PUBLISHED: 15:22 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:06 28 November 2012
Game shooting articles
Well, the glorious twelfth is the glorious thirteenth this year; the traditional opening of the season falling on a Sunday.
For the first time in my 40 years on the planet I am actually going to try to shoot one or two of the little red missiles. I have to confess that to date I have never yet seen one fly, let alone sent a shot string in its wake. My excuses are, I think, reasonable. I have never been rich enough to buy grouse shooting, popular enough to be invited nor lived far enough north to run into one by chance. This year my popularity has risen it seems!
By kind invitation of avid sportsman, property developer and all-round good chap, Paddy Byrne, I’m off to walk the heather and shoot the grouse. Well’ that is the plan at least! I’m not entirely convinced that the Irish sense of humour and devilment on the part of Mr Byrne is not partly responsible for the invitation. The thought of city-based desk-jocky pulling on the boots for the first time in six months and puffing his way up a purple hill sweating, falling over and turning the colour of the vegetation must be potential for a good bit of amusement.
Anyway, I’m determined not to let the side down and have prepared myself by…. thinking about what kind of hat to wear. Well, I considered early morning runs or brisk walks around the block but never quite got around to either. I have been reading-up on the walked-up grouse though; Charles Lancaster’s classic tome ‘The Art of Shooting’ may be old but it has some great drawings of how to adjust your point of aim for grouse flying down hill or skimming away low and fast. We’ll soon see if all the reading turns into good, disciplined shooting with a semblance of style.
I will certainly be in good company if I need to look for inspiration. Paddy is a very experienced shot and shoots as much in reality as I do in my dreams. Also in the party is Peter Jones, who seems to be able to shoot anything effortlessly and then we have Mike Yardley, who will doubtless be showing off by dropping rights and lefts with a 28-bore at regular intervals.
My choice of gun is causing me some concern; well concern may not be the right word because I always like to experiment and try something new. My ‘fail-safe’ hammer gun is not an option: I decided J. Thompson deserved to have his barrels browned before the pheasant season and he is away being treated to a minor makeover. Part of the reason I shoot well with him is the chokes: three points of choke left and seven points of choke right: very open by modern standards but as a game-getter it is right on the money.
I just picked up a J. Lang sidelock with open chokes in both barrels and weighing a nice 6lb 9oz, so I may give that an airing. However, I have neglected the old Purdey lately and she really deserves an outing. My only worry is falling over with my most valuable gun and breaking the stock. Still, these things were made to be used. A decision has to be made.
I’ll be sticking to 28g of No.6 because I still believe that it is adequate for almost all the shooting we encounter inland and fibre wads because I feel better by not leaving litter behind.
I’m starting to get that feeling of anticipation and trepidation that must be common to a good many at this time of year; if you are joining me on the moors this August, may your season start with a ‘bang’ or preferably a lot of ‘bangs’. For the rest of you; the partridges won’t be far behind.