same hole though, so job done!
Back at the classroom we had another study period and took the 50 Questions test in the afternoon. I dropped at least one question here but got a good pass overall (we weren't actually told final percentages).
Day three and the agenda was the Trained Hunter lectures and assessment. Again, I dropped one mark regarding lung worm but ultimately gained a good pass mark. Next it was a combined 'simulated stalk' with safety questions and then it was all over! The course usually runs for four days but, as there were only five of us we completed early - time to get home for tea and medals!
Overall I'm very pleased that I did the course. I had considered just taking the assessments because I was pretty certain I could pass the written tests from home study. If I couldn't pass the shooting test now then I'd need training not covered on the DSC1! Tim was very patient and keen to impart his knowledge - if I hadn't taken the full course I think I would have passed but not learnt nearly as much.
Next steps? Well, I've booked on to the gralloching and larder day with IanF, so I know what to do with my first deer once I've shot it. I've been offered an estate rifle that day if I'd like to get my first beast - still thinking about that one, not sure I want a park deer as my first but I guess they're all much of a muchness? I'm waiting on my second reference form to come back and will then put in my FAC application, although I'm still way up in the air when it comes to deciding on what calibres to ask for! After that - who knows? But I expect it will be exciting and involve asking loads on questions on here.
If you got this far then thanks for reading! Any observations or questions welcomed