Farewell to a Shooting MAN of kent
Ben Gaskin, born in 1932 in Whitstable, has sadly passed away after having spent 66 years pursuing shooting sports. He started his shooting life in the Royal Navy (1952-1963) with rifle shooting and clearly had some enthusiasm for it. As the Chief Petty Officer (ERA 1) on HMS Vidal, he organised shooting competitions against the local enthusiasts in the West Indies, where the vessel was largely employed.
By 1963 he was married and his second born was on the way, so he left the navy and joined St Augustine’s Home Guard Rifle Club (National Small-bore Rifle Association) in Herne Bay, where he was a member until the end. This led to meeting like-minded sporting gents and joining the Thornden Wood shoot, a DIY shoot with more than 30 members shooting over 1,500 acres of mixed woodland. At this time the first of a continual line of Labradors — plus one errant Jack Russell — joined the family.
Thornden Wood changed status to a vermin shoot in the 1980s and led to the beginning of a series of pheasant and wildfowl syndicates around Canterbury and Dover. He took up stalking, principally in Dorset as a syndicate member as well as a roving Gun, taking roe and sika. He was happiest walking the forest lines with gun and dog, watching the wildlife and hoping for a chance.
As a result of stalking he joined two full-bore rifle clubs and regularly shot at Hythe Ranges for zeroing in or simply the joy of a 300-yard shot, something still achieved over open sites even last year. His last day out was at the range in February with his sons and a grandson.
He was always a member of BASC, as well as an avid reader of Shooting Times since the 1960s, and shooting was his mainstay for relaxation. A countryman at heart, he was never one for big bags nor chasing medals. He owned several guns but each for only one purpose. He could butcher, prepare and cook everything he shot — even squirrel that “found its way” into the rabbit casserole for a dinner party. His venison medallions were most excellent. m. Gaskin, by email
Ben Gaskin enjoyed shooting sports for 66 years Yxyxf choice: ian’s selection