Dispelling the facts & myths of the shooting world
Driven shooting has been a Part of British Countryside tradition for decades. As times have changed some of the old misconceptions have remained. This piece hopes to blow the cobwebs of some old schools of thought. Whilst, hopefully refreshing peoples thoughts and understanding of the sport!
12 bores are for men and 20’s for Women.
This just isn’t the case. You should shoot the gun that fits you and your circumstance the best. I know plenty of men who shoot 20 bores because they prefer the weight of the gun and the tight pattern that the cartridges naturally have. Conversely, I know plenty of women who shoot a 12 out of preference and shoot them very well. The reason that people say 12’s are for men and 20’s are for women is because younger people tend to start on a 20 and grow into a 12 and will then argue that girls never grow into a 12 or that they can’t handle the recoil. For those who start shooting a smaller bore the smaller margin for error translates into an even better shooting performance in the more forgiving 12 bore cartridge. If you feel comfortable and enjoy shooting a 12 bore then do it, if a 20 feels better then choose that irrespective of wether you’re a man or a woman. Shootings all about confidence so don’t get pressured into a gun just because you’re told too!
Plastic wads are better than Fibre wads.
There has been plenty of chatter over the two types of wads. 10 years ago, fibre tech wasn’t great and the benefits of plastic was obvious. However, now the technology has improved and the difference between the two is marginal at best. While the plastic wad is very capable I think we owe it to the countryside that we move to fibre wads exclusively. The exception being wild fowling, Currently there are very few options for a non plastic wad steel cartridge which has fowlers cornered. Eley have announced they have a plastic type wad that will dissolve in water in 24 hours which has now been released. For modern shooting I believe that fibre is the only option we have. Morally it makes sense to preserve the countryside and there’s little justification to argue in favour of plastic based on performance as the discrepancy between the two is hardly noticeable if at all.
Tighter chokes are more accurate.
Chokes keeps the pattern of the shot tighter for longer. The reality is if most your shooting is within 40 yards then shooting half choke is more than enough to take most birds. If you think the tighter the choke the more time it will take to develop a good sized pattern . You should be choosing chokes that are appropriate for what you’re shooting at. The pattern of a full choke at 40 yards would be comparable to a cylinder choke at 25 yards. This pattern will be about 3 ft in diameter. When shooting live quarry, you want to give yourself the best chance of a hitting the bird without overdoing it. If you’re choked full and full and pull onto a 30 yard bird with a heavy cartridge you’ll ruin the chance of eating it.
Expensive guns are better.
There doesn’t seem to be an upper limit on what you can spend on a shotgun. If budget isn’t an issue you can have whatever you like from deep bespoke engraving to matching vehicles in Holland and Hollands case. In contrast you can get some very good second hand guns for less than a thousand pounds without compromising much. Finding a gun that fits should always take precedent over the looks and visual appeal. You will get a natural feel for a gun when you pick it up. Naturally an expensive bespoke Gun will fit you perfectly but if you’re looking off the shelf you may have to do a little more searching!
As long as the barrels are straight and the gun fits there shouldn’t be any reason why an expensive gun would shoot any better. However, the draw of expensive guns tends to fulfil that desire to be unique and different. There’s no denying that to own a bespoke gun is the dream for most people who shoot, but it won’t necessarily make you a better shot!
For shooting high birds you need long barrels.
While the trend is going towards longer barrels they aren’t compulsory for high bird shooting. So why are the barrels getting longer? The benefit to long barrels is that the additional weight out front helps maintain momentum. For high bird shooting this is particularly helpful as the line isn’t as disrupted between shots. Long barrels have been popular before, and the cycle will restart. Guns will get lighter, barrels shorter and we go again! For shooting high birds worry more about your cartridge and your lead than the length of your barrels.
Shooting is just a man’s sport.
Traditionally shooting was male dominated but in recent years this has changed. More women are getting into the sport and enjoying it for a few reasons. As the gun and the cartridge do the work there is no physical advantage that men have over women if those stay the same. Build and size wont effect the way the gun shoots which means that the playing field is incredibly even. We’ve also seen that more and more women are getting introduced into game shooting. Only recently I shared a peg with a female friend of mine and she loved it! Women also make great shots. Naturally much more patient than men they pick the right bird and often shoot it at the right time. Female shots like Rachael Carrie and Amber Hill are capable of wiping the eye of anyone and competition results prove that!
Shooting clays is the same as shooting live quarry.
Shooting clays is the standard path into most shooting disciplines, over time this passion for clays often transitions into game shooting . However, the skills learnt at the clay ground don’t offer every aspect of shooting live quarry. It’s the predictability of clays that marks the difference between the two. Once you’ve shot the same stand a few times you’ll know where to shoot the clay every time. This comparison isn’t as easy for live quarry. Wild birds are just that. Once you’ve spotted a bird there’s no guarantee as to where it’s headed or if it might change direction. This is where the thrill of game shooting comes from, the unpredictability of the target and the test of skill. This marks the difference between clays and live bird shooting.
Over and Unders are better than side by sides.
For a long time Side by Sides were the only choice for game shooting. Mass production wasn’t possible for the complex side plates so the option to produce the simpler robust box lock action was the only way forward, simpler still was pairing this with an over and under configuration. The two options really serve different purposes. The snappy and elegant side by side will always be at home on a grouse more whilst for clay bashing the bulkier over and under is at home. The achilles heel for the side by side is the shorter chamber which in the world of extreme bird shooting limits your cartridge choice. The over and under isn’t better its just more versatile. If you want to do a bit of it all the over and under is the way to go.