When I unpacked the pattern plate this morning, it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to shoot all of the patterns I wanted: the roll of patterning paper was running out and I had to prioritize what I shot on the basis of answering the most interesting questions.
In the end, I shot enough patterns with the Fiocchi “GFL36” cartridge to confirm that – with around 55-75 pellets left in the pattern at 30 yards – pattern density fell far short of what is required to reliably kill wood pigeons and that it was reasonable, last weekend, to conclude that at least some of the shots I felt I was “on”, were in fact misses due to lack of pattern density. One can never tell, of course, but on the basis of today’s testing, I will never fire those cartridges at living creatures again.
I also shot enough patterns with the Hull “High Pheasant” loading to believe that it may work as an alternative to the Eley “Extralong” (#7) loading when I can’t get hold of anything else. 30-yard pattern densities for the Hull cartridge appear to be satisfactory (though those remain uncounted at this point) but the 40-yard patterns, though unsatisfactory, are on a par with what the Eley cartridge puts in the circle at the same range: the difference is that the Hull cartridge contains #6 shot, which suggests that it’s percentage performance will be relatively impressive when I’ve done the analysis. Perhaps the ultra-slow powder – whatever it is – makes a difference here.
Birds on the Floor
No, not the results of an over-exuberant evening in Liverpool, but a moral question I was encouraged to reconsider this morning.
When I started shooting, I always thought it was a bit unsporting to shoot at birds which are simply wandering around on the floor and not actually in flight.
The answer I was given to this question is that, because wood pigeons are shot under the terms of the General Licence for the purposes of crop protection (or protection of human health), it isn’t actually legal to shoot them for sporting purposes. It follows then, that if you don’t shoot the birds on the floor – because it seems unsporting – you are at risk of implying that you are shooting pigeons for sport and are therefore probably breaking the law. As such, I’ve always shot them, wherever possible, and taken them home to eat, just like all the others.
On the other hand, shooting a juvenile bird, probably not long fledged, which hadn’t seen me, even at a distance of 10 yards, was probably a little “unfair”. Then again – as I regularly remind my boy – life isn’t fair and humans are the most advanced predator in the history of the world – and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to bag a bird. Would it have been more moral to leave it? Would I have broken the law if I had? Send for Valjean!