Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Where Have I Been?

I'm getting bad at updating this blog, but I'm still waiting for the course of CBT, and the changes that came out of the Welfare Reform Bill have led to further deterioration in my depression. Quite often I find it difficult to do day to day things, so keeping up a blog can be difficult.

I have to say that shooting is one of very few pleasures I have in life right now, it's about 90+% of my social life, and it's one of the few things I look forwards to.

While some mental health issues may mean that some people might not be suitable firearms owners, the witch hunts by police forces in which shotgun certificates are being revoked, and guns confiscated are completely wrong. The worst effect of a policy like this is that it will lead to an increased stigma against mental illness, and it will send a message that people who shoot should not seek treatment for mental illness such as depression if they wish to keep their shotguns.

The cases that have led to the police revoking certificates have had aggravating circumstances that should have led to permanent revocation prior to the incidents. Handing shotguns back to someone with depression and a history of domestic violence is a recipe for disaster. Taking them off someone getting treatment for mild depression or anxiety is going over the top, but as is usual in this country, kneejerk reactions abound.

So what's been happening with me recently?

I now only shoot at Furness Marksmen, there is nothing wrong with Vickers Shooting Club, but a couple of things made me feel very uncomfortable there. That led to panic attacks when I tried to go on a Thursday night. I knew that forcing myself would see me stop shooting altogether so I made a difficult choice to stop going for the time being.

Furness Marksmen now opens Monday nights and all day Saturday, it's punishing for me physically, with most Sundays and Monday mornings spent in bed overdosing on TENS. The delayed winter was punishing, I haven't been that cold in years. Thermal underwear was a good buy, and I found a couple of pieces of LIFA gear tucked away at the back of a drawer which saved some money. Zippo handwarmers are the dogs bollocks, get two, they are well worth it, one in each pocket will keep your hands moving.

I'm shooting springers a lot, and I'm learning about the internals so that I can improve on them. I now have a nice little collection of them, and I'm enjoying them a lot. My only problem is that what should be a couple of hours fettling a springer to shoot nicely, takes me about a week.

So what's in my collection then? I still have the Air Arms S400 Superlite Carbine, the Ratcatcher, and the BSA XL Tactical, I now also have a Diana 280K in .177, a Hatsan 1000 Striker X in .25, a Baikal IZH MP-61, and a Daisy Red Ryder. There are also a couple of other guns on a very long term loan.

I've also got a few more pistols, I still have the Crosman 2240, Umarex Walther CP88, and El Gamo Centre, I now have a Crosman C40, Sig Sauer GSR, and a Baikal Makarov MP-654.

The Diana and the Hatsan are both very nice rifles and very different to shoot, but great fun down at the range. The Diana has a very good trigger but can be jumpy with an incorrect or inconsistent hold. The Hatsan trigger is iffy, but after fettling, it shoots like it's putting out about 4 ftlbs, and is so smooth it is ridiculous, but it doesn't half wallop the targets.

The Baikal is an oddity, designed for 10m shooting, it's only putting out sub 6 ftlbs, but I was intrigued by its five shot self indexing magazine feed, the design is ingenious. The side lever action is very light and easy to use, so perfect for me. If you really pay attention then you can put pellet on pellet with this gun.

The Daisy Red Ryder, while a child's BB gun, proves that if you enjoy shooting, it doesn't matter what you shoot. I can drop 600+ BBs into the gun and sit in my back yard plinking away without having to worry about reloading, or bringing in pellets, targets, and everything else when I finish.

All I need now is a .20 for a full set of springers, the Webley Valuemax is favourite as it's basically a Hatsan Striker, so it should be very easy to work on, and at about £100, it's affordable. I just don't like the name, so I think I'll start calling it a Webley Striker.

Just because I have a number of guns doesn't make me a nutter, or a homicidal maniac. I like variation in what I shoot as it keeps me thinking, what hold over or under do I need at various ranges with different calibres, what's the effect of wind with different calibres, can I improve this trigger, or what changes do I need to make to my technique to improve my shooting. All of these things keep my mind active and thinking, they help me improve on my knowledge and experience, which is a good thing.

