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New Forum member and a returning shooter after a 25 year absence

Discussion in 'Introduce yourself' started by Andy Wales, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. Andy Wales

    Andy Wales Donator

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    Hi All,
    Just wanted to say hello, glad I found this great forum and to tell you a bit about my shooting past and now present experiences. Might make an interesting read and may amuse you a bit too! Sorry but it's a long story, therefore a long read/post so some may want to skip/skim through this one, but I believe a good story ought to be told properly :)
    I started out like many here I guess at around 10 years old by going out with one or two friends who, let's say had very "easy going parents" and allowed them to shoot with a "Gat" Air handgun, a .177 and a .22 Air Rifle mostly in a very long and large garden at targets, but also we used to just simply go off to any woodland area, common land etc as and whenever we felt like it. It was 1974, times were simpler back then and although shooting on Private/Common land and any "Public Access" areas were forbidden even back then, we just thought, meh, we'll do it anyway. We were just kids, what did we know about adult rules and such things lol. I well remember having to do a "runner" from many a farmers' fields with a red faced puffing, out of breath and very angry Farmer running after us in his "wellies" or chasing us in his clapped out 1960's vintage LandRover too old to catch us lol. My parents weren't really strict but no way would I have been allowed to shoot a gun let alone own one. If only they had known they would have killed me :)
    Anyway, that carried on until we got to about 12-13 yrs old and we of course discovered girls and shooting just didn't seem fun anymore, (Should have stuck to shooting instead ad left the women alone, but I digress lol). Roll on 1980, school days are over and I'm now 16 and starting my first job. First job happens to be with a local Farm Supplies Company as the store man who just happened to be a licenced gun dealer too (an RFD these days I guess?). I was there almost 4 years. 17th Birthday, test passed, told I was now the store man/Farm Delivery driver. I got upgraded :D Company had literally hundreds of Farmers/Landowners/you name it on their books out to a radius of maybe 50 miles from where I live.
    Owners son says to me one day Andy, you've been here a year now, seen all the guns, cartridges, bullets etc we sell and now you deliver them for us as well, have you no interest in shooting? (I should mention that from about 11 to maybe 25 yrs old I was a regular keen fisherman and used to do a LOT of Fly fishing, spinning/bait fishing and later a lot of Costal/boat/night Sea fishing so never really thought about shooting or had time). He said your 17 now, why not put in for your shotgun licence, buy a cheap single barrel 12 bore from us to start you off and you can come shooting with me and my father? (Can you imagine the access this guy had? They were um, loaded, rented lake/ Prime woodland areas where you could Duck shoot, woodcock, Hares, Rabbits etc), so I thought well, I don't do as much fishing as I used to so heck, why not let's try something new? Applied and got my shotgun licence, bought an old single barrel BSA 12 bore from my employer, (a little worn and rough but still shot superbly) and off I went back to a bit of land where there were tons of rabbits and hares (no longer :( ) but never took the shotgun on Private land without permission that would have been asking for serious trouble.
    I was on my own and had never shot a 12 bore in my life before so I gripped it tightly to my shoulder, made sure the area was safe in front of me and feeling really nervous, I gently pulled back the trigger. BOOM!! I almost crapped myself with the jolt of the gun and the deafening noise and although it was exciting I thought I'm not sure I've done the right thing getting into this! But I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. The farms I used to deliver to got to know and trust me really well and getting permission back then was so easy for me it was funny. In fact, in no time at all I had to stop asking as I had too many on the go and farmers I knew really well would PHONE ME up and ask why they hadn't seen me for days, weeks or months. (If only they knew as a 10 year old farmers were chasing me and my mates off their property lol). I ended up shooting many, many rabbits, hares, wood pigeons and Pest species with that old BSA! and got good enough at it I then bought a really nice near new Baikal over and under 12 bore. Shot quite a few rabbits etc with that too but soon got fed up of carrying it around all day when out in the field as that thing weighed more like a Russian TANK than a Russian made gun!
