Airgun World reader, Mark Green, introduces us to his remarkable, ex-Para grandad
Meet Cliff Baxter, 93 years young and still a better shot than his grandson!
“instilling in him the philosophy, ‘The gun is always loaded, the dog always bites, the horse always kicks”
I’m not sure if my mum has forgiven me for buying my grandad, Cliff Baxter, a copy of Airgun World’s January edition. Until three months ago, Grandad had been using his beloved .22 Weihrauch for target practice, but recently he began to struggle with repeatedly cranking the spring, and had been contemplating retiring his trigger finger, so when my uncle saw the magazine, he suggested Grandad invest in a new air rifle, rather than spend any more money at the tattooist!
Grandad read your ‘Sig Sauer’s About!’ article and the CO2-powered MCX caught his eye. He hatched a cunning plan, traded in the springer and ordered a .177 version of the Sig. “How does it feel, Grandad?” I asked when he’d taken delivery.
“Weighty, but not as heavy as a Bren gun!” he replied, with a glint in his eye.
Grandad began his gun ownership at the age of 10. His father taught him how to shoot, instilling in him the philosophy: ‘The gun is always loaded, the dog always bites, the horse always kicks!’ As a young man, Grandad joined the Royal Army Defence Corps, the forerunner of the Home Guard. He was then called up into the Royal Army Service Corps, (RASC) fondly nicknamed, ‘Run Away Someone’s Coming!’ From there he progressed into the Parachute Regiment, served in north Germany on the Baltic Sea, and finished his military service in Palestine.
Throughout his life, Grandad has always had a keen interest in firearms. As a member of Christchurch gun club, he shot regularly until new gun legislation and my
“He regularly competed and won several black-powder trophies”
grandmother forced his retirement. He used to shoot a Security Six revolver with .357 Magnum rounds and a .44 replica cowboy six-shooter. This used black powder and lead balls, which were smelted down from the beading on old leaded-light windows. At the range, they used to put Grandad downwind of everyone else due to him ‘pulling the trigger on a yard of flame and a dustbin of smoke’. Around this time, he regularly competed in shooting competitions and won several black-powder trophies.
QUICK AND EASY
When the 30-round Sig arrived, it solved the Weihauch’s cranking issue, but raised the question of how we could support the new gun’s weight. Inspired by your ‘Racken Load!’ car mounted-rest feature, Grandad’s innovative solution was to attach a support to the frame of his Zoom. My dad pitched in with some 22mm copper pipe and the loan of his plumbing tools, and I helped Grandad to develop his concept. The bespoke ‘Zoom Walker Stalker’ pipework fits into a 90-degree elbow permanently bolted onto the Zoom, secured with gutter bolts pushed into slightly oversize holes for quick and easy dissembling.
During the winter, Grandad sets up a range in his bungalow, shooting down the hallway at a target in front of the kitchen back door – and at 93 years old, he’s still a better shot than me! I
Grandad in his Army days.
The rest can take the weight allowing him to shoot all day.
His Zoom Walker Stalker sees plenty of action.
Target in sight.
His black powder trophies.