I'll throw up a picture post in the next couple of days, but for now I'm all blogged out.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Knife Reviews

I knew there was a post I hadn't done.

I'd decided that I would get myself a practical present this year, normally I treat myself to a couple of DVDs and some new music, after a couple of days on the range prior to xmas I decided that I could do with two knives. One would be a knife that I could stick in the pocket of my jeans without upsetting the police if they ever had reason for a chat with me, the other would be more substantial and able to lop off branches from a tree if needs be.

With some help, and much time perusing the pages of the Heinnie Haynes website, I chose the Condor Bushlore and the Svord Peasant Knife. I understand that with so many people making knives you have to stand out, it's just that so many designs are going way over the top in my opinion. I like a knife that looks like someone made it by hand.

The Condor Bushlore

 With a nice simple sheath and a plain wooden handle, this knife simply states that it's there to work and not be admired for fancy CNC machining. The sheath is simple, but well made out of good materials.

 At five inches the handle is solid, long enough for all but the biggest hands, and provides a comfortable and secure grip. Being wood, fettling it's shape for your own hands is easily done. Condor don't specify the wood type, only that it's a hard wood from Central America

The high carbon steel, full tang blade, is 4 inches long and fairly thick, the bead blasted finish is nice and unassuming. It is heavy enough to use for chopping, but not too heavy to use for finer work. In some ways I think it is what the MoD Survival Knife would have been, if issued on a personal basis.

A nice heavy leather sheath finishes the package off perfectly. Well constructed from 4mm thick leather, touches such as adding a sacrificial strip in the joint to protect the stitching, and a decently sized, well stitched, belt loop, show quality without being showy. The sheath grips the knife tightly enough that you know it won't fall out, without making it difficult to remove.

The knife comes in a solid cardboard box with a small booklet/catalogue and a blade care leaflet. At a cost of £31.95 I think you get a lot of knife for not a lot of money.

The Svord Peasant Knife

Available only to first class Peasants, are you good enough?! (From the packaging)

I hope I'm good enough. I bought this knife thinking it would be suitable to put in the pocket of my jeans every day without having to worry about breaking the law, as the description says that the blade is three inches. Unfortunately Svord are generous and the blade is a tad longer.

 This is a very simple knife made of just six pieces, two wooden scales, two pillar screws, a stop pin, and the blade. No springs, locks, liners, and the handle is slightly rough, but there seems to be an expectation from Svord that you're going to fettle the handle and make it your own. 

 I like the unfinished parts of the blade, without trying to get mystical it speaks to me, as if it is telling me what the maker thinks is important, the bevel and the edge. I like that.

I'm still not sure about the shape of the handle at the end, I'm very tempted to take out that ridge and round it all off.

That is a very very generous 3" blade, while I like getting my moneys worth it doesn't help if the police ask questions.

From the other side showing more of the unfinished metal.

There is a lot to like about this knife, its simplicity, good materials, an honesty in its construction that says I'm a tool not a toy, and the lateral thinking that has gone into the design. The two screws don't have to be absolutely tight, as the knife is fully closed or opened, the metal sliding in between the scales tightens everything up, while the stop pin does as its name suggests and stops the blade opening too far. I wasn't sure about that partial tang being, a, uncomfortable, or, b, useless at stopping the knife closing on your fingers. From the use it's had so far I think was wrong on both counts.

I think this will be a marmite knife, one you either love or hate, I love it, enough to be thinking about getting the mini version so I can carry it all the time.

Shooting Snobs And Other Annoyances

Yeah, that title could probably do with punctuation, but I like it as it is ;-) So no, I'm not talking about shooting the snobs and the other annoyances.

One of the things that is really starting to rile me up are the snobs in air gun shooting, these are the people who think that you must buy a Weihrauch or Air Arms, or those who write off decent guns based on trying one years ago. Some seem to forget that not everyone can afford £400+ for an air gun, or that £300 for a second hand gun may be out of reach as well. Yet there are many guns at lower prices that are just as accurate and well made, and will give someone their shooting fix for far less money.