    So I was out at a gun shop one day buying some cartridges when I spotted a beautiful looking shotgun in the glass display case. Owner of shop see's me looking and he says, Spanish made mate, beautiful markings on the stock and metalwork, a real beauty, 20 bore side by side and light enough to carry all day long, £320 quid to you as I see you in here often. I said it looks a bit small I didn't realise you sold kids popguns lol. He said trust me mate, that ain't no popgun and is well capable and has not much less range than a 12. I have to say that I've always done things on a budget haha! I only paid £20 for that old BSA in 1981 and £100 for the near new Baikal in 1982 so I said £320 quid? I'll give you £200 so he says £225 and for that I'm giving it away lol. I said let's have a look. Shouldered it and thought wow, this is ultra light compared to the Baikal, much more class, and to be honest It was love at first sight, (or feel, or something like that) so I said throw in a couple of boxes of 20 bore carts to get me started and I'll give you your £225 quid. He says you're going to put me out of business mate but, go on then, it's a deal :D Turned out to be the finest little shotgun I ever owned and old mates who would come along now and then with their 12's used to laugh at it and say you'll be lucky to get close enough to a rabbit to get any lead near it with that Andy. Well, after half a day, they wanted to go home because their arms were falling off and I was still going strong with quite a number of despatched rabbits etc behind me they never used to "mock" my little 20 after that :) I loved that 20 and then I went and got involved with women again lol, sold the lot, let my licence expire and never renewed it since. I was in my early 20's by then I think.
    Roll on 25+ years to 2013 and my father calls in here one night and says out of the blue, I've just bought a .22 Air Rifle! I said Dad, you've never shot an Air rifle in your life as far as I know? (He's 79 this year). He said I have years ago and a neighbour of mine bought one and I went along and had a few shots and thought I like this I'm getting one! So I said been there done that got the t-shirt etc and no, I'm not joining you forget it and no more was said. Roll on to 2014.
    A few weeks ago my father was here and I said I never hear you mention your Air rifle shooting anymore and he says nah, I haven't been for months but I've still got the gun. I said you got bored with it? He said no, not at all, I really enjoyed it but the neighbour turned out to be a bit of a knob so I stopped going ages ago lol. I said oh well never mind at we left it at that.
    Last Wednesday night I'm sitting here bored out of my mind (Been with my girlfriend for years but we like our own space so will never live together as it suits us both....I hear the whispers of admiration in my direction from some of you lol). So I just go and type Air Rifles into Google and that led to reading a lot about them, which then led to watching them on YouTube and before I knew it I was here at this great site trying to catch up on 25+ years of changes to Air Rifle law, (I'm done with shotguns) and changes to the Air Rifle technology itself! I thought PCP, what's a dangerous drug got to do with shooting lol. I thought get away from this site right now or you just know you're going to buy one lol. Of course as an ex shooter I couldn't. I was hooked again darnit!! So I then had to decide .177, .20 (Nearly did) or old faithful .22? How much to spend, what make and all the rest of it (I always carefully study and review everything before I buy). So I started reading all the excellent views, opinions, arguments and comments on this site and decided to buy a budget .22 to start in case for some odd reason I didn't still like the sport anymore. After much reading most of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning of last week, I narrowed it down to a few budget .22 Rifles as follows. HatSan Mod 60s, SMK XS 19, Hammerli 550 Seeker Scope and Suppressor included, Webley (Forgotten model but budget model) and maybe 2-3 others I've also forgotten the names of. Off I go to my local RFD on Friday afternoon trying to keep all this info in my head. Of course, by the time I got there I'd forgotten half of it lol, but I remembered the most important bits. Told the bloke I was after a brand new but budget .22 Air Rifle and I had a few idea's and had done a bit of research. He said ok, go for it. I said do you have a HatSan Mod 60s? He said yes, one left and goes to the front window display to get it for me.
