Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

satisfaction as if you were to confide the making of your dress coat to a country tailor. There is generally the same difference between the quality, appearance, and finish of the two articles, although a country gun may occasionally be found to shoot as well as a London one, and a country coat to wear and look as well; but, generally speaking, the reverse is the case. A country gun is seldom intrinsically as good as a London one, and never so well finished; there are, I believe, one or two provincial makers who are considered exceptions, although I have not met with them.

I have seen and used country guns which were very deficient and ineffective: arising principally from imperfect boring, and from an absence of that high internal polish of the calibre which so particularly characterises all London guns. It must be obvious that the harder the internal surface of the calibre and the brighter the polish, the farther and more forcibly will the shot be propelled, as we all know from experience when we have had hard shooting from one gun, that in proportion as the barrels become foul, the distance of killing is gradually reduced: hence I think it may be fairly inferred that the reverse of the proposition is equally true, that the cleaner, harder, and brighter the internal surface over which the shot passes, the greater will be the distance to which it will be propelled: — and as to finish in other respects, the reason is equally obvious; a country gun is generally finished by a few hands, and these rarely first-rate, as firstrate men move off" to London in quest of higher wages than they can ever procure in the country. The locks, too, are very frequently signally deficient, sometimes being wood-bound, and stiff in their movements, and sometimes very unequal in their strength, hence occasioning much disappointment.

I will not enter upon the scientific part of the subject of gun-making, nor trouble my readers about the principle of boring barrels, finishing locks, or polishing gun-stocks, these matters being quite safe in the keeping of gunmakers, and the knowledge of them not necessary to the possession and use of the best guns that can be made.

With regard to calibre, weight, length of barrels, and length and inflection of stock, these will depend entirely on circumstances, bein» relative points. The length of stock will depend upon the length of your arms, and the inflection or bend of it upon the length of your neck, and as good shooting much depends on your having a stock which exactly suits you, you cannot be too particular in this respect when ordering your guns. If the stock be too crooked, or too short from the trigger to the keel plate, you will be liable to shoot under your birds

especially if your gun be a heavy one, and there be too much weight forward.*

It is the fashion of the present day to use heavy guns of large calibre; this in my opinion for ordinary shooting is a mistake. It is very true that with a heavy gun you have a better chance, and may possibly kill at a greater distance, inasmuch as you can put in a heavier charge and larger shot, the latter lying as compact and going as close from a heavy gun as smaller shot will from a gun of less weight; but for partridge, pheasant, or grouse, at the beginning of the season, a gun of 14 or even 16 calibre will answer every purpose without encumbering yourself needlessly with extra weight, and in a long day's shooting a heavy gun will be found very fatiguing. For my own part, if I were grouse shooting, even in the months of October and November, when the birds are wild, and I were working hard from morning till night, and endeavouring to kill as much as possible, I should infinitely prefer a light handy gun (No. 14. calibre), carrying 1 £ oz. of shot, to a heavy one carrying 2 oz. (No. 9. is the calibre now most in fashion), and I am convinced any good shot would kill more grouse with the light gun than with the heavy one, simply because in quick shooting, which it

* Distance from trigger at full-cock 14£ inches to buttend, for long arms.

would be at that season of the year, he would get the lighter gun more readily to the shoulder, and not be so liable when fagged towards the end of the day to shoot under his birds, as he would be with a heavy gun.

It frequently happens after following your dogs up a steep mountain as fast as you can walk, when they are drawing after running birds, that the latter rise exactly as you are reaching the summit of the hill, just when all the breath is nearly pumped out of your body, and you are obliged to shoot quick, as the birds are escaping from your sight over the top of the mountain: it is then you experience the great advantage of a light gun and the disadvantage of a heavy one. I am presuming the sportsman to be a keen and indefatigable one and using his own legs; should, however, the case be otherwise and a pony be used, and no great fatigue incurred, then of course a heavy gun may be 'used to advantage, especially at the latter part of the season, when the birds are wild; but the riding on the hills is generally so very bad and difficult, and the ponies so very apt to stumble and fall, and occasionally get bogged (unless they are old mountaineers and used to the work), that walking to a man in sound health and in good condition is far preferable, when once arrived at the scene of action. Ponies of course are indispensable in going to and returning from distant moors, but if you ride when your dogs are at work you will be sure to lose many shots. Single birds will frequently rise close to you which have escaped your dogs, however good they may be, especially where the heather is deep, and this at a time when grouse are wildest, as I have always found there a few single old cocks who will lie close at all seasons of the year.

I have heard many sportsmen say they prefer heavy guns to light ones because they can put in a heavier charge and kill at greater distances: this is very true in the case of those who are good shots and have at the same time strength to carry a heavy gun through a long day's hard work; but I am persuaded that, notwithstanding the additional chance which more metal and increase of charge would give, the extra weight in the hands of an indifferent shot would more than counterbalance the advantage of the extra charge, inasmuch as all indifferent shots shoot both under and behind their birds, and the liability to do this would be very much increased by the extra weight.

Let any one who considers himself an indifferent shot make the experiment on the hills in the months of October and November, when the grouse shooting in my opinion is decidedly the best. To kill at long distances, increase your charge of powder, but not that of your shot. It is a bad plan to overweight your powder; it not only de

« ForrigeFortsett »