Many of these people seem to be unable to comprehend basic english, When someone says I have £150 for a gun and scope, the snobs ignore them, as if just by their typing of the words "save up", someone will be able to. It doesn't work like that, the £150 might have been a gift from a family member to someone who doesn't have the disposable income to save at all, who knows, but you don't tell someone their budget isn't enough, that's like saying to someone, "you aren't good enough to take part in my sport." If you read this and feel stung by this, think how the person on the receiving end of your sage advice feels, now go away and listen to people talking about cheaper guns, so that you can help out people who may not be as well off as you.

Then there are the experts whose information is well out of date and based solely on their own opinion. All too often I read comments such as, "I tried one about five years ago, the trigger was crap." Well isn't that helpful? Yeah really... I've had people telling me that my XL Tacticool has a terrible trigger, regardless of them never having tried it, I've also been told that its recoil will break my scope within 50 shots, hmm, well over 1200 now and still doing well. Some experts...

These experts need to learn that the manufacturers do change things, make improvements, and test new ideas, and that the manufacturers are not going to personally consult with them over each and every change, because they are the last people they are concerned about. Unfortunately many of these experts are so hidebound in their thinking that it takes someone they regard as an expert to say something before their attitude will change, and even then they will still trot out their outdated experience as a qualifier.

(breathe... relax... count to 10... 50... 1000...)

Okay, onwards and... well, wherever..

There are two words that are currently the bane of my sanity, I have seen so much bollocks written on the subject that I tend to just want to scream.

Hold Sensitive


To read the descriptions of how some people think they have to hold their guns makes you wonder when they will start sprinkling fairy dust over them. The reality comes down to the marksmanship principles.

a. The Position and hold must be firm enough to support the weapon.

b. The weapon must point naturally at the target without any undue physical effort.

c. Sight alignment and the sight picture must be correct.

d. The shot must be released and followed through without undue disturbance to the position.

Many people don't have a clue about them, let alone how to apply them, and they come out with excuses such as, "air guns recoil differently to other guns". That is bollocks, it is an excuse. If you are in a comfortable, relaxed position, the gun is pointing naturally at the target with out you pushing it, and you position your finger on the trigger so that it moves along the axis of the gun as you squeeze it, then hold sensitivity goes out of the window. Many of these people will use a rest of some sort to zero their sights, if you can't zero a gun without just resting on your elbows on a table or bench, how do you expect to aim well enough to shoot it accurately?

It's just like the old cliché about not being able to shoot accurately off a bi-pod with a springer due to recoil, more bollocks, I've watched someone do it. There again I've also had the experience of shooting a few powder burning guns using a bi-pod, and doing it accurately. There are techniques to it, but it isn't difficult. Some of these people should try firing a .5 browning on full automatic while it is tripod mounted. Now that is recoil, and yet it is accurate.

I think that is my spleen well and truly vented for now, hopefully I can write something more uplifting soon. Yes I have been selling things I don't need on ebay again, and yes I have got another gun in mind :-D

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Pellets and Patriotism

So, I bought myself a springer. I know, what was I thinking? It's a BSA! I know, what was I thinking?

I must have read all the bad reports, right? I must have known that "everyone" thinks the Lightning is crap, right?


BSA Supersport SE

Here's the thing, I was trying to decide between a Weihrauch HW99s and a BSA Supersport SE, because I wanted to try shooting a lightweight .22 springer. The problem was that I didn't like the shape of the woodwork on the HW99, it didn't fit me. The problem with the Supersport was that I thought the woodwork looked like two people had worked on it, the finish looked terrible.

BSA XL Tactical
I noticed there was a BSA XL Tactical sat in the rack so I had a look. I liked the stock and that it was ambidextrous. The blueing looked excellent. The trigger felt good. The gun felt well balanced and light enough for me. I also liked the look of the scope rail, nice and secure, with a stop pin and extra holes for adjustment (I'll come back to this later).

