Thursday, 4 June 2009

Airgunner Tempted by Shotgun

I recently spent a day with a shooting party made up of a mix of shotgunners and airgunners and was surprised - as an airgun-only shooter - just how many of them regularly used both types of gun. And after handling some really luxurious shotgun kit, I'm beginning to think a 12-bore is a perfect complement to an airgunner's gun cabinet!

Owning a quality airgun is as important to me as shooting it - and I've got some really beautiful custom specials in my gun room. I'm also a bit of a horologist - I love the intricacies of watches... so when I recently spent some time with the Webley & Scott commemorative '220' sidelock (celebrating the famous gunmaker's 220-year heritage), I found myself getting the urge to 'go cartridge'!

Now, I'm not saying that I'm going to convert from airguns... but I've already applied for a shotgun certificate. And my first shotgun - as was the case with my first 'adult' airgun - will most probably be a Webley. After all, I've got such a lovely collection of their vintage air rifles and pistols, it would be silly not to keep a theme going.

As my blog was born out of a request from the editor of Sporting Shooter magazine, I'm sure airgunners won't mind me showing a couple of images of the sidelock version of Webley's beautiful 220 model (in 28-inch 20g side-by-side format) for the benefit of shotgunning readers of my blog. For a watch collector who's into quality airgun kit and a big fan of the early Webley years, it's most definitely hardware to get quite moist over!
If there are any airgunners out there who also shoot shotguns (or vice versa), I'd appreciate any pointers. I've only really busted a few clays at corporate events - on which I've recorded a 65-70% hit-rate - but I've never done any rough shooting. Is it easier or harder than hunting with an airgun?

Squirrel Orders - by Royal Decree!

Prince Charles 'declared war on Britain's three-million strong grey squirrel population yesterday', according to an article in today's Daily Mail newspaper, who saw fit to give it a whole page's worth of coverage. Well, I've been saying that for years - and I know plenty of other airgunners who concur with the Prince's views!

Of course, there's the usual 'but they're cute and nice' claims from the RSPCA and bushy-tail lovers - but I'm pleased to say that, for once, the journalism was pretty unbiased. It laid out the case extremely well, citing the ever-increasing numbers of this pest as being a major reason for the extinction of our native red squirrel.

Tree-rats - as we airgunners prefer to call them - do untold damage in the wild, raiding songbirds' nests (for eggs and chicks) and killing young saplings. They strip the bark to wear away their ever-growing molars and to line their own nests with.

But the Mail also pointed out that the grey squirrel - which is not an indigenous critter to these shores, having been introduced from the Americas in the late Nineteenth Century) - causes untold havoc in the city. There are reports of them eating through lofts, cables... you name it, they've ruined it.

So, with HRH's full backing, I'll be taking a lightweight carbine - either the Prestige Kub or Brocock Concept - into the woods this weekend for a spot of grey-bashing... and I suspect there will be plenty of other airgunners straining to train their sights through the summer foliage to pick out the flick of a grey-brown tail, too.

Unless you shoot in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire or Bedfordshire that is. Apparently, you've got a strain of aggressive 'black' squirrels to contend with. (Better use a scope with an IR reticle then!)

So as long as it's not red, the squirrel is now officially Britain's no. 1 pest species - and you've been ordered by none other than the future King of England to exterminate them!