Thursday, 10 December 2015
Monday, 9 November 2015
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Saturday, 4 July 2015
Thursday, 25 June 2015
Thursday, 4 June 2015
Friday, 24 April 2015
Yesterday I went clay shooting with my father. There's nothing unique in that I hear you say. But I'd disagree.
Just over twelve years ago, my father suffered a massive and near fatal heart attack, and whilst recovering from this trauma further complications ensued, double pneumonia, M.R.S.A, and finally a series of major strokes.
The strokes took the heaviest toll.
My father, for all of his life, an outdoorsman, had been hunting shooting or fishing right from a boy. The last stoke robbed him of his sight, leaving him initially totally blind.
He was in a really bad way, so much so, that he demanded that all his guns and rifles were got rid of, and that he would never shoot again. He was in a very dark place, and over the months that followed my mother nursed him back to health.
During this time the wonder that is the human body, slowly started to repair itself. Two years down the line he had regained a small amount of vision in his right eye, but his left eye was, at best, a blurred mass of light.
One day, about five years ago he asked about his gun collection, we told him that it was right where he had left it, and was just waiting for him to say the word and we could go shooting together again.
This was the first sign of interest, and in the ensuing years we gently dropped hints that maybe he could give his shooting another go.
About two months ago a family friend, put one of their friends in touch with Dad. This person was interested in shooting, had brought all he gear, gun included, but was not having any success.
He had been to over a dozen places and everyone had told him different things, and now he was totally confused.
Dad was hesitant to take it any further, being as how he was now registered as blind.
Mum and I pushed the matter, after all he been recommended by their friend, and he had been until his illness a good shot at clays and game, had taught clay shooting, both trap and skeet, at a local private school and had shot for a living.
In the end he caved in to the pressure, and said that he would try to help this person, provided that he was able to shoot and hit what he was aiming at; that's the deal!
So last Sunday, twelve years after his illness, aged 80 years old, my Dad picked up his shotgun and went clay shooting.
I walked with him to the first stand, right up until he got into the cage I could tell he was a little nervous. He placed two cartridges in the shotgun, raised the stock to meet the barrels, pulled the gun close into his body, assumed his distinctive shooting posture, and called pull. A small black disc came spinning straight toward him, about 20 yards out and 25 feet in the air. A loud report was heard and the disc broke into a dozen or more pieces. At the sound of the shot, another disc appeared from behind a hedge rising into the bright clear blue sky. This was on Dad's completely blind left side, he knew roughly were it was coming from, and after some searching managed to acquire sight of the target, which by now had climbed to around 60 feet and was about 10 yards in front, another report bellowed from his gun, and again the target broke into many pieces. The grin that appeared on his face was priceless, he was two for two. He broke the gun and continued to shoot the required targets for the stand.
Two hours later, with the course completed, we went back to the club house to see how well he had done.
His score for the round 19 ex 40, and as he said "not bad for an old blind guy." When we arrived Dad was a little apprehensive, not sure if he was still able to shoot. When we left I could see a side of him that I'd not seen for a long time, and already asking when we could go again.
It took a long time to get Dad back, but with patience and support, shooting truly is a sport for all regardless of age or infirmity.
Saturday, 28 February 2015
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Now here's one for you, stay with me on this; it may not appear from the start connected but really it is. FOX HUNTING! Here the hunting of any animal with more than two hounds, rabbits and rats excluded, was banned in 2005. The government of the day spent hundreds of hours, at tax payer's expense, debating the issue, and when they had secured an unassailable majority passed legislation detailing what could and could not be done when hunting with hounds. The animal rights groups and anti-hunting groups claimed victory, it had taken over 80 years to get this legislation on the statute books, but finally they had succeeded.
Now considering that the anti's had over 80 years to prepare this piece of legislation, you would think that they would be happy with the result. Not a bit of it, ten years down the line and they are now complaining that the use of drag hunts and trail hunts extoll and encourage illegal hunting, especially of foxes, and these, and other hunting techniques should now also be banned.
So what's that got to do with shooting? The answer is methodology, the methodology above was used by the anti-gun groups in the US back in 1994 with the Clinton administration's "Assault weapons ban", they hadn't had the 80 years that the anti-hunting groups had, but the end result was the same. The law was passed making a number of aesthetic items, previously legal on a rifle, illegal overnight. For example, you could no longer have a bayonet lug on your rifle, an adjustable stock, forward hand grip etc. all cosmetic features, which made no difference to the effectiveness of the rifle concerned. Again the anti's congratulated themselves in obtaining a victory.
In both of the above instances the victories were short lived; in the UK hunts, previously worried about any legislation, looked at the law and decided that, within the confines of the law, they could keep all their hounds and still hunt. The new form of hunting was to be either a drag hunt or trail hunt, they would still be able to follow the hounds on horseback, keep all the centuries' old traditions alive, and meet up with their old friends to enjoy their customs and traditional way of life, but at the end of the day no fox.
In the US, gun owners, being law abiding too, also complied with the new laws, as did the manufacturers. They continued to make and sell exactly the same rifles and shotguns as before, but without the cosmetic features outlawed. The law that was supposed to reduce crime and make everyone safer, had no definable effect on public safety. Once the anti's came to realise that their law had no effect, their call was to try to get more items added to the list, along with calibres and magazine capacities.
In both cases, the laws passed were poorly thought out, and badly executed in their implementation. They also highlight the fact that the anti's, of whatever group or association, goal is the complete removal of any and all activities that they disapprove of, and by what-ever means. In the case of the 1994 ban, the law was allowed to "sunset" after a new administration refused to sign the bill into law permanently. Here in the UK, the hunting law is equally un-workable, but to date there is not a political party brave enough to face up to the intimidation of the animal rights organisations, and repeal the law.
