Charlie Portlock tells why SHEEP are the key to an accurate shot
Charlie Portlock reveals how SHEEP can improve accuracy
Last month, I finished a spate of summer weddings with a long weekend at a friend’s family home. As the Sunday morning drifted gently into the long afternoon, the table-talk turned to squirrels and spring rifles; two topics sadly absent from the speeches. My friend’s stepfather, Peter, had some trouble with squirrels eating cables in his attic and, more or less, anything in the garden, so 15 years ago he walked into his local air rifle shop and asked for the ‘the most powerful rifle you have’. I’m sure that this is fairly common practice among uninitiated suburban homeowners, but it presents as many problems for the new airgunner as it does for the squirrel.
The rifle in question was an attractive Webley Exocet in .22, fitted with a Hawke, variable power, 40mm scope. There were two boxes of ammunition; one of pointed and one of plastic-coated pellets that looked like they wouldn’t hit a barn door at five paces, let alone the brain of a squirrel at 20 yards. I tactfully asked the usual questions about zero range, elevation, shooting ranges, shot placement and preferred kill zone. Peter wasn’t sure what a ‘zero range’ was, but he was regularly missing his target and he was concerned that the scope might be ‘a bit off’. He did the majority of his shooting unsupported from the kitchen or bedroom window, at less than 20 yards, using the frangible, plastic pellets for head or body shots, and he was keen to improve his accuracy.
I won’t digress into how I navigated the delicate path between deference to a successful, elder host and a genuine desire to help Peter to dispatch more of his quarry humanely, but we did have a good afternoon’s shooting in the garden that addressed many of the points above - loose trigger guard screws, zeroing, hold, domed pellets and head shots only.
Peter’s approach to his squirrel problem is a classic example of zeal outstripping information. However, we all have something to learn and some of the most enjoyable parts of airgunning lie in the sharing of knowledge, spirited debate and in the ever-evolving challenge of shooting
“Peter’s approach to his squirrel problem is a classic example of zeal outstripping information”