Holiday Reading

I took a few days off this week to rest and recuperate from a long period of high-intensity work (in employment terms) and a good deal of work on this and other websites which has occupied me for the last month or two.

In my free time (i.e. that not occupied by helping out with the necessities of daily living) I’ve been reading Gough Thomas’s Shotguns & Cartridges for Game and Clays which, although it was not revelatory did confirm some of my long-held thinking about historical practice and the reasons for it.

I’ve talked in the past about traditional black powder loads and it was interesting to finally find documented confirmation of the traditional black powder loads in tabular form. For example, the traditional 12 gauge load of 3¼ drams of powder and 1¼oz of shot giving 1050fps at the muzzle and the possibility of reducing both for lighter loads confirmed my suspicions that, in the time of Edward VII, 900fps was a perfectly ordinary velocity for cartridges. Not for the Edwardians, this 1500fps nonsense.

More interestingly (and further from my own experience) was the record of what was, until relatively recently, considered the “standard” wood pigeon load: 36g of #7 shot. This was given in comparison to the “standard” pheasant load of 30g of #6, which emphasised the degree to which our forebears considered pattern density essential for the poor man’s grouse. I intend to load some cartridges of exactly that specification in the near future and pattern them as an historical experiment.

Apart from the above, most of Gough Thomas’ conclusions were as expected. It was a rare treat to get the chance to read a book from cover to cover, however, and even better in view of the subject matter.