Old faith­ful by my side

The Side by Side Na­tion­als, held at Be­nalla Field & Game this year, is more than a tar­get shoot­ing com­pe­ti­tion; it is a chance to take a long stroll with an old and faith­ful com­pan­ion.

Field and Game - - SIDE-BY-SIDE NATIONALS -

Len Box has brought a 1912 Charles Boswell live bird gun for com­pany as he walks to the first stand. He saw the gun ad­ver­tised 16 years ago by Mcdon­ald’s Firearms in Footscray and de­cided it was the side-by-side shot­gun he needed in his gun collection. “I wanted a good side-by-side, it was in pretty good con­di­tion, and Boswell has a good name,” he said. “I’ve bro­ken fir­ing springs both sides and had them re­placed so it prob­a­bly owes me more than I could ev­ery get for it; it will stay in the fam­ily and be passed to the next gen­er­a­tion.” The Boswell has 30” bar­rels, a ta­per­ing top rib filed for re­flec­tion, a small forend, dou­ble trig­ger and the original Silver & Co. pad on it, which is just a hard rub­ber pad that Len has de­cided not to re­place. “Orig­i­nally it was a be­spoke gun made for the per­son who or­dered it, who I dare say was a live bird shooter,” he said. “I haven’t done much with it apart from

shoot side-by-side events and there are not too many of them any­more. It is a nov­elty but it is an­other as­pect of the sport that I like. “It has a nice bit of wood and the Purdey scroll on it, over­all it is a nice gun and very well bal­anced, very nice to shoot. It isn’t a very heavy gun and I don’t put heavy car­tridges through it, it is more than 100 years old, so I don’t want to wreck it.

“It is a very un­usual shot­gun for its day be­cause it has 3” cham­bers and most of the English shot­guns had 2–1/2” cham­bers, a 1250 or 1300 car­tridge seems fine through it.”

Martin Holmes is us­ing a mate’s gun at the Na­tion­als be­cause his new pride and joy, a 1954 Charles Hel­lis & Sons side lock ejec­tor pigeon gun with two sets of bar­rels hasn’t been fit­ted yet.

“It is a 2 3/4” nitro proof gun, just a lovely lit­tle gun of the more mod­ern era but I don’t know too much about its history, the ini­tials on the original case are W.A.F.

“It is a good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the era and very well made, just not as ex­pen­sive as the Purdey or Hol­land & Hol­land.” The mates gun is a1 920s G.S. Hol­loway. “It has a very short stock on it so a cou­ple of ex­ten­ders are there to com­pen­sate for the very small English­man who orig­i­nally owned it; he was prob­a­bly 5 ft tall not 6 ft.”

Martin missed the shoot off at the 2016 Side by Side Na­tion­als by one tar­get but he said he com­petes for the pure en­joy­ment of fir­ing his old gems. “We all shoot be­cause we en­joy it, any suc­cess is just a bonus, that’s Field & Game.”

While the plan is to shoot the Charles Hel­lis & Sons shot­gun next year there’s no guar­an­tee it will still be the lat­est ad­di­tion to the collection.

“I’m a bit of a col­lec­tor, I go to the auc­tions, and if I see some­thing, I can’t resist,” Martin said with a chuckle.

Len Box's 1912 Charles Boswell

1954 Charles Hel­lis & Sons side lock ejec­tor pigeon gun

Martin Holmes

A mod­ern clas­sic

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