A little about myself:
I have experienced a lot of shooting since the age of 14 mostly rabbit on my parent's estate in Somerset and particularly when they have Mix.
I have a background and interest in precision engineering and consider guns to be some of the finest examples of form following function. I wanted to be a gunsmith when leaving school. I explained this to the careers advice officer when summoned. The nearest he could get was a locksmith. Yes he really understood the difference....not.
I like all kinds of well designed tools and a weapon falls into that category more easily than most tools as the development from the earliest to the most modern is a fascinating part of man's history. I used to shoot .22 precision pistol and scored high enough to qualify for the British Pistol Club. I was then introduced to full bore pistol and travellled worldwide doing practical pistol events up until the handgun ban. The erosion of all sports that require shooting skills at Olympic and World Championship level is gradual but with without doubt continuing. If it isn't exciting for spectators then the 'committees' will consider dropping them. One such event is prone shooting.
After the handgun ban I swore that I would never compete for Britain if the opportunity ever arrived, particularly when the government decided that we could practice trigger release with a plastic handgun. Yes, apparently, that's all there is to this 'shootin lark'!
I have nothing against hunting, but I found I do struggle with the need to hunt (I don't need to) and the public perception of shooting sports related to hunting gives me cause to question it. Once you have the most beautifully balanced rifle with perfect bluing and a beautifully figured stock, I can get you 5 to 10 that the public will, if allowed a f*^'>#g referendum vote stalking and hunting out of existence. So I have inadvertently disclosed that if I had the most beautiful tool designed for a specific job, I would be daft not to use it for its intended purpose. There is no logical reason for shooting but for the purpose of sport. If the javelin, bow, foil, epee and sabre can be maintained as sporting weapons then there is a place for the rifle and handgun for its intended purpose but with targets.
I once had a beautiful Hind in my sights and a very clear shot. I couldn't shoot it. I didn't feel the need to kill such a perfect animal. I wished that I could have taken a photo of the cross-hairs and that perfect shot with a camera rifle and felt the recoil, and smelled burnt propellant. I would have had my photo trophy to hang on the wall, and that young Hind would have escaped into the woods. That was the last stalk I ever made. I do believe in deer management as the slow agonising death of starvation that results from unchecked numbers is far worse. The culling of any wildlife for the purpose of preservation of the species is a strong argument. However, the public perception of a grinning marksman even during a legal and necessary cull, destroys the good reasons in an instance. Animal lovers (or what they think they are) are a force for destroying the essence of country management and for this we can blame Walt Disney. He was the first to give animals human traits. Oh yes, even the destruction of a toy teddy bear will invoke public outcry. The emotional argument is becoming more powerful as politicians will give into it.
I now shoot small bore prone competitions with a BSA Martini International that I have modified to modern standards. The bluing is beautiful and the falling block action a crisp as the day it was first sold. It is a very accurate rifle and my scores with it are in the high nineties. But to shoot at this level means nursing that rifle very carefully as it has a two piece stock and supported barrel. Although the barrel is stiffened by the fore stock, modern techniques and a tight sling will effect accuracy. I understand that they are very sought after for bench shooting in the US with a scope...good grief! I have recently caved in and ordered a Feinwerkbau 2700 and have yet to feel the same about cold aluminium. But if I can squeeze out another 1% increase in my scores then I may grow fond of it.
At 64 my eyesight is not as good as it was but my love for shooting sports (it is not PC to say love of fine firearms) will continue until the mortician prises the the trigger from my rigor mortised hand.
Incidentally, I am emigrating to Germany where there is less namby-pambying about shooting, although even politicians in the EU don't seem to have any sphericals. However, certain German federal laws maintain regardless of EU laws. If I start up an AirBnB for hunters I will let you all know. My wife will cook venison and wild boar in Rheinische sauce but might not like bloody carcasses dragged into the kitchen (horse lover but won't eat horse meat). Is it okay to eat ugly animals like wild boar and turkey?
Auf wiedersehen meiner Freunde