Thursday, 6 April 2017




Back in the 1990’s I was a pistol shooter, and I would like to think that I was starting to get the hang of it, I had won most of my clubs competitions, and I had won some laurel leaves at Bisleys Anno Domini meeting.  I was beginning to think that I had found a sport that I could excel at, I had the right equipment for the job, and my home loads were more accurate than I could ever hope to be.  In short I had no excuses for poor marksmanship, only human error.  The type of pistol shooting I did best at, were the police and service pistol events, I had a love of Police Pistol 1, as it was an event that our local club could put on, and I practiced it regularly.

I had purchased a Smith and Wesson .357magnum, not the standard model 686 but a Wilson Match Master, from the Smith and Wesson custom shop.  I found it heavy at first and my shooting skills went backwards, but after a week or two with an aching back from holding it at arms length, I started to see the benefit of the custom shops job.  A new holster rig from King leather and a bunch of Jet loaders and I set to make my mark on the target shooting world, or so I thought.

Then on March 13th 1996 Thomas Hamilton shocked the world when he went on a killing spree in Dunblain, the repercussions for us law abiding pistol shooter’s were, a ban on hand gun ownership and notice to hand them in at police stations.  We were supposed to be reimbursed for the loss of our property, but the sums offered never came close to the real value of the items, and what about the loss of our sport, no monetary sum could ever compensate for that.  It was a black time for all shooting sports in the UK, with the press having a field day, printing libellous articles that implicated all pistol shooter’s as no better than Hamilton.

The knock on effect’s of the ban for me personally were, an increase in spare time and money, as pistol shooting had been a drain on both these resources, in trying to ‘make it’ I’d not skimped on equipment or practice, which had left precious little spare time or money, and what bit I could gather together I used up on all to infrequent deer stalking trips.  But now I had both, and a huge void in my life where pistol shooting had been, I needed another interest to replace what I had lost, at first I considered purchasing a carbine rifle, which could still be used on our clubs pistol range, but I couldn’t drum up enough enthusiasm so the carbine idea never came to anything, I considered black powder pistols, which are still legal, but they weren’t for me either.  The one passion I did have and one that I felt I would like to do more of was deer stalking, I booked more trips to Scotland and took roe deer and my first red deer.  This was the start of big game hunting for me, something I still do and still enjoy, although I am on a budget, and only get normal factory holidays I try to make the most of what time and money I have.

The secret to a good hunt is to do your home work, once you have made your mind up as to which species you want, start by reading magazine articles, or go on the internet, collect as much information as you can.  When you have a list of perspective outfitters or stalkers shortlist them, you could start by getting rid of the one’s out side your price range.  You will find that no matter what species of animal you want to hunt, there will be a huge spectrum of prices, and it doesn’t matter if you are looking at hunts in the UK the USA or in Africa.  My dream destination ever since I was a small child, had always been Africa, and now with the compensation money from my pistols I had the chance to go.

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