SOL­DIER­ING ON!

Air­gun World reader, Mark Green, in­tro­duces us to his re­mark­able, ex-Para grandad

Airgun World - - Con­tents -

In­spi­ra­tional Air­gun­ner

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.

BLACK POW­DER

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.

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