15 things to know when buying your first gun

Apply for your shotgun certificate in plenty of time. Depending on where you live in the country it could take weeks or months to arrive. A reputable dealer will reserve your gun for you while you’re waiting for your certificate. Buy your first gun from a recommended gun shop –…

Ben Davies of Bisley

Gun mount and gun fit – going back to basics

Close decoying pigeons often look like the easiest shot, but too many misses can be the start to a memorable day for all the wrong reasons. The key is attention to basics — I often tell clients that if it feels hard, they are doing it wrong — so the…

Getting lead right in shooting

I want to understand more about lead and targets

Q: I want to try and understand more about lead. Some people say give the target 5ft while others say a couple of inches. Can you help me see the light?  A: The differing amounts of lead that people see on targets can be one of the most talked about subjects in the shooting…

buying a gun at auction

Tips on buying a gun at auction

Thanks to popular TV shows, most of us are familiar with what goes on at auctions. But that doesn’t mean we’d be happy with the idea of bidding at a gun auction. The fact is that, in spite of our familiarity with TV entertainment such as Antiques Road Trip, Bargain…

What to do in closed season?

10 ways the modern sporting gentleman can survive the closed season

Spend quality time with your second family It is common knowledge that the modern sporting gentleman refers to his main family as his shooting syndicate, his fishing syndicate or his hunt, or, all three. It is therefore his duty during the closed season to gather his second family around during…

Pigeon cartridges

What’s the law on transporting shotgun cartridges?

Q: I am new to shooting, having gained my shotgun certificate in May last year. I am now the proud owner of a Beretta 12-bore and a Browning 20-bore. I am shooting clays at the moment to get used to the guns and improve my accuracy, but may go on…

Shooting birds in the field

The top 10 shooting excuses

1.The sun was in my eyes… This is a classic, especially among partridge shooters in, as it might be, October when the sun tends to hang low in the sky of a morning. Step one, of course, would be to slip on a pair of sunglasses. Really good sunglasses, mind…

cartridge colour

Should cartridge colour denote bore?

Q: Why don’t cartridge makers stick 
to an internationally agreed colour code for different bore sizes as used to be the case (12-bore were red, 16-bore blue and 20-bore yellow)? Surely this would stop all of these dreadful accidents where people who mix cartridges double-load a 12-bore on top of…

Hatsan Escort Magnum Xtreme

What makes a gun a magnum?

A: With regard to the proofing of shotguns, “magnum” is a legacy term that is no longer current. Under the 1954 Rules of Proof, 3in 12-bore shotguns were proofed at either 3½ton or 4ton per square inch, the abbreviation MAG being applied to the latter. However, the word magnum is now only used in relation to proofing rifles of…

shotgun security

Firearms security

One of the most tragic events of 2016 was the murder of the MP, Jo Cox. She was shot with a sawn-off .22 rifle. Quite how the odious Thomas Mair came to be in possession of it is not known, but it is known that it was previously a lawfully held rifle that had been stolen. It…

Gun fit

Do I really need to have my gun fitted?

Q: Is there really any need to have a gun fitted? My factory-stocked Beretta is perfect in every respect. A couple of friends, though, are forever tinkering with their guns, with mixed results. What are your thoughts on this? A: John says: A lot of folk are fortunate in that “standard” stock measurements…

Banned from shooting for life?

Q: I am currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for manslaughter (there was no element of violence in this offence and the court accepted that there was no intention to cause harm to anyone). I have been a keen shooter for around 15 years but have been told that because…

shotgun barrel

Can I break my gun down into parts to store it?

Q: I need to buy a gun safe for my house, but I don’t have room for a full-size cabinet. I will therefore need to break my gun down into its parts to store it. Will this cause any problems with the gun? A: None whatsoever. Shotguns are designed to be broken…

DIY shoot beaters

Tax and the DIY shoot

Many shoots on farms and estates, with just a modest number of shoot days taken by family and friends, will be run as DIY shoots and private affairs and very much outside the scope of tax and VAT. But there may also be thoughts as to whether the shoot could make money if placed on a commercial footing. Points…

pest species in garden

Can I shoot pest species in my inner-city garden?

A: Always be very circumspect about shooting pests in your own back garden. You do not want armed police attending because some nosy neighbour has called to report that there is someone firing a gun out of the window. In most gardens, it is only safe to use an air rifle. However, larger gardens may be suitable for…

shotgun certificate

Can I do anything to speed up getting my shotgun certificate?

Q: In light of the huge delays in processing shotgun certificate renewals in some counties (Lincolnshire for example) what is your advice to help speed up the process of receiving my shotgun certificate? I call and call but just get fobbed off… A: This is a widespread problem. Whilst some forces are excellent others are woefully inefficient. Lincolnshire in particular has…

My gun cabinet

Do I have to tell police when I move my gun cabinet?

A: Firearm security is the responsibility of the certificate holder not the police. Read condition 4(a) on your certificate. Police involvement is limited to advice only. You don’t need to tell police when you move your gun cabinet There is no statutory duty or need to tell the police that you have moved your cabinet. If you do…

Vintage luggage

8 key things you need to know before you take a gun abroad

A: Firstly congratulations. It’s on my bucket list. I very much like the idea of enjoying a little early sunshine, shooting and eating a little jamon Ibérico washed down with some manzanilla. Let us know how you get on. If you are going with a sporting agent they will normally make all the necessary arrangements to take a gun…

Shooting with choke

Should I change chokes on high bird days?

A: In more recent years it has become fairly standard practice for over-unders to be multi-choked, thereby opening up a dilemma for many shooters about what choke to use. I think this decision is best made by answering the following three questions: what are you going to be shooting, over what distances, and more importantly, with what cartridges? Thinking about the…