Wildfowling

What sort of gun should the bud­ding fowler buy, and what ac­ces­sories does he need to make the most of his first out­ing?

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

For the newcomer to wildfowling the cost of a new gun is an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion. Al­ways buy the best you can af­ford. It might be worth con­sid­er­ing buy­ing a good make of sec­ond-hand gun rather than a new gun from a lesser man­u­fac­turer.

New steel shot proofed side-by-sides with the 3.5in cham­ber are avail­able but do you need a gun ca­pa­ble of fir­ing a 3.5in steel car­tridge? If you are likely to en­counter a lot of geese or high-fly­ing ducks it mer­its con­sid­er­a­tion. If geese are few and far be­tween and duck are likely to be shot over de­coys or at the shorter ranges of flight­ing, a 3in cham­bered gun might well suf­fice.

Steel am­mu­ni­tion in 3in is now very ef­fec­tive. In its Amer­i­can home­land the 3.5in car­tridge — once a bal­lis­tic ne­ces­sity when us­ing steel shot — is in­creas­ingly los­ing ground to the mod­ern 3in Magnum. Steel proofed, 3in or 3.5in cham­bered over-and-un­ders are read­ily avail­able.

Sim­plic­ity

The semi-au­to­matic is ar­guably the most pop­u­lar mod­ern fowl­ing gun in the UK. The pump ac­tion rep­re­sents great value for money, is al­most im­pos­si­ble to put out of ac­tion be­cause of its sim­plic­ity, han­dles well and is quite in­ex­pen­sive. Its main draw­back is the de­gree of user in­put re­quired for rapid op­er­a­tion. You need to “run it in” if new un­til the ac­tion is smooth and slick and you need to prac­tise with the pump­ing, then prac­tise some more. Once ac­quired you never lose the knack.

What­ever gun you choose, you must learn how to clean it prop­erly — the salt at­mos­phere will play havoc with the met­al­work, es­pe­cially the bits in­side it such as the mag­a­zine tube and stock spring. You must also learn how to re­move the bar­rel, the trig­ger group and the bolt and how to ac­cess the mag­a­zine and stock springs.

It is well worth spend­ing some time with your fowl­ing piece and the non-toxic shot of your choice at the range. Steel shot has dif­fer­ent bal­lis­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics to lead and learn­ing a new set of sight pic­tures for any given shot ma­te­rial is best done with inan­i­mate clays rather than live fowl.

Gun safety on the fore­shore dif­fers from gun safety any­where else. One of the great­est dan­gers is that of ob­struct­ing your bar­rels. Be­come ob­sessed with check­ing down the bar­rel for a block­age. I carry a small pen­light on my key ring that I shine down the bar­rel via the open breech. I also carry three 12in lengths of 15mm wooden dowling. It costs al­most noth­ing, has no com­plex screws or joints and it floats if you drop it.

Fit­ting a sling to your marsh gun is a good idea. It leaves your hands free and saves one from put­ting a camo gun down on the thick and tan­gled marsh veg­e­ta­tion, and then not be­ing able to find it.

I use a boat for much of my fowl­ing ac­cess so a float­ing gun­slip is good in­sur­ance. Its heavy flota­tion pad­ding helps pro­tect the gun from knocks, its lin­ing does not ab­sorb wa­ter like a fleece-lined gun­slip might and, ideally, it has a flap top se­cured with a heavy Vel­cro scrap. Zip-up gun­slips used on the fore­shore will even­tu­ally grind to a stand­still with mud and rust, no mat­ter how much you try to look af­ter them.

I once saw a gun­ner whose semi-auto bolt was jammed with grit. No amount of wip­ing would in­duce it to op­er­ate for more than one shot. He solved the prob­lem by Test your knowl­edge on wildfowling guns with our mini quiz.

Name the 19th-cen­tury Birm­ing­ham gun­maker fa­mous for big-bore wildfowling guns.

What is the max­i­mum num­ber of car­tridges that can be used in a shot­gun to shoot wild­fowl in the UK?

Who in­vented the first suc­cess­ful semi-auto shot­gun?

In what year did Eley pioneer the first plas­tic shot­gun car­tridge case?

“A sling saves you hav­ing to put down a camo gun in tan­gled marsh veg­e­ta­tion”

What coin can you use to al­ter your choke tube? us­ing a high-pres­sure jet of wa­ter. Where he found that miles out on the salt­marsh I’ll leave to your imag­i­na­tion.

This is the fifth in a fort­nightly series that will tell you every­thing you need to know to be­come a wild­fowler. The next in­stal­ment will be in the 20 June is­sue.

What type of gun you choose will de­pend on what you are shoot­ing, but buy the best you can af­ford

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