As some of you may have seen from Stratts’ thread that Ididn’t mean to hijack, last week I bought what would seem to be a beautiful J.P. Sauer drilling in 16 bore and 7x57R (http://www.egun.de/market/item.php?id=4969495),and pretty much for a song too. Actually, given that I’m buying it with theproceeds of the sale of my ‘fowling piece, it was free. But the point is thatthis is much more to me than the acquisition of a really great item. Becausethe background is that a couple of years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, arather younger Pine Marten used to draw cross-sections of drilling barrels inthe margins of his exercise books at school. There were other drawings, it wasn’tthe only theme, but it was there in the various symbols of things I’d rather bedoing than sitting in classrooms over twenty years ago.
The thing is that back then, I knew I wanted to be a hunter,but I had no means at all of realising this ambition. I fell back on readingall the books and magazines that I could on the topic, a habit that I nevershook off partly because I still can’t actually go shooting anything like asmuch as I want to so still need that vicarious thrill, and of course spent alot of time poring over the kit sections. Many years before I went anywherenear a rifle, I had a pretty vast theoretical knowledge of sporting guns,calibres, legislation (on both sides of the Channel), safety practices,relevant zoology and techniques, etc. all of it gloriously unencumbered up byalmost any experience at all.
And one of the things I settled on all those years ago wasthat one day, I wanted a drilling. Obviously I knew all the models andmanufacturers (it’s a short list), prices, cartridges, had the catalogues andbrochures, but of course no money and no opportunity to use such an item. Evenas things moved on little by little and I slowly, bit by bit managed to realisesome of my ambitions, helped along in no small part by Sir Tim Berners-Lee’sinvention of a means to contact others like me, the drilling remained a daydreamingtopic. It didn’t really make sense as a sole gun, and anyway they were rare andexpensive. No-one sells them here, and a new one costs a fortune to import.They costsa fortune even if you livenext door to the factory!
But then I discovered eGun.de, and it occurred to me thatmost of the drillings in the world are probably in Germany, that there’s a sizeablesecond-hand market, and that no-one wants 16 bore shotguns or 7x57R rifles. Andbehold, I was right: that specification of drilling was coming up with someregularity for sale and selling for a tenth of the new price. Such are thevagaries of fashion! So the somewhat reluctant sale my wildfowling gun becauseI just didn’t need it anymore became an opportunity to realise a twentyyear-old dream, which is now only a few pesky forms away from my grasp.
As you may also know, I have never yet shot a roe buck. I’vetried, but they didn’t feel like giving themselves up. Now I wonder whether maybethe Cosmos means for me to do this with the drilling, because the buck isn’tdestined for the current Pine Marten, but rather for that boy drawing dreams ofescape during lessons. I hope so. It would be an elegant narrative for if Iever needed to write that story.