Tuesday, December 22, 2015

England, Part 2. Random Observations.

     A week in England, essentially dedicated to the shooting sports, and countryside has been eye opening, and left me with a few random thoughts about guns and shooting I feel I must share. So let us just jump right in at the point which without a doubt registered the most sensory overload; the gun rooms. I visited two gun rooms while in London; the Beretta Gallery, and William Evans, both of which are located in the St. James area, and are in fact on St. James St.. Both gun rooms have a collection of really beautiful shotguns and rifles displayed museum style behind glass, but unlike a museum a sales person will gladly let you touch and handle the art. While I may never be able to afford a bespoke best gun, I was thrilled to be able to see such beauty up close. I highly recommend to anyone exploring London to take a bit of time to check out a gun room.

     In Britain the market for shotguns differs from here in the States, and nature of the shooting dictates some of the changes. Longer barrels, and a heavier gun facilitate a smoother, steadier swing, helpful when shooting driven bird. Unlike the long walks through unforgiving young forest I routinely take, which dictate a lighter, fast moving gun, driven bird shooting is much like a round of sporting clays; on station the gun is at the ready, between stations the gun is in a soft case slung over the shoulder. Another difference I noticed is that a lot of the guns seem to just be more ornate. Perhaps there is more of an appreciation for engraving in the UK. Take a look at the two different lines of guns produced by Browning, if you'd like to see for yourself. In the US, the 725 Grade 5, while a nice gun.....
doesn't carry the same quality of wood found on the B725 Sporter G5,

and is only marginally nicer than the B725 Hunter G5.
Then there is the Heritage model Browning's, like the B525 Heritage 20. You see what I mean? And these examples are just a few easily recognizable O/U's, you should see some of the doubles.

     There was a noteworthy ammo difference, too. First, I discovered that shot is sized differently. I was shooting an ounce of 6's, which is smaller than the 6's in the US, and comparable to our 7's (not 7 1/2's). There was also a great difference, at least in the shells I was shooting, in felt recoil. I was shooting 2 1/2", low brass shells, and they were sweet. Still travelling quickly, about 1100 fpm, these shells (Hull Cartridge Co.) were getting the job done. In addition to these shells being soft, they used a fiber wad, which is something I wish was more predominant here in the States. From a conservation stand point, plastic wads spread throughout the woodlands is tough to justify, and not really environmentally healthy. The sportsman here in the States who wishes to make the move to fiber wads can do so, but with a bit of an increase in ammo expense. RST Ltd, in Pennsylvania (http://www.rstshells.com/) makes not only fiber wad shells, but they are in a 2 1/2" hull, too. I will be exploring the possibility of shooting fiber wads next year. 

     Having now had the pleasure of shooting driven birds with a fantastic syndicate in England I can say that without a doubt true driven bird shooting can be had here in the US, but, it'll take a little outside the box thinking, and a bit of a change in the attitude of the guns. What will it take? Let's break it down.

     First, bag limits will prevent it from happening wholesale, but should a club, or a syndicate if you prefer, have sufficient property to shoot on, and gets said property licensed as a permitted shooting area, that no longer becomes a problem. That is pretty much the biggest problem facing the American shooter who wants to have home grown driven bird shooting. With the property licensing issue is behind you, iron where the drives will be on the property. One way that birds are held on the property is by raising them in an area on the property with plenty of food, water, and cover. You raise your birds in that area, and then ideally, after the birds start moving around, on shoot day you drive the birds deeper into the property, back towards the area they were raised. 

     An attitude change is needed too. Many are so accustomed to walking up birds, or hunting behind a dog, that it'll be hard to stay out of the area on non-shoot days, but it is essential that the birds aren't pushed around and out of the cover, or they won't be there on shoot day. Of course this is a very simplistic overview, but I think it sums up the basics. 

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