The Clay Menace

Jamie Chan­dler wins a new per­mis­sion, the hard way

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Jamie Chan­dler takes ad­vice from a for­tune cookie and gains a new per­mis­sion

AChi­nese for­tune cookie once told me, ‘ If you only look to the front, you miss more than you see’. Whether you be­lieve in Chi­nese proverbs cov­ered in a crispy baked shell or not, when it comes to air­gun­ning, I think the wise words of mass-man­u­fac­tured good­ness spoke the truth. Apart from the ob­vi­ous ben­e­fit to look­ing around when out hunt­ing, we have all spent time and pa­tience tread­ing the well-weath­ered path up farm driveways, through golf club en­trances and into sta­ble of­fices look­ing for shoot­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and leav­ing re­jected. It turns out there are other ways, and those yummy, bis­cuit- cov­ered words can work here as well.

Along with air­guns, I also love my shot­gun and run an in­ter-pub clay shoot that at­tracts about 40 guns. We’ve shot at var­i­ous grounds, but re­ally love the chilled at­mos­phere, amaz­ing views and con­tin­u­ally chang­ing trap chal­lenges of exEng­land shooter and fan­tas­tic host, Des Sturgess’ Acorn Shoot­ing School. Des also runs a fa­mous driven shoot on the es­tate, that pro­duces 250 - 350 bird days for those with deep pock­ets, and over the last few months I have also hounded him for tips on how I can im­prove my own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of shoot­ing.

Op­por­tu­nity knocks

Dur­ing a dis­cus­sion on our sec­ond visit in June, Des had to dis­ap­pear to change a trap cable. When he re­turned, he grum­bled to an em­ployee that, ‘ the rab­bits have chewed through an­other cable.’ In­stead of go­ing in straight away with, ‘ I can help’, I de­cided to let mu­tual trust build fur­ther - pa­tience can be prove re­ward­ing.

Mean­while, at the CLA in July I met Ed­ward King from ASI, im­porter of FX Air­guns, and through a dis­cus­sion of my pas­sion for an­other of their brands, AYA shot­guns, thought I would ask if I could have a try of an FX ri­fle. Keen to en­sure that I got the best op­tion, even with my miss­ing fin­gers and left-hand­ed­ness, Ed­ward of­fered the FX Cy­clone with tac­ti­cal stock in .22.

This seemed the per­fect time to

“The rab­bits where clearly run­ning a fair dis­tance to chomp through Des’s ca­bles”

ap­proach Des about his wire-lov­ing rab­bits. Af­ter an ini­tial wari­ness based on an air­gun­ner Des had let on once, who turned out to be more in­ter­ested in run­ning dogs (my thanks to you for mak­ing it harder for the rest of us), Des gave me the green light, based on my vis­its with the clay shoot, and the fact that I knew some of the guys who worked on the 2000-plus acre es­tate for which Des has the shoot­ing rights. With Des show­ing me around and fol­low­ing the rab­bit runs, we no­ticed that they went from the clay ground into a hedge on the neigh­bour­ing sta­bles on one side, and some wa­ter mead­ows on an­other. The rab­bits where clearly run­ning a fair dis­tance to chomp through Des’s ca­bles, but nei­ther he nor I could find any bur­rows bor­der­ing the clay ground it­self. With sec­ondary per­mis­sion agreed with the sta­bles, and Des plac­ing bound­aries on a ‘one time trial’ ba­sis, the hunt day was set!

New me­tal

I’d ze­roed the Cy­clone at my reg­u­lar per­mis­sion, and al­though never hav­ing been a fan of tac­ti­cal stocks, I re­ally liked it. The ri­fle was solid yet light and well bal­anced, scream­ing qual­ity. It shoul­dered bril­liantly and of­fered over 120 reg­u­lated shots in .22. The mag­a­zine of­fered eight shots, which in hunt­ing terms is plenty, al­though when plink­ing I had to re­mem­ber to count only eight. The clos­est com­par­i­son I could draw on was my Air Arms S410; the trig­ger, bal­ance and build were of sim­i­lar ex­cel­lent feel but the Cy­clone had two ex­tra bonuses. The Biathlon cock­ing lever was first. I’ve never been a fan of side levers, but this wasn’t one, it was dif­fer­ent. The bolt was fast, quiet, and easy for even my short­ened hand to load and have a po­ten­tial sec­ond shot away, which due to the sec­ond bonus, it was. The sec­ond bonus was when I put the mod­er­a­tor from my BSA R10 on it. The Cy­clone was breath­tak­ingly quiet and matched with AA Field 5.52s, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary smooth-twist bar­rel was ex­traor­di­nar­ily ac­cu­rate, and favourably com­pa­ra­ble to other top-end ri­fles I’ve used, just much qui­eter.

