Like any sport there are great loaders and there are the not so good loaders. The great loaders always have a loaded gun ready for you. However fast you seem able to shoot, they maintain a constant rhythm of blurred hands taking cartridges from mouth, hand, pocket and bag, ejecting and loading the gun, passing it back and forth. At the end of the drive you will turn and ask "how on earth did you do that"?! The not so good loaders meanwhile will normally be caught gazing into the sky watching your shots and fumbling with the cartridges having not been paying attention to the empty gun. If the loader knows exactly what you have shot on the drive, it has either been very quiet, or he falls in the latter catagory!
One thing though that all the loaders have in common, is a true love of the sport and local shoot knowledge. They too have come for a nice day of sport and will always be a great companion for the day. Carrying your guns and cartridges, remembering your peg number after lunch and cleaning your guns at the ned of the day. All this and boosting your morale when needed and complimenting you if they have the time. For the first time shooter the loader will always make you feel relaxed, explain what is going on and what will happen which I think is a huge benefit so people don't get bogged down in the etiquette.
A big 'thank you' to the many loaders who have helped me to enjoy my day's shooting over the years, some of whom are pictured above. May there be many more days to come!
Photographs by Mark Hall. Hallmark Imaging.