Short but sweet
I found Diggory Hadoke’s article about shortbarrelled shotguns most interesting, especially as my first and favourite shotgun has 25" barrels.
It’s funny how things transpire to work out in directions you’d never imagine. I have a lovely, in my eyes at least, black Labrador bitch called Lady. We’ve had her since she was a pup of six months old when we inherited her from my daughter who died quite suddenly from a bad bout of pneumonia. Lady is now seven years old and has turned into a very nice steady dog, but as a pup she was a nightmare. As Lady was 100% working stock I started her on gundog training, more in desperation than anything else, as a way of keeping her occupied so she’d hopefully stop wrecking the house! I was out in a farmer’s field doing a spot of training with her one day and technically trespassing. I thought I was going to get a telling off when I spotted the farmer coming towards me in his Land Rover across the field. In fact, he asked if she was a good gundog and would I like to try her on his farm shoot. She was two at the time and the rest, as they say, is history. We went from beating to picking-up and for the last two seasons I have been a Gun on that shoot with Lady at my side as a peg dog.
I bought my first shotgun two years ago while I was waiting to see if I would be accepted on the shoot after a Gun dropped out through ill health. I bought the gun from a friend for £500. It’s a BSA Special Game model with 25" barrels and was manufactured, I believe, in the late 1930s, and I love it. It had been re-proofed in the late 1970s.
I spent another couple of hundred pounds on her, doing some essential refurbishment. The stock had some movement in it and there was a very minor dent in one of the barrels. Even though it’s got a right-hand stock and I’m left-handed, it fits like a glove and it’s quite natural to use. It’s very light at a few ounces over 6lbs, and perfect for walked-up shooting and for driven shooting, especially in woodland. I also have a new Browning over-and-under with 30" barrels that I use as a workhorse, and although it’s a lovely gun in its own right, it’s nowhere near as agile as the little BSA.
So yes, I’m with Diggory all the way on this. It’s difficult to beat the charm and elegance of a good old English gun, even if it’s got unfashionable short barrels.
David White, via email