Then I noticed that the other side of the scope rail has a union flag and the words "Made in Birmingham, England". I am a patriotic person, in the main I'm proud of my country. But, being honest I knew there had been many mixed reviews, though some written by allegedly more knowledgeable people had been pretty good.

What clinched it for me, I think, was seeing "Birmingham, England" on the scope rail. All too often we talk about being British, but can you imagine if BMW stopped saying they were German and instead said European? There was a part of me wanted to support a manufacturer bringing work back to England.

The journey home by train was annoying, awkward, and extremely painful, but worth it.

Now, the scope rail, it's 14mm, and yes that's annoying, I've had to zero, rezero and rezero again as I tried different scopes and mounts. If you are tempted to buy one of these after reading all of this post, just go and get the proper adjustable one piece mount that BSA sells. Read the instructions before touching the mount, then read them again. Then re-centre the reticle in your scope before you even start. Is it a pain in the arse to set up? YES! But, is it worth it, definitely...

My first impressions at the range were okay and I put down the slight inaccuracies to dieseling and my own failures, that was using Accupells and Wasps. By about 500 pellets I was becoming a little disheartened, the new scope mount helped, I thought I was doing better, but it wasn't right. A change to H&N FTTs improved things slightly and they proved to be consistent over the chrono, but I was noticing more failings of my own in failing to follow the marksmanship principles. Then I tried Bisley Superfield pellets, what a change.

With the Superfield pellets I started getting consistent accuracy, I knew the flyers before they hit the target and that gave me confidence. It also allowed me to work on my own technique, especially the position and hold. I'm also trying other pellets, I don't want to be stuck with one type and be unable to shoot this gun if the local shop has none in stock. So far I've found that it also likes Air Arms Diabolo Field in 5.51 calibre and they give exactly the same POI as the lighter Superfields, and that Umarex Domed Smooth pellets at 12.8 grns give a far flatter trajectory, but still suit the gun.

I'm also wondering how many people have tried various guns with just the one type of pellet they always buy and have then written them off as inaccurate, "couldn't hit the side of a barn from the inside" and various other expressions spring to mind. There are so many variables when it comes to pellets that even different batches of the same one will cause problems. I also think there is a snobbery around pellets, I know of expensive guns that love Bulldog and Marksman pellets, and cheap guns that like Air Arms.

Last night I was consistently hitting lumps of chalk at 30 yards, and the effect was great, then I found I could hit the shards that came off them. Okay, I missed now and again, but I'm not too proud to admit that the misses were down to me.

Just got to get that hold right every time....

Life? Don't Talk To Me About Life...

So I've been a bit marvin, not Hank as in Hank Marvin = Starving, more Marvin the paranoid android from HHG2TG.

For the past few months I have really been struggling with depression, and I still am, but I'm hoping to be getting a course of CBT, or cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help me deal with it. I have still been shooting, but for some reason I dropped going to the indoor club and have been concentrating on shooting outdoors with Furness Marksmen.

My next post is going to be covering one of the issues that I've come up against recently. Hopefully it will be up later today.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Project Ratcatcher

I remember seeing my first Crosman 2250/Ratcatcher many years ago and thinking it looked kind of cool. There again, it was probably about the time of the Sussex Armoury Jackal, which I desperately wanted.

I finally got my Ratcatcher a few weeks ago and started trying to decide what I wanted to do with it. Obviously a steel breech and scope are priority items, so it was GMAC for the breech and from J.S. Ramsbottom I picked the Leapers Bugbuster for the scope, it is a 3-9x32 AO IR mini scope that will adjust for parallax down to 3 metres. It fits the Ratcatcher perfectly. I also picked up a brass barrel band that incorporates a sling swivel and dovetails from GMAC.

I had been shooting the gun in my yard but the noise was terrible, so I invested in a Webley QGS moderator, it's quite bulky but very well made, machined from aluminium and can be stripped for cleaning. It works, extremely well.

