Back in the game

Robin Scott’s in­her­ited 12-bore hadn’t fired a shot in more than 45 years. But old guns have many tales to tell and, in some cases, more glory to be­stow upon their new owner

Sporting Gun - - Snapshots - FE­BRU­ARY 2019 www.shootin­

Dad al­ways told me “never look back; least of all go back.” He reck­oned it al­ways led to dis­ap­point­ment. Now he’s gone, I un­der­stand what he was get­ting at: peo­ple and places change, and of­ten not for the bet­ter. Yet I’m fairly sure his doc­trine didn’t ex­tend to guns, or fish­ing tackle.

No mat­ter how hard I try I can’t help but get a tad nos­tal­gic when­ever I cast a fly with one of his split cane rods, or look at his gun in the cabi­net. It was his dad who bought it some­time in the late 19th cen­tury from a gun shop close to where he lived at the time — Wil­liam Calder of Aberdeen.

I’d like to say it is a fine qual­ity heir­loom. It isn’t. This back-ac­tioned side­lock none­jec­tor was prob­a­bly built in Birm­ing­ham and stamped with the Calder name on the top rib. For all I know, as well as guns and ammo, Billy C also sold coal, fish and fresh veg to pass­ing Aber­do­nians. Few records of him ex­ist.

An hon­est gun

Yet it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter who crafted the ac­tion, locks and bar­rels: when all is said and done it is an hon­estly made gun, lack­ing frills, but ro­bust and nicely bal­anced. Best of all, Grand­dad learnt to shoot with it, so did dear old Dad, and then me. Oh, and Dad’s el­der sis­ter, Rose­mary. Back in the war the fam­ily ran a mar­ket town ho­tel with Rosie re­spon­si­ble for the daily up­keep of the bed­rooms and linen closet. To which Dad’s pet tom cat was drawn like a mag­net, and al­ways left a vis­it­ing card. Aunt Rose­mary hated the an­i­mal with a pas­sion, but no­body be­lieved her when she said she’d shoot “the bloody thing” given a chance. Then one day it hap­pened. No sooner had the cat sprayed against a pile of freshly laun­dered sheets than it was chased down­stairs, and into the or­chard, by Aun­tie. Sadly for Tom, in among the may­hem Rose­mary spot­ted Grand­dad’s gun propped by the kitchen door, grabbed a car­tridge off the ta­ble, stuffed

“in­stead of fruit, vis­i­tors brought him car­tridges”

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