Char­lie Port­lock tells why SHEEP are the key to an ac­cu­rate shot

Air Gunner - - Contents -

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”

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