This is my first full length, super time extensive, information packed, comedy lacking, article/post.
Granted I am relatively new to the forum. However, I come from a background of .22lr shooting (when I lived up North, Warrington), or airgun ratting. So if you read most of my threads, it's about how much I suck at shooting rabbits with my springer. Fatally embarrassing, but what they hey, I know how to do 1 thing well, and that is what I'm showing here.
I am a salesman. So facing rejection is non-event for me. The expression water off a ducks back comes to mind. However, I understand that MANY shooters are not salesman 9-5. So the rejection and even opening a conversation with a total stranger and building trust ASAP is not always second nature to everyone. Please don't think I'm a know it all. I'm still learning everyday, and many of the guys on the forum are helping me improve my skills everyday. I go out, I practice, and I practice, and I get closer and closer everyday. I'm no Si Pittman, but I'm putting in the trigger time and am open to learning as much as possible.
With this in mind, and with 6 permissions under my belt (hopefully with a 7th and 8th on the way...most my permissions are just ratting so I'm really not being greedy) I come to you to help you out with getting that first, second, or even 100th permission.
Getting a permission is almost the same as getting a girlfriend, but less expensive and no need for alcohol in your system or theirs. Many of the things you do for one you'll also need to do for the other. Also, permissions are guarded by a person, just as much as they would guard their girlfriends. To be fair, many guys will have had their permission longer than they've had their girlfriend, and know the permission much better too.
So, without further a due I bring to you my knowledge and experiences for getting permissions.
Go to where your prospects are!
Oh my goodness, if you're not slapping yourself on the head already because you've not thought about this, then you should! Give that forehead a big ol' "OH YEAH" slap! Sitting around on the internet asking for a permission will not always work. It rarely works. There are exceptions, but I'll explain why permissions are rarely passed around online later on.
The first places to check for getting a permission, farmers markets (it's in the name, pretty easy to get in touch with farmers here), farms (OMG, genius), and places like that.
There are stories of guys that have been at the range for years that still don't have a permission. Week in and week out they complain about not having a permission. You show them sympathy and try to encourage them and keep their spirits high. As it turns out, they ONLY go to the range. Urm...I think we can all guess why they have no permissions. Maybe begging at the range will still get you zero permissions. By all means make friends and enjoy the occasional invite to a permission, but if you want a permission, you have to go to where the land owners are.
Figure out what they want!
Did this ever come to mind? Whether chasing women or permissions, are you what they want? It doesn't matter what you want, does it? Everyone complains that they cannot find the perfect woman. Quick question, if you found the perfect woman, would you be what she wants? Same with a permission! If you find a kick ass field, and you meet the owner, if you then turn around and say "I want to shoot rabbits, and pigeons, and squirrels, and crows, and......" They're just going to think "What a cock! He has no interest in my farm, no interest in what I get out of it, no interest in anything but what's in it for him.....he can fu..[you guessed the rest]"
Why not ask them a few questions, nothing too invasive, and then work your 'give me your signature here' pitch around what they want. Farmers like to have their crops and stock safe. They want zero effort, they like to know what's going on around their farm, and they like it for free. So find out how you can help them, instead of saying what YOU WANT, ask them how you can help them with pest control.
If you're at a farmer's market, ask about the produce. "Are these chicken or duck eggs?" "Oh cool, I used to have a few chickens in the garden when I was growing up. We used to have a problem with rats. Do you have a lot of chickens?"
This is the most critical part of ANY sale. Whether in a club explaining to a girl why you're awesome, or to a farmer trying to get them to give you a permission.
Firstly you need to be able to fulfil their wants, e.g. take out rabbits. But you also need to be able to prove to them that you're the kind of person they can work with. You need to explain why you can give them more than just filling their needs they spoke about. I like to say about how I look out for their needs, e.g. trespassers, signs of foxes, animals in labour, I even pick up chicken eggs that I come across and put them into a basket. That kind of thing they like. One of the main things they want me to let them know, what times the chickens are let out, and any signs of foxes or badgers.
So you're a man with a gun, like they care. So you're a man with a gun that allows them to have an hour or 2 in bed not needing to worry if staff are doing their jobs....that will make them smile.
Offer them what they want!
