MICK GAR­VEY

... in teach­ing mode

Airgun World - - Contents -

“I spent the next 60 min­utes ex­plain­ing the dos and don’ts of air­gun shoot­ing”

Ihave to say, the last few weeks have been in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing be­cause of the ter­ri­ble weather we have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. I have spo­ken to a few shoot­ers, in­clud­ing our very own Phil Hard­man, and the per­sis­tent rain has de­layed the har­vest and sub­se­quent de­coy­ing over the stub­ble fields for just about all of us. My fields in par­tic­u­lar haven’t come close to be­ing cut and although it will hap­pen it is still dis­heart­en­ing, es­pe­cially when you see hoards of wood­pi­geons sit­ting statue-like on tele­phone lines, and tree lines, as if gath­er­ing for the feast, but I’m hop­ing that soon the crops will be cut and we’ll all have bumper bags off the stub­ble.

An old friend and ex-neigh­bour, Mark, wants to get into air­gun­ning with his young son, so he con­tacted me and asked if I could help him with in­tro­duc­ing El­liott to the world of air­gun hunt­ing, and gen­eral out­doors­man ac­tiv­i­ties. I told him that this would not be a prob­lem. I ac­tu­ally rel­ished the op­por­tu­nity to bring new blood to our sport, and as it hap­pened, they were not the only two.

BUD­GET

Work­ing to a bud­get when find­ing a good multi-shot PCP set-up was go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, and the top-of-the-range guns, such as the FX Wild­cat and Im­pact, were out of the ques­tion, although once the air­gun fever sets in I wouldn’t rule them out for the fu­ture.

We de­cided on the Artemis P15, the lat­est of­fer­ing from SMK. It has seen some great re­views re­cently on the beloved Face­book, and for the price who can ar­gue? The set-up was com­pleted with a Leapers scope, and fi­nally a dive bot­tle from SDS in Sh­effield who must be work­ing at a loss when you look at the price of their com­plete kits.

A farmer, who I shoot for, also con­tacted me with the same re­quest for his wife, who wanted to turn her at­ten­tion to the rat pop­u­la­tion that had taken res­i­dence in the chicken coops, so I rec­om­mended the same dive bot­tle, along with a Pho­ton XT from Scott Coun­try In­ter­na­tional, and once set up, I handed an­other P15 to the sec­ond pair of happy cus­tomers. I will be keep­ing you in­formed on how the rat­ting goes be­cause I will be join­ing them on a few ses­sions very soon.

IM­PRES­SIVE

Mark, El­liott and I had ze­roed the new set-up at the lo­cal SDS range the day be­fore our planned out­ing, and they were re­ally im­pressed; £1 coin-sized groups at 23 yards is good for first-time shoot­ers, and they went home ex­cited about the fol­low­ing day.

When I got back, my neigh­bour popped her head over the fence and told me that her two grand­sons had been watch­ing from the bed­room win­dow when I’d been set­ting up the Pho­ton, and Con­nor – the el­dest – just kept say­ing over and over, “I wish … I wish …”

“Send them round.” I told her, and be­fore I had even set up the tar­get, the door­bell was ring­ing.

Con­nor, along with his younger brother, Cal­lum, stood there all wide-eyed and ex­cited. I was im­pressed with their en­thu­si­asm and led them to the back gar­den where I spent the next 60 min­utes ex­plain­ing the dos and don’ts of air­gun shoot­ing. They lis­tened in­tently and I

knew that they’d taken ev­ery­thing in, as had Mark and El­liott ear­lier. The next hour saw them rat­tling off a few mags through the sub-12 .177 Im­pact, with some pretty im­pres­sive re­sults, and this re­minded me of how good the Im­pact was com­pared to the new kid on the block, the P15, and how it was go­ing to take some­thing very spe­cial to re­place it. To be hon­est, I don’t see any­thing on the hori­zon.

FOR­MAL­ITY

I took the op­por­tu­nity to visit my woods that af­ter­noon, and fill a few feed­ers in the hope of lur­ing in a squir­rel or two. Now, I have said be­fore that rab­bits are at a pre­mium on my per­mis­sion, but they have been mak­ing a bit of a wel­come come­back re­cently, and as I crested a slight rise, I spot­ted two hares with what I thought was a young hare, a lev­eret, but no – it was a de­cent-sized rab­bit and sit­ting per­fectly side­ways on at 40 yards. I had the .177 Im­pact, and once I had loaded the mag­a­zine it was a for­mal­ity for the 8.4 grain Air Arms pel­let, and with the slight­est of kicks, a beauty of a rab­bit was down. Within five min­utes I had an­other in the Sidewinder’s crosshairs, and the Im­pact didn’t dis­ap­point, mak­ing it two from two in five, and a happy hunter. I filled the feed­ers, and with no sign of any grey men­aces I headed home to prep the rab­bits.

