When did you last have your gun serviced?
It never ceases to amaze me how few people have their gun serviced regularly in order to make sure that it is in good working order ready for next season. It is especially important if it is an English gun as many of these are nearly 100 years old or in some cases more. One of the most frequent problems we come across is barrel damage particularly when guns (especially double gun users for some reason) are used primarily in the field. It’s all too easy to bang a gun against a car door or a wall causing serious damage to the gun which is often over looked.
At EJ Churchill we’d recommend that all English guns are given a thorough strip and clean every season to allow any parts that need repairing or replacing to be spotted. During this the gun is checked to make sure that it is still in proof and also recommendations are made on preserving the life of the gun through correct maintenance and cartridge use. All other guns should be serviced at least every 2 years depending on frequency of use. This should allow for a trouble free shooting season and do away with time consuming repairs in the middle of the season.
Does your gun fit properly?
This is an issue as an instructor I repeatedly see, guns that basically do not fit the person who shoots them. This can be for various reasons such as the gun was fitted for them when they were much younger which probably means they were a bit taller and dare I say it a bit lighter than they are now! Sometimes other changes have taken place such as the wearing of glasses as the eyesight starts to fade. All too often however I find that the gun never did fit them and never will despite what the person selling the gun says!
If you have never had a gun fit then I would seriously recommend that you come and visit us so we can look at your gun. It is often the case that peoples shooting can be utility transformed by a correctly fitting gun.
Practice makes perfect!
Once we have established that the gun is correctly working and fits you probably the most important thing that you can do to improve your shooting is to practice. This is best done initially under instruction as a few pointers can prevent you becoming frustrated at not being able to hit certain targets. This frustration then leads to a lack of confidence and poor performance in the field usually when you least want it to. We’ve all faced that early season cock bird which appears with ice on its wings and totally destroys your confidence as it continues on its flight unscathed!
Gun and Cartridge Match
This is an often over looked area, the number of game clients who don’t spend enough no time purchasing their game cartridges is amazing. Not only are there the ballistic issues to bear in mind but there is also the confidence that is given by knowledge that you are shooting the best cartridge for the job. When I point this out to clients I often receive the comment that they bought the cheapest cartridge they could but in the scale of a game day the extra 2 or 3 pence per cartridge is well worth it.
Another major cartridge issue is 70mm cartridges being used in 65mm chambered (the majority of English guns have 65mm chambers and prefer paper cases) guns. Under no circumstances should 70mm cartridges be used in 65mm chambers. If you are unsure come and see us!
Don’t forget the dog!
Finally don’t forget all the little bits that make the shooting day more enjoyable. From the coat that has a big rip in it and the boots that leak and you swear every year you are going to replace them, usually when it is raining!
Last but not least make sure that you have provided for the dog, just like you he or she is a little out of practice so spend a little time with them or at the very least buy a lead and whistle!
Above all make sure you have an enjoyable day!