The final piece of the puzzle arrived yesterday in the form of a bipod, again from J.S. Ramsbottom, I went for a swivel version, because that's what I was used to with the LSW. The problem was that the stud placement for the sling swivel didn't work. I headed off for B&Q for a few bits and pieces, started faffing about and I still wasn't happy. Then it hit me, put the stud into the fore stock.

As you can see below, it worked. I have found another couple of issues that I will need to solve, but they can wait for now, until I decide on how I want the gun to look.

I had been thinking of putting a longer barrel on, maybe 18", but I think that would be overkill, it's perfectly accurate now and surprisingly well balanced, I don't think there's any need for it. Aesthetically, I'm tempted by the idea of a few bits of brass bling, changing the plastic furniture for wood, and I may add a trigger kit for functionality. As with my 2240, I'm leaning towards a full strip down and repainting for a uniform black finish on the majority of the gun.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Missing The Ranges

I had to have a fairly minor operation a couple of weeks ago so I've not been to either of the clubs, and I'm missing the socialising and time out of the house. But, that doesn't mean there's been no shooting, or shooting related fun.

First off, I managed to get a secondhand El Gamo Centre .177 pistol for a reasonable price. It's in relatively good condition and pretty powerful. The sights are pretty good and I'm enjoying the challenge of shooting it.

Hardly an Olympic standard set up, but my shower stool is behind the wheely bin, and I rest on the bin.

There's about 30 shots in this 17cm target, I'm not quite at Olympic standard in shooting either. The target holder is very good, nice and solid and it's taken a hammering. My shots keep going left, so I think that is an issue with me, not the gun or sights.

I also had fun with my other pistols, A Umarex Walther CP-88 and a Crosman C40.

 Cowboy time, I know, shots everywhere, but lots of fun, that's one CO2 powerlet and the rest of the .177 Wasps.

I put something like 150 shots through this target, not bad considering it's one CO2 powerlet and the pellets were terrible, .177 Wasps.

I also have a Crosman 2250b Ratcatcher I'm modifying, so far just a steel breech, barrel band that will allow me to fix a bipod to it, and a Leapers 3-9x32 IR AO Bug Blaster mini scope that I have to say is superb. It will allow you to adjust the objective lens so that you can shoot down to three metres.

I will post pictures of it as soon as I get the bipod sorted, really can't decide what I need.

Even in its present state the Ratcatcher will put pellet on pellet at 7m and I really do mean pellet on pellet.

At the moment I'm planning on being back at the range on Thursday, plenty of time to finish healing, and I can make do with back yard plinking until then.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Aurora Shooting

I have stayed away from much of the reporting of this tragic event. The snippets I have seen were all too predictable in their content. The inevitable portrayal of a troubled person, along with descriptors such as, "crazy", or, "madman".

The only thing that is clear at the moment, is that a young man decided to walk into a cinema and kill people using a firearm.

While many talking heads will discuss what the correct response is, I doubt many, if any, of them will come up with a good solution, let alone the right one. The root of the problem is, as always, society, the young man who carried out the attack is a product of it. Whether America chooses to address that remains to be seen.

Hitting A Bottleneck

I've found recently that I've had too much to say, who'd a thunk it? Consequently, every time I've tried to write, I've mangled what I wanted to say. I'm going to try to write a quick catch up post now , and then I'm going to start another blog that won't have a specific focus. Let's see if it helps.

Shooting and Autism

A couple of weeks ago Vickers Shooting Club opened on a Friday night, there were supposed to be visitors coming along. The visitors cancelled, but it still opened, and young man who is autistic, together with his mother and brother, came along.

I am going to use the "I" word now, it was inspiring, to see a mother make sure her son has every possible opportunity to explore what life has to offer. And to see her explain clearly, and with no trace of negativity, some of the challenges that can arise. She was proud of both of her sons, and so she should be. Was the son with autism inspiring? not really, just another young man who really enjoyed shooting guns, and trying to get the best score possible. Though I do give him plus points for preferring the bolt action rifle.