Great, know you know what they want, whether a woman or a farmer, or a farmer-woman, you now know what they want, so offer it to them. "I'm actually doing a bit of pest control, well trying to get into it at the moment. If you have any issues, whether it's rats, rabbits, or anything like that, I'd love to help out..."
I have been shooting for X number of years now and am starting pest control. I'm a local boy and would really like to help you with any rabbits, rats, (offer to help with the pest problem they mentioned when you were doing rule 2). Thanks to Rule 3, you're not more than a man with a gun, you're an asset to the farmer.
The offer of a couple of rabbits for the pot can't go amiss.
Provide them with peace of mind.
You are a failsafe option. There is no downside to you shooting on their land. Zero cost, maximum benefit. But that's what you've already explained right?
This is where 'buyers remorse' can kick in. You know when you buy something and you regret buying it? That's what the farmer will be like. He will have said yes, then be at home regretting it later that night.
What you need to do is provide them with enough evidence and logic as to the benefit you're going to provide them. People buy on emotion, then keep on logic.
What peace of mind can you give them? Let them show you around, if they want to. Ask them where you're most needed. Ask what times and days work best for them. Exchange phone numbers so you can be called if they really need a hand with pests. Make yourself available to them on certain days, e.g. I'm definitely available at least once a fortnight, etc.
Tell them about your insurance, BSAC membership, your ability to keep quiet, and the alike. They will need to be able to justify them taking you on, on any given day.
Get the slips signed!
Possibly the hardest part is getting the actual permission slip signed. I've had people take over a month to get it signed. In the end, I've had to simply go round with the paperwork filled out and said "I have heard the police are cracking down on air rifle use in fields. So incase anyone reports me, because they're trespassing, or anything like that, I need a quick autograph here and here. The last thing either of us want is police trotting around. It just protects us both that way." On the spot, signed and sealed.
There are some really good permission slips on the forum. So you'd do well to print off many copies of them.
Work with them.
If a farmer says no shotguns, but yes to moderators on any calibre up to .223, then work with them on that basis. If you came to a chicken farm and fired a shotgun, you'll scare the chickens and they'll stop laying. This will likely cause the farmer to do you some serious physical damage...and probably get you arrested for acting outside of the agreed limits.
The farmer will want you do to certain things, e.g. take out rabbits, control rat population, that kind of thing. So do that. If they're cool with you taking out the odd pigeon or something, that's awesome, stick within the rules of the General License, but remember why you're there. You do need to provide the benefit to the farmer that you said you would. A few weeks back I saw sat all hidden in my textured tree suit style gear waiting for a couple of rooks to land (they had been pecking out the necks of chickens and killing around 4 or 5 a day) and a van pulled up and 2 guys just walked out. I didn't have a clue who they were, so I called the farmer and double checked. He popped down with his brother. Turns out they were not meant to be there and were just there to dump some gear. Well, they ended up picking up a load of gear that had previously been left on site. Think of reverse fly tipping, they turn up and then spend the next hour picking up gear off the floor and taking it away with them. Free bottle of wine for the misses? It's always worth doing your best and checking things out with the farmer.
Find out what the farmer wants you to do with the animals you take out. They might want you to just leave them where they are, I have a few rat permissions that say this because they don't want me to risk any diseases I might catch from the flees or anything like that. I just text them the next day and say where the bodies are. I have others that provide a litter grabber stick and a bucket to fill up. Some of them want the first 2 rabbits, then I get to keep anything left over after that. Find out what they want. Imagine if they wanted the rats collected, and you left them laying all over the place. Not cool.
NEVER take advantage.
Don't ever forget whose land you're on. Respect the person and their land. A farmer might not like you taking a pee in an area of the farm. He might prefer you used the toilets or just held it in. That stream you're peeing in, might be what he uses to water the cows! He might not like you building hides, or staying too late. He might not like you shooting too early. He might not like you bringing a friend along. There is so much that might annoy a farmer. First off, ask where is best for you to park, then once you have a spot to park at, stick to it. Even if it means walking all the way across the farm, do it. It's not worth risking losing the permission.
What about taking out other animals? If you're there to take out rats, what if you start taking out rabbits? For all you know, the farmer might take their kids out to watch the rabbits at night. ASK before you go for a new species.