HEAVY FO­LIAGE

Sun­day saw me up at silly o’clock and with the Hilux loaded I set off to pick up my two guests. I had al­ready made the landown­ers aware that I wouldn’t be alone; they are very par­tic­u­lar about who shoots on the land be­cause there have been few peo­ple shoot­ing hares, which is a big no-no here and rightly so, in my book, they’re mag­nif­i­cent an­i­mals that cre­ate lit­tle dam­age to this land.

Af­ter run­ning though the bound­ary lines and safe back­drops with my pupils, I led them through the wood­land to my new hide over­look­ing my favourite feeder area. I sat with the guys for a few min­utes and ex­plained where to ex­pect the squir­rels to ap­pear. Mark re­ally wanted to bag a rab­bit and El­liott was just happy to be out with his fa­ther and me, and maybe get the chance for a shot or two at some ver­min. El­liott was ea­ger to tell me that he was a black belt in karate and his mum was one of the in­struc­tors at his club; this was quite in­ter­est­ing be­cause I used to do a bit my­self back in the day, but that was a while ago and not to be re­vis­ited any time soon – if at all. I left the duo to it, happy in the knowl­edge that they were 100% safe, and trekked be­tween two other feed ar­eas at both ex­tremes of the wood, hop­ing to pick off a tree rat or two.

I was to be dis­ap­pointed be­cause noth­ing showed it­self. The trees were full of pi­geons, but with the heavy fo­liage it was vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to spot them un­less you saw one come in. I did man­age to drop a jay that had been call­ing for a while and landed on my feeder once it thought the coast was clear – you have to be very spar­ing with move­ment when wait­ing on jays be­cause they are alert at all times.

UN­SUS­PECT­ING

I was on my way to the next area when I heard a shot from the hide, but I could tell that it was a miss. As I ap­proached the hide as stealth­ily as pos­si­ble, I could see that Mark still had the scope to his eye, which I took as him still hav­ing the tar­get in his sight. He briefly looked side­ways to me, nod­ded, and I re­turned the ges­ture and checked the area in front of him. I could just make out a grey sit­ting on the trunk of a fallen tree and then I heard the shot and wit­nessed the tree rat fall stone dead to the ground.

They were both ea­ger to check out the kill, but I had to hold them back un­til I could guar­an­tee it was in­deed dead. Too many times, I’ve seen an as­sumed life­less squir­rel take a bite at an un­sus­pect­ing hunter,

re­sult­ing in vi­cious dam­age to one of their pinkies. Once death had been con­firmed, they couldn’t wait for a few pic­tures and it was whilst we were do­ing this that a pi­geon landed plainly in view around 20 yards away in a hazel tree. As qui­etly as pos­si­ble, we set up El­liott with a straight­for­ward shot be­tween the shoul­der blades, and the pi­geon never knew what hit it, ob­vi­ously pre­oc­cu­pied with the newly sprouted hazel nuts scat­tered on the floor be­low. It now oc­curred to me why the squir­rels hadn’t shown in num­bers – they had been feed­ing on the hazels and pre­ferred these to my bait. Maybe, I’ll in­crease the amount of peanuts in the mix to get them com­ing, this might be a while, though, be­cause the har­vest shoot­ing will keep me oc­cu­pied soon, I hope.

HICCOUGH

Mark was beam­ing with his first kill and ex­plained that the rea­son he had missed the first shot was that El­liott had hic­coughed, so the grey had bolted from right to left and then stopped to check out the noise. It sounded like a typ­i­cal F1 driver’s ex­cuse to me, but at least he hadn’t wounded it – a miss is bet­ter than wound­ing, any day. Once his squir­rel had been stashed in his bag to show to his wife and daugh­ter, we set off happy with the cou­ple of hours spent in the woods. The com­pany had been great, and I felt like I was help­ing a young lad to grow to­wards be­com­ing a hunter. We crested the same rise as I had the day be­fore and I spot­ted a cou­ple of ears pok­ing above the long grass. “Rab­bit,” I called, and pointed it out. We had the P15 sin­gle-loaded and the cross hairs on our quarry in dou­ble-quick time. The 16 grain Air Arms Di­ablo that I had also rec­om­mended hit home, and Mark’s dream came true. He had got his rab­bit and I had in­tro­duced six peo­ple to our sport ... doesn’t get much bet­ter than that! I

My two pro­tégées for the day.

A bit of time on the range will pay div­i­dends.

The nat­u­ral hazel nuts are hard to beat.

El­liott cer­tainly looked the part.

Kung fu ninja.

It’s not all about the shoot­ing, there’s prep­ping too. If you shoot it you have to be pre­pared to prep it.

Two for the sub-12 Im­pact/Sidewinder in .177.

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