Steven Fletcher tells us how to shoot safely – and quietly – at home
Reader, Steven Fletcher, has some sound advice for us all
I’ve been shooting airguns for over 50 years, now, and since retiring from the hunting field, most of my shooting is done in my back garden. During the past few years I’ve developed concerns that we, as representatives of this great sport of ours, could do better on a public relations front; especially those of us who shoot in our gardens, or on property where non- shooters can be affected by what we do. It’s not just abiding by the law, either.
LEGAL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITIES
For instance, it’s my legal right to shoot inanimate targets in my garden, provided my pellets all remain within my property and I don’t cause ‘alarm and distress’ to anyone using a public footpath, road or access area, the centre of which is within 50 feet of where I shoot. That’s all simple enough, but what the purely legal requirements don’t cover, is consideration for my neighbours.
There are no public access areas of any kind near my garden, so I can if I wish, hang a metal pellet catcher on my garden fence and shoot away to my heart’s content. Imagine what that would sound like to my next- door neighbours, though, especially if they were in their garden at the time.
QUIET AND CONSIDERATE
That’s why I’ve used concrete slabs to build a sand-filled ‘bunker’ as a permanent, low- noise pellet- catcher, and I always do my best to let my neighbours know I’m shooting. On the rare occasions I go hunting, I offer my neighbours a rabbit or pigeon. All of my neighbours and I are keen on feeding the wild birds and this can result in the occasional rat problem, so everyone thoroughly approves of my shooting any rats I see, and that’s another way to get people ‘on side’.
BE BACKSTOP AWARE
I recently attended a gathering at a friend’s house and his son is a keen airgunner. The lad showed me his ‘shooting range’ and I was dismayed to see he was relying on a thick growth of wisteria growing above his fence to act as a secondary backstop. The lad’s airguns were low- power plinkers, but even so, I knew that continual peppering with pellets would eventually see some of those pellets going beyond the boundary fence – and breaking the law. Some practical advice soon averted any problems and my friend’s son has been given permission to build a bunker like mine.
Being a good neighbour and a positive representative of our sport isn’t about ‘giving in to the antis’ or ‘being ashamed of what we do’. It’s about having consideration for those who might not understand our precious hobby, and whose only knowledge of guns and those who use them comes from a sensationalist tabloid media. I believe it’s our job to redress the prejudice implanted by the media and to show us, and our sport, as they really are, which is legal, safe, considerate and perfectly acceptable.
RIGHT: Double wrong! That fence panel is way too flimsy for a backstop, and can you imagine how irritating the clang, clang, clang of pellets hitting that metal target would be?