NEVER take a pot shot at ANY animal! Whether it's vermin that you're allowed to shoot, or you're just a cock and want to shoot a cat or something. Firstly, DON'T shoot anything not on the General License! Secondly, cats and the alike are really helpful on farms. Just because you see glowing eyes on your night vision, it doesn't mean you can just shoot at it. I've seen a family of cats mid conveyor belt (called an egg belt where I was) that had managed to clear out most of the barn I was initially working on. Also, Tiddles, could well be the farmer's daughter's favourite kitten! Seriously, don't be an idiot. You might have a permission on a chicken farm, and have zero kills all day, but that doesn't mean you can pop a chicken for the fun of it. This kind of thing is entirely unjustified and if you're the kind of person to do that, you should have your air rifle taken off you and never be allowed to shoot again! Thirdly, if you just take a pop shot and wound the animal, the farmer is then going to have to deal with a dripping disease infested mess of an animal. It'll be bleeding all over the animal feed, all through the farm, over conveyor belts, and the alike. Not only is it minging, but it's also giving the farmer a hell of a lot of work to do. To find the animal, maybe even dispatch it, and to clean up all the mess, as well as potentially bring in the vet to deal with any infection your careless shooting had spread. You're there to do a job for the farmer. Yes you're meant to enjoy it, but don't let the 'entertainment factor' override your brain. Save your shots for what you're there for.
Those are the basic rules of getting a permission.
But rules are just the outline. There is so much more to it. Let me explain.
You may not have a local farmers market. The local farmer might be out and about and not at home. Then what? Get the permission slips written up, and do a leaflet drop. Knock on doors and put your name out there. People might say no, but they are not rejecting you, they are only rejecting the offer. It just means you didn't sell the offer to them properly. The best thing to do with any rejection, tell them "Okay, that's fine. I'll pop back in 5 or 6 months time and see if I can help out then." That way they'll be expecting you and SHOULD be more accepting second time round. But remember, they don't care about you. So you have to make the offer appealing enough for them to take action.
One of the greatest ways to get a permission, word of mouth! I have had 3 more permissions, also chicken farms, just because of word of mouth from one of them. How did I get the recommendation? By doing my best at looking after the permission I had. If you get 1 permission, and you either neglect or abuse it, I can guarantee that you'll not only lose that permission, you'll also be hard pressed to get another one. Farmers speak to each other. If you do a great job, they MIGHT tell another farmer. But if you do a bad job, I can promise you that they'll tell MANY other farmers, and their hairdresser, and everyone with ears (whether they want to hear or not). In one fell swoop, you'll have not only screwed yourself, but every other shooter out there! Hang your head in shame and just stick to shooting paper.
Also a good way to get new permissions, just be a nice guy. You can do a reasonable job, and be a nice guy. This can get you recommendations. If a farmer recommends you, that's gold dust! Make the most of it. Justify his recommendation to both the one that recommended you, and the one you were recommended to. You'll have to work twice as hard, but the payout can be amazing!
Remember, go where you need to be, meet and greet, qualify, build value, close, give amazing after-care. That is the basic formula for selling, for picking up women, and for much of life!
As a quick recap using the above sequence.
Go where you need to be: If you want to speak to farmers, go find them where they are.
Meet and Greet: Say hi. They're a new person to you, but you're new to them too.
Qualify: Are you speaking to the right person? Ask questions, get to know stuff about them. Find out how you can help them.
Build Value: Prove your worth. Make the offer too good to refuse.
Close: Ask for permission to shoot, and get the paper signed.
Give Amazing After-Care: Work hard to keep the permission. The harder you work at it, the more they'll love you.
Do your job there well and work hard at keeping what you have.
Do this, and you'll get your permissions. It's near impossible to fail. Oh, and don't swear loads. Just because you're speaking to 'country folk' it doesn't mean they're common. Show respect at all times, and you'll go far. Also, be honest. If you're new to it all, they might want to take you out shooting. You'd be surprised.
Just keep at it and keep knocking those doors.
I hope this helps explain not only why permissions are so carefully guarded, but also how you too can take the first steps towards getting out and about and bringing home the bacon....well, rabbit.