A relative of mine used to carry a gun all the year round. I suppose I inherited the habit. There have been times when I have not felt properly turned out unless I had a gun under my arm. The fact is there is always something to shoot. And so long as a man does not mind the weight, it is a good plan to have a gun as a constant companion — assuming he is on his own ground or where he has the right to shoot.
At this time of year I used to carry a heavily choked gun for long shots at vermin. At the time, pigeons were not universally classed as pests. For all that, there were places where they had to be discouraged and it was never easy to approach them. Crows and other vermin too usually kept a good gunshot away.
A choke bore was certainly more justified than it is in ordinary game shooting. But another advantage was that by the constant use of a gun you kept yourself in training for the more important kind of shooting later on. For it is only by continual aiming and gun handling that you can maintain your mastery of the art.
It is all very well to think that because you can shoot with reasonable efficiency, you cannot do better. To maintain a really high average, year by year, where big figures are involved, is admittedly a tremendous undertaking. But, for all that, it is within our reach — if we train for it and keep in training. Of course, it is often a surprise to find how well we shoot after a prolonged absence from the field. But fate is sometimes kind and lets us down gently.
“It gave me a nice shot.” It is common enough to hear such a remark. Just what does that mean? Does it mean that the bird obliged by making itself an easy target? Or does it mean that it presented itself in such a way that it exacted a worthy measure of skill from its opponent in the shooting?
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
A bit of hide and sleek
Do we pay enough attention to our sense of touch? It is as vital in pigeon shooting as camo clothing and elaborate hides, believes Gough Thomas
Coming home to roost
When a fox finds its way into a chicken pen with the inevitable result, a plan is hatched to exact revenge and protect the survivors
Keeping it scruffy
Cutting back on mowing and adopting a ‘rough around the edges’ approach would be a major boost for wildlife
A great way to beef up a shoot
The sustainable future of our sport depends on rebuilding the old connections between farming and fieldsports, says Patrick Laurie
What you cannot learn on the peg
Many of the best Shots started young and had a rural upbringing, but there are other ways to become a good all-rounder, says Tom Payne
The day of the jackal — and pine marten
As long-absent predators return to our countryside, we can learn from how other nations deal with the conflicts that arise, says Matt Cross
A jewel, complete with a crown
A ‘malform’ spotted in the trail camera would make a perfect specimen to fill a hamper for Will Pocklington
Cold comfort on game crop
Bad weather is a major headache at this time of year, but all is not lost, advises Liam Bell
Standing the test of time
The vast array of fieldsports offers something for all ages, as sporting preferences evolve with advancing years, Barry Stoffell discovers
With Guns in the pink
Britain’s colonial territories opened up a host of opportunities for the sportsman; Diggory Hadoke looks back at the days of the Empire
Black magic for May
For Neil Cross, mid May is the time to engage with the branchers at a Suffolk rookery, while Serena Cross is busting clays on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers
Geoff Garrod says checking and repairing equipment reaps rewards over the season and urges people to make their general licence case in the Defra survey.