A Change of Direction

It’s said that having children changes your life completely, but I suppose I hadn’t really registered that until my second daughter – our third overall – arrived last February.

To some degree, that’s a testament to how supportive my wife is of my hobbies: I haven’t been expected to give them up or necessarily cut back on shooting and countryside adventures to any great degree. To her credit, I think she realized early on in our marriage how important the open air and a certain amount of solitude are to me and she hasn’t wanted to stand in the way of that, for which I’m grateful.

Nonetheless, the addition of “a third” – as all of my friends and acquaintances (having precisely two children each)  were quick to warn me when they suspected another might be in the offing – has been more of an upheaval than on the first two occasions we welcomed a new family member.

Furthermore, one consequence of the promotion I received earlier this year is that the requirement for international travel has inserted itself into my job description. I’d tried to avoid that for a long as possible, but it became impossible to refuse at my new level of responsibility. By itself, being away from home wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but at this particular moment, it acts as an extra pressure on time and relationships which needs to be dealt with sensitively.

Returning to the subject at hand: as previous posts have no doubt described, my willingness to get out and pattern more .410 cartridges undoubtedly remains, but the energy, the money the time and – to be honest – the motivation have been somewhat lacking lately. This is undoubtedly connected to a degree of long-term fatigue rather than short-term tiredness.

In spite of the current situation, I have been trying my best to reconnect with all of my interests, both shooting-related and otherwise, but it feels like a fight that I am struggling win at the moment.

For that reason, I’m obliged to lighten my load, so to speak. I’ve done a little shooting over the summer, but it hasn’t been anything like so much as last year: always a snatched hour on a Sunday morning, or a few minutes standing in the grounds of one of my relatives’ properties trying to bag a bunny or a brace of woodies. Not once have I set up a pattern plate and whiled away the hours – there just hasn’t been the opportunity.

Likewise, in other spheres of life, I’ve delayed projects I was intending to start or stepped back from taking as much responsibility for this and that as I have in the past, with the intention of returning to them later when I have more time. To look after one’s family and one’s interests, one has to look after oneself a little too and that means prioritizing the time I do have toward the things which are most rejuvenating.

I’ve dithered for a long while about whether to abandon this blog or whether to try and persist with the pattern testing and analysis in spite of having hardly any time for it, but the best solution I can come up with is to do neither. There is too much – I believe – of value here (at least to me) to arbitrarily delete it from the internet, so I’ve decided to embrace a temporary change of direction, whilst remaining “small bore focused”.

I’ve spoken previously of my hope and wish to renovate and restore the 9mm test gun we’ve used for the site, bringing it back to a more “polished” state by re-bluing and renovating the metalwork. I’m also aware that regular but uninteresting tales of my walks in the countryside may satisfy the word count, but probably not the readership.

Thus, for a short time, the renovation of the garden gun, which I’ve tentatively started today, will become the subject of this blog. More suited to the monthly / bi-monthly updates that I can manage, it seems a good long-term project to document without requiring quite as much effort (or as much regular shooting) as blogging about patterning or, dare I say, countryside walks.

Of course, I’m singularly unqualified for this kind of thing, having no real skill in shaping wood or working metal, but I will do my best to not only clean up the metalwork, remove the rust of 85 years and re-blue it, but also to restock it, assuming I’m able to acquire the appropriate tools and materials. Undoubtedly, I’ll end up spending ten times the amount the gun is worth on doing it and most likely ruin it in the process, but it’ll be fun and if I end up with a shiny new garden gun that I and my boy can shoot from time to time, as we’ve enjoyed doing over the summer, so much the better.

In fact, I took it to bits and cut out a template for the new stock earlier, incorporating a longer stock and slightly higher comb using one of my better-fitting guns as a guide. Tomorrow, I’ll be ordering some blue and rust remover and beginning my search for a hunk of walnut that I can cut into the requisite shape to begin work.

Some pictures:

The Modern Arms 9mm garden gun belonging to The Hedgewalker in deconstructed form after initial examination, prior to refurbishment.
The trigger mechanism of the garden gun in deconstructed form.
A new stock template to be applied to a walnut blank for eventual fitting to the garden gun.