Tremors At The Club

I'm not privy to exactly what happened at Furness Marksmen, I've heard plenty of rumours, and I heard most of the chat we had from one of the committee members. Some people are treating it like an earthquake, others as if nothing happened. Some people have tried to gain an advantage, others are stepping back and thinking.

I haven't been able to form an opinion myself yet, but if I take just 50% of what I've been told at face value, I would say, I'm disappointed.

I think disabled people who have enjoyed Saturday mornings may find that they lose out to a degree with the increased focus on HFT. Having said that, last nights new session was a lot of fun. I even managed to win one round of the impromptu competition.Though the people who bailed just before we started cleaning up hacked me off. I'm really suffering today after doing what I could to set up and take down the targets. If I can do something that costs me a lot of pain, you can do at least as much when it costs you nothing.

Backyard Plinking

This is going to bankrupt me, I got a second hand Crosman 2250b Ratcatcher for a plinking rifle, and a second hand El Gamo Centre pistol, which is more of a target pistol. That doesn't even touch the cost of pellets, CO2, or sorting out a bigger backstop now. I'll sort out pictures whenever we get better weather up here, we haven't got the sunshine.


The last thing I want to say right now is a huge "Good Luck!" to all the Olympic Shooters. The games start on Friday and I hope they do well. I'll be watching all the shooting and cheering you on. I haven't forgotten the Paralympic shooters, they will get a shout out closer to the time.

Shooting With A Disability And Diabetes

I wanted to bring this up separately after last night. After three months with no real problems other than noting low blood sugar after a range session, I got caught out. For the first time I went shooting without glucotabs, or a meter, in my gunbag. What a stupid mistake.

I did way too much physically, and I mistook the clues that point to a hypo for pain and discomfort from doing too much. Only the liberal application of Polo mints staved off the hypo.

If you are diabetic, always take your meter and glucotabs to the range.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Time For A Catch Up

I'll start by saying that I finished my 2240 as far as new parts go. It now looks like....

The final list of upgrades are:
  • 3" Muzzle brake from SD Custom Designs
  • 2x32 Rhino pistol scope and Medium Hawke mounts from BAR
  • Left hand steel breech with extended hollow probe from GMac Custom
  • Stainless steel caps and safety button from SD Custom Designs
  • Mark 2a trigger kit from GMac
  • Grips from SD 
  • Hex screws from Gmac
  • .22 lr case for a hammer spring guide.
I tried the stronger hammer spring and found it to be too strong making the trigger rough and accuracy terrible, as well as reducing the number of shots from a 12gm CO2 powerlet.

I'm also hoping to have an aluminium set of grips on the way soon, but if they don't pan out I'll stick with it as it is.

In its current state the pistol is very accurate out to as far as 30 yards, at 20 yards I can get groups like you can see below. I'm finding Bisley Practice give very good results.

After my birthday just over a week ago, I decided to treat myself to an air pistol for backyard plinking with the cash I was very kindly given.

Yesterday, after much indecision, I bought myself an Umarex Walther CP88.I'd initially been very taken by the Colt Government 1911 A1 by Umarex, but it wasn't as good in the hand. So I came home with this baby and extra mags.

It is a very well made pistol that is a lot of fun to shoot in the back yard. As you can see in the video below. It's pretty damn accurate and I'm now getting the hang of just shooting eight rounds at a time. The probe is something I had lying around, useful for seating the pellets you can see in this picture, but I've found that Webley Accupel are much better.


And here are some arty pictures from today.




From left to right, Bisley Practice .22, Wasp .22, RWS Super H Point .177, Webley Accupel .177

I haven't been neglecting my rifle and I did achieve an aim, ten shots at 20 yards that can be covered by a 5p piece. 


 Not Just once

But twice

So overall, from a shooting point of view it's been pretty good, I have had to miss another range session thanks to pain, but that is to be expected. What I plan to do over the coming weeks is organise a proper backyard range. While it's all well and good shooting into a backstop filled with sand, it is messy and awkward. There is also the issue of getting my nephew shooting, I'd like something more suitable, just in case.