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Thursday, 23 February 2017

My First Gun...then my second, third, fourth and then I begin to lose count

I love tanks. I'm glad I've got that out there, it's done now. I used to read military recognition journals as much as I read Asterix books as a child. Essentially, I grew up a spotter, a spotter of military kit. I think this combination of literature has resulted in my love for Tank Girl being somewhat extreme.

However, after a degree in War Studies and nearly two decades involved with target rifle shooting I consider myself a pacifist and the detailed spec of target rifle kit bores the crap out of me. I think what I've learned about myself is that it's not the technical details that interest me nor do I condone the violent history of firearms. The active process of firing a shot and achieving consistent results keeps me coming back. Having devoted my time to novice shooters and not always having bespoke kit I have had to hone the dark art of bodging. I don't want a piece of kit that does the work for me, where's the fun in that?

A favourite story of mine is from a former captain of my squad shooting the Imperial meeting with a beaten up old Grunig 7.62 target rifle using a threadbare jacket. Typically, he was late to his detail and threw himself down next to a young lady from an esteemed shooting school who had pedigree Bisley heritage. She had all the shiny kit. My captain described her disgust beautifully when they exchanged register score cards at the end and he had comfortably beaten her by a couple of points. What's that phrase now...? All the gear and no idea. The best shooter can shoot anything well.

The world of target rifle was a universe away from my garden. My little Diana didn't even have rifling. After cocking what looked like its barrel you unscrewed a smoothbore tube from the muzzle to remove it and insert a parallel sided pellet that wasn't waisted, or had a skirt. It wasn't powerful, it wasn't accurate and eventually dad bought me a decent Chinese made .177 air rifle that lasted years. Saying that, mum and dad had my Diana mounted in a museum grade display box. That little piece began my journey 33 years ago.

A friend of my father gave us a .22 break barrel Diana and that was a quality air rifle. A .22 pellet is so much more fun than the smaller .177. When shooting at broken pottery or damaged gramophone records the heavier pellet produces a much more satisfying effect.

It was a long time before I bought my own rifle, a second hand .177 Feinwerkbau. It made shooting in the postage stamp sized back garden of our house outside the school too easy. I wish it had been .22 as well.

All my air rifles were break barrels and that suited me just fine. They cause you massive disruption to your position and hold of the rifle in order to reload them. Building and maintaining your position is the first skill of marksmanship to master. If your position is crap, your shoot will be crap.

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