Tuesday, 16 November 2010

My book

Although we managed to have copies of my new book, Hunting with Air Rifles – The Complete Guide, ready in time for the Midland Game Fair, it has now been officially released and is available through most major bookstores and selected shooting magazines (see the book clubs in Airgun Shooter and Sporting Rifle).

It’s a 180-page hardback, detailing all aspects of hunting with air rifles - from simple springers to the latest pre-charged guns.
Chapters cover airguns and how they work; choosing the right gun for the job; different sighting systems and how to set them up and use them properly; ammunition and calibre selection; shooting stances and techniques; clothing and accessories; the law; acquiring shooting permission; quarry habits; hunting tactics and field craft through the changing seasons; hide building; FAC-rated airguns; game preparation and a wide range of easy-to-follow recipes for rabbit and pigeon.

My intention was to produce an in-depth guide to help enthusiastic airgun shooters make the most of their time in the field (and turn the result into a tasty meal) but there’s also lots in there to help more experienced shots to raise their game. Whether culling rats and feral pigeons around the farmyard, decoying pigeons over corn stubbles, shooting squirrels in the woods or hunting rabbits for the pot, it’s all covered.

The book is the distillation of what I have learned, through success and failure, during almost 25 years of hunting with air rifles.
All of the photos are by myself and my good friend Kev Hawker, who those of you who read the airgun magazines will probably recognise. Jeffrey Olstead at the BASC was kind enough to write a foreward, illustrator Jon Brammer at Creative Fold did a great job with images to introduce each chapter (as you can see) and I’m really pleased with what the design team at Northumbria Press achieved with the layout.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Westy Tray product test

I managed to get out with the SmoothShooting Westy Tray at the weekend and can certainly say that it makes loading Daystates a lot easier when in single-shot mode. You hardly have to look as the steep-sloping sides roll the pellet into its track in front of the probe, and there's not the risk of pellets rolling out the other side as with the standard tray.
Have a look at the profiles of the Westy (top) and standard tray (bottom) to see how it works.

You'll also notice that the Westy Tray has four fixing magnets whereas the Daystate has just two. However, the Westy lacks the locking pins that keep the Daystate tray rock solid and, although it has locating skirts on either side of the contact point, there is some discernable creep from left to right - probably just a fraction of a millimetre, though. The absence of those pins means you can fit the Westy either way round so it can quickly and easily be switched from left-hand to right-hand loading.
In use, the all-important alignment seemed to be perfect and there was no hint of contact with the loading probe or its O-ring.
Loading was much, much easier although it is harder to retrieve pellets from the deep-sided Westy should you happen to chuck one in the wrong way round!

On the range...

These groups were shot from at bipod at 40 metres with a steady right to left wind. The red target cicles are 10mm across. Groups shot with the Daystate tray are on the left and the Westy on the right.
As you can see, there really is very little difference in terms of down-range performance, and the shot that strayed slightly high in the top-right group can probably be put down to the weather conditions.

How it looks...
The Westy Tray is very well engineered and really doesn't look like a retro-fit gadget. Here it is on my Daystate Mk4.

For more info, see http://www.smoothshooting.com/

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

First rat of the winter

I keep poultry in my garden and this means that one or two rats occasionally show up for a sniff around the chicken run when natural food supplies get low during the colder months. My poultry run is made of 25mm wire mesh, the bottom foot of which is buried so they can't get in but it doesn't stop them from trying. The first rat of the year (pictured) arrived last night!

My first line of defence against rats is a Fenn trap that is hidden behind the back of the run and, as you can see, it is very effective. Once set, the trap is placed inside a wooden tunnel which is made secure to prevent any embarrassing accidents with neighbours' cats.

As soon as rats arrive on the scene, they course around the outer boundary of the run, looking for a way in, and soon fall victim to the trap. If I catch any more in the next day or two, I'll be investigating with gun and lamp...