A collection of antique silver Shooting Butt Markers or Place Finders
The numbered pegs are randomly inserted into the case, number side down. Each shooter then takes their turn to draw a peg and the revealed number shows the shooting position (butt) that they will use for the first drive. They then move up an agreed number of positions (usually 2 or 3) for each subsequent drive. Place finders were very popular in the early 20th century and are making a resurgence today, with many shooters looking out for good antique examples.
A position on a drive where a gun will stand. Pegs will usually be marked with wooden stakes in the ground and numbered. There will generally be 8 to 10 pegs positioned in a field or set area of land which the birds will be pushed towards.
Peg Draw: In the morning on a shoot day guns will choose their peg at random. This will give them the peg number that they will start on. Each shoot is different, but you will generally move up or down 2 numbers for the next drive. For example, if you start on Peg 4 on drive one, you will stand at Peg 6 on drive two and Peg 8 on drive three etc.
The use of numbered pegs and Butt Markers is only necessary for formal "driven shooting". Up until the end of the 17th century, birds were traditionally shot when sitting perched or on the ground, as well as being netted. In the early 18th century development of smooth bore firearms that could fire shot rather than solid balls allowed the occasional flying target to be brought down.
The double barrelled breech loading Shotgun arrived during the mid 19th century, and enabled more accuracy and faster loading. Birds were initially hunted by walking towards them randomly or waiting to ambush them from a hide. The art of ‘driven shooting’, where a team of "beaters" is employed to push the game towards a line of standing guns became popular in the late 19th century and was the preserve of the wealthy and landed classes. It was also popular with the Royal family. The Prince, later King Edward VII, had neither the shape nor the temperament for the hunting field. The organised driven shoot was ideal and its pleasures were admirably exclusive and wonderfully extravagant!
Shooting at Peg No 6
Walking to the next drive where your peg number will change