As I turned up to start the trial hunt, I thought the wa­ter mead­ows would of­fer the best op­por­tu­ni­ties. All the signs sug­gested it, and whilst not hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to recce prop­erly, it could well pro­duce some sport if the poo piles proved cor­rect!

I lis­tened to a late, clay-shoot­ing les­son bang­ing away in the back­ground, and hun­kered down in my Jack Pyke wa­ter­proofs to avoid yet an­other ex­tra­or­di­nary soak­ing of­fered by our sum­mer. I waited ... and waited … and I was about to call it a washout af­ter two hours and dusk drew in, when two trap- cable chom­pers ap­peared from the hedge at 50 yards, in full flight, charg­ing away then dash­ing to­ward me, both

“The ri­fle was solid yet light and well- bal­anced, scream­ing qual­ity”

screech­ing to a stop 25 yards from me, at full alert. I lined up, flicked the safety, took up the first stage and let my shot go. I watched through the scope as my tar­get dropped, but no crack. I’d missed cleanly by hur­ry­ing the shot.

I quickly cy­cled the Cy­clone’s Biathlon lever and due to the al­most in­audi­ble shot, the sec­ond rab­bit was still there at at­ten­tion, but very wary. I re­leased the sec­ond shot and this time the pel­let hit per­fectly, and the dusk was punc­tured by the crack from the pel­let’s ar­rival at tar­get, the muz­zle re­port barely whis­pered. A few min­utes later, and the rea­son for the long- eared menace’s ten­sion be­came clear; a beau­ti­ful dog fox marched out and only a yell from me pre­vented my har­vest be­com­ing his din­ner!

I met Des as we both left, him smil­ing at my sod­den state. He ex­tended a sec­ond chance the next evening, be­cause of the weather, and we agreed I’d try the pad­docks be­cause the horses had been moved.

Weather or not

The show­ers were still amaz­ing in their sud­den­ness and fe­roc­ity as I waited on day two, watch­ing rain flow off the peak of my cap in the hope of im­press­ing Des. On ar­rival, I had dis­turbed two rab­bits be­fore the tor­rent, and watched as they ran in, so I knew where to am­bush and waited 30 yards away up the hedge. As the rain eased, 45 min­utes in, both trap trash­ers came bound­ing out play­fully. I lined up on the one near­est the hedge line, the shot was true, and it rolled over with barely a twitch. The sec­ond dashed back to­ward the hedge, but a quick cy­cle and the Cy­clone was ready to whis­per good­bye as the rab­bit stalled for a last look. Two rab­bits bagged in 15 sec­onds; cer­tainly worth the soaked wait.

I called Des to say ‘ thank you’ as I left, and he of­fered me the chance to have a crack at the squir­rels on his feed­ers, from a hide or high seat, later in the au­tumn, and to come again in a cou­ple of weeks for an­other hunt for rab­bits - amaz­ing!

This po­ten­tially bril­liant new per­mis­sion, and the deadly per­for­mance of the FX Cy­clone, has proven to me that the cook­ies are wise. It’s easy to tread the most pop­u­lar paths and end up blink­ered, nar­row­ing your op­por­tu­ni­ties and miss­ing many oth­ers, but if you take a look around once in a while and think more in­di­vid­u­ally, you will find fan­tas­tic op­tions that can so eas­ily be missed by oth­ers. Go ask the cook­ies!

“Two rab­bits bagged in 15 sec­onds; cer­tainly worth the soaked wait”

Be­low: I was able to op­er­ate the side lever eas­ily

Bot­tom: Sit­ting and wait­ing proved the right ap­proach

Back­ground : It’s a beau­ti­ful place to hunt Bot­tom: The bal­ance and fit were spot- on for me Bot­tom left: A brace from the pad­dock was a good start

Be­low: The wa­ter meadow pro­vided an­other rab­bit

Above : Once the si­lencer was fit­ted the Cy­clone was nearly silent

Right : Here we are then

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