We introduce a series of short films for pigeon shooters
One thing is for sure, there won’t be a hosepipe ban this summer. After the snow, ice and gale-force winds of the Beast from the East, the early spring weather has been cool and very, very wet.
It’s late March but there has been little in the way of evidence of spring just yet. “I decided to get all my crops in last year, so for the first time I can recall, I have got no drillings to worry about,” Andy says, “and I’m pretty happy about that. Those that have are struggling to get machinery on the ground and many are already running behind.”
There is an unspoken message in those words as we set up cameras and tripods under the first meaningful sunshine of the year. And that message is: “hurry up, I need to go spraying”!
But, in a change from our usual monthly meet-ups, he’s set aside a few precious hours to host a new series of short films in which he is covering the essentials of pigeon shooting and how he goes about the job.
“Normally we would be out with a gun. There are birds building up on chickweed here among the rape plants, and a friend has large numbers moving in on his Lucerne so there is a bit of sport to be had, even without a day on the drillings.”
Andy has been sharing his advice in these pages for over seven years and has built a huge following online and on social media, too. “People often want to come up to me at shows and talk pigeon shooting. They want to know what the secret to success is. And there really is nothing special about what I do! There are plenty of pigeon shooters and guides who are out more than me and take bigger bags than I do or who are better shots than me.
“For me, the main thing is that I don’t hold anything back in my articles or my films. Whatever I do, I share. I can’t promise it’ll work for everybody, all of the time, but this is how I do it and over the years, I’ve had plenty of good days – and plenty of not-so-good ones, too!
“Everybody has their own way of doing things. Bits and bobs you learn over the years that work for you when the going is tough. Tips you pick up from an old-timer with 40 years of experience. A new piece of kit that hits the market and gives an edge. There are no rights or wrongs, really.”
I don’t have the courage to point out that Andy is that old-timer with 40-odd years experience…
This first batch of films will cover some of the basics that every pigeon shooter will need to master, but hopefully there will be some gems of wisdom that will help even the more experienced shooters out there learn something new.
“I want the films to be short, easy to digest and understand and also easy to share with your mates on social media. I want shooters of all ages and experience levels to be able to get something from them but the focus for these is definitely on those at the start of their shooting journey.”
‘People often come up to me at shows and want to know what my secret to success is – and there really is nothing special about what I do!’
So what exactly will we be covering? Here, Andy talks us through the first handful of subjects he will be exploring.
“There are two main types of hide that I build and no matter what time of the year it is, I always go about the build the same way. I’ll be talking through where to site your hide, what I am looking for in an effective location and how to go about building hides in hedgerows and out in the middle of a field. I’ll look at nets and how to camouflage the hides, too.”
“I’m going to be looking at all the different types of decoy that you can buy and explain how I set them out and at what range.”
Flappers and whirlies
“What are they, how do they work and how should you use them? Some people think that whirlies are a magic bullet, but they are just a tool in the armoury and I will explain how to set them up and how I use them in the field. I’ll look at batteries and camouflaging too.”
Guns and ammo
“The very simplest pigeon shooting I do is just me with a gun and a bag of cartridges, nothing else. The right gun, the right choke and the right cartridge will help ensure that you get the best from the day, no matter what the conditions.
“I will be explaining what guns I prefer and why, along with some advice on the chokes and cartridges that I use.”
Andy discusses gun and choke selection
Knowing your decoy ranges is crucial for a big bag
Andy’s hides are always a sight to behold – unless you’re a pigeon!
The right cartridge can ensure you get the best from your day
Whirlies and flappers are key tools