When it comes to the debate on lead being used for shot or bullets, the debate is not if it's banned, more when it will be banned. The advocates for the banning of this material being used are vociferous in their assertion that lead in this form is harmful to all, and nothing but an outright ban will do to protect the flora and fauna of the countryside, and protect people from the effects of lead poisoning.
And on the face of it this seems to be a sensible stance to take, after all there is a long documented history of lead poisoning by man, on man. The Romans were most probably the first to use lead in large quantities; its abundance of natural deposits all over their empire, its relatively simply production method, and its ability to be cast at low temperature or worked with simple tools without the need for heat, and its imperviousness to water, all made lead a perfect metal for the time.
It was unfortunate for the Romans that the lead they used was still very soft and susceptible to oxidisation, as it is in its natural state when the ore bearing rock is exposed the atmosphere, the ore at the surface produces a white powder. In the Roman water pipes, relying mostly on gravity to make the water flow, there was insufficient pressure to force the water to all parts of the pipe. This resulted in pipes being filled to different levels when in use. When the levels were low the pipe would oxidise, then when the level rose, the oxide would be washed away in suspension within the water. This water, with the lead, would be consumed people, where the microscopic particles would eventually enter the blood stream. The Romans did not know this, but they did notice that water would taste sweet, and so they used the lead oxide to sweeten food. Through the century's, lead oxide was used in many, many products, until it was eventually found to be detrimental to health and in large enough quantities, poisonous.
As time passed man found ways to harness the positive attributes of lead by adding other materials to it to make it more stable. One of the first metals used to harden lead was arsenic, whilst this had the desired effect, the addition of arsenic made the lead more poisonous than ever, and any game shot would need to have the contaminated meat around the wound excised, thus making the rest of the animal edible. Later another metal, antimony, was used to harden the lead, in ratios from 0.5% to 25%. When used for shooting the lead antimony mix is between 2-8%, at this ratio the lead becomes much harder and therefore more stable, in addition, this small amount of antimony greatly reduces the rate of oxidisation to the point that lead shot these days rarely oxidises.
At this point I hear the question, "Then why is it banned in most countries around the world for shooting duck and other waterfowl, and over wetlands"? This is a simple answer really, due to the way that most waterfowl obtain and digest their food, lead can enter their bodies and blood stream. Most waterfowl feed by taking food in and then grinding the food up in the gizzard. This grinding process in the digestion of the waterfowls food is what allows shot to be ground into very small particles and thus enter into the blood stream or other areas of the bird's body. Other birds also have gizzards, what about them? Most waterfowl have bills, not beaks, this creates an inability to be able to be specific when finding food. A bird with a bill will puddle and filter food, but in the process take in small stones along with the invertebrates etc. that it feeds on. These small stones assist in the breakdown of food, but also breakdown any shot that may have been taken in. birds with beaks on the other hand peck their food and are able, to a degree, to discern between food and stones, thereby avoiding hard objects like shot entering their body.
The lead shot used in modern cartridges more stable than that used in the past, and when shot from a gun and dispersed into the environment presents no more risk of pollution than that of naturally occurring lead, and due to the antimony will sink below the surface long before it could oxidise.; once there the oxygen weak environment of the soil means that oxidisation process will be held back indefinitely.
So why all the furore over lead now, it's been used for centuries, its better managed now than ever, and science has ensured that when it is used, especially in shooting, it is safe. The answer to this is not straight forward, but in a nutshell, those that wish to stop hunting, shooting, and civilian gun ownership around the world, came up with a lead ban. The reason for banning lead is that without it, ammunition to a degree would not exist, as replacement and alternatives are either non-existent or very expensive. In order to assist their argument these groups have and are using their usual weapons, misinformation, fear, and emotion.
The misinformation source is the based around the use of lead in the chemical and petro-chemical industries, as in lead in petrol/gas. The science was undertaken and evaluated and the lead particulates in the atmosphere were proven to harmful to all. They are now taking this evidence, as evidence of lead in shooting, being of equal harm to the environment and humans. This is patently not true, and there is no evidence to support this assertion.
The fear mongering, in the face of evidence to the contrary, has centred on game taken by shooting. Lead shot or fragments (metallic lead), if taken and ingested in the normal course of eating a meal, will pass through the digestive tract without any side effects. This is quite different to the effects of someone ingesting soluble forms of compounded lead found in industrial products, such as leaded paint, gasoline and pesticides, the lead is readily absorbed in the body and increases blood-lead levels significantly.
Finally emotion, animal rights groups are especially adept at the manipulation of emotion in order to achieve their goals, and they have lent their vast skill and knowledge to the cause of banning lead in ammunition. A good example of this is plight of the California condor. In the tracts of land where this bird presides, legislation was passed that no lead ammunition could be used by anyone for any purpose. Since the bill to prohibit the use of lead in these areas, to protect the condor, and with a compliance rate from the hunting community of over 98.89%; the 2009, 2010, and 2011 condor blood-lead data, collected by the Condor Recovery Program in California, shows that the incidence of lead exposure and poisoning in condors remains static and has actually increased slightly.
Governments around the world, along with unelected bodies such as the United Nations, are promoting this and other erroneous causes in an effort to remove firearms from civilian ownership. Whilst in many cases the direct approach has failed, the removal of either a component or material used in the manfacture of firearms and related ephemera can, will, and does have a huge effect. So when lead is banned outright, do not be surprised to see that copper bullets are dangerous to the environment as they degrade naturally in the soil.