    He hands it to me and my first thought after a 25+ year absence was OMG, I had forgotten just how heavy a .22 Air Rifle can be and that little Spanish 20 bore side by side I had years earlier probably weighed less than half of this thing!! I'm a reasonably strong bloke but after holding it up and peering through the scope I thought crikey, I'm not sure I would be able to use this thing on a long day out lol. Meanwhile he's cheerfully telling me the scopes are just for show/testing and the price tag dangling off the trigger guard is just for the rifle alone. I take a quick glance at the price tag and think we'll see about that lol. So I said ok, do you have an SMK XS19? He nods and gets it for me. Hmm, a little lighter but not much, poorer quality by far than the HatSan, poorer trigger, the er, "wood" on the stock looks like something from the top of a budget Matalan bedside table and the Rifle has no auto safety on breaking. He tells me it's their best budget .22 seller and is a very powerful, accurate Rifle for the price. I said yes, I know, I've studied it well online :) Next up the Hammerli 550 Seeker. (This is the one my Father bought a year previously). First thing I notice cause you'd have to try really hard not to, is that there appears to be an extra long dustbin attached to the pointy end of it :) I said to the bloke what's that? He says it's the suppressor mate and it really quietens this rifle down a lot. I said that's if it doesn't pull you forward and faceplant you first before you have a chance to pull the trigger lol. I have to say it was heavier than the HatSan and although one or two reviewers seemed to like it, it seems less powerful than either the 60s or the XS19 by quite a bit from what I had read. I instantly thought meh, not for me I don't like it even though the bloke tells me this one does come with the scope and the dustbin on the end. Tried out a few more and just wasn't really impressed and they didn't have the Webley one I mentioned so now we're down to the Hatty 60's or the SMK XS19 clad in a cheap Matalan table. (I jest so XS19 owners please don't be offended as I really liked it and came so, so close to choosing it). In the end, the sheer power, excellent features, walnut stock and great quality build, feel and looks won out and I chose the HatSan Mod 60s. The Hawke HK3008 HD 3-9x40 was £49.99 so he said I'll let you have the scope and the mountings (£16) for £40 so I grabbed a cheap n cheerful rifle bag for now and I was good to go. He wouldn't shift on the price of the rifle and I won't say what I paid for it as I am well aware I could have ordered it online for anywhere in the region of £100 - £130, had it sent to a local RFD and gone to collect it, but I'm a man who like to get things there and then once my minds made up and I couldn't be bothered waiting for one RFD to approve the paperwork to send it to my local RFD and then have to go over and get it another time so let's just say I paid a bit more than I could have but I saved £25 on the scope and mountings.
    Off home I go and decide that the world has changed a lot in the intervening 25 years , gun laws are stricter than ever (and getting worse) and at almost 50 years of age I can no longer act like the ten year old I was and just go wandering off shooting over common or public land as the mood used to take us. Hmm, what to do to get a permission or two or three lol?
    Rest of Friday thinking about it and all day Saturday too. Long ago lost touch with all those farmers I once had permission off and they're probably either all dead, retired or their sons/daughters have taken over by now and they wouldn't know or remember me anyway. Sunday I decide is to be a day of action lol. First I ring up a bloke who happens to rent a place where he fixes cars (mine included) and the same property he rents has maybe 3-4 medium to large fields, woodland and a bit of scrub land with it (Plus his yard is very big and long for great target practise :) ) and he immediately says yes but unfortunately there are sheep in the fields at the moment but they will be moved on soon for the grass to recover and as soon as they are he will ring me and I can do whatever I want up there anytime and crack on with it. I said that's great and thanks a lot, put the phone down and spent the next 2-3 hours cursing all sheep that have ever lived, are living and will ever live lol :D Then I thought come on Andy, you can do better than this. I then thought back to my younger days and to an old friend of mine I was in school with and we used to always be up on his.......you guessed it FARM. We used to ride the horses, shoot a bit and I used to help out there too, have dinner there and we were really good friends. After about 16 though, life took us in different ways and although I saw him off and on over the years I hadn't seen him, much less talk to him for maybe 25-30 years! Now he was always let's say, quick tempered etc (lot's of farmers are lol) and I have spoken to some people over the years who still know him and um, he hasn't changed or mellowed lol. He is a typical "Get orf moi land or I'll blast your arse with me double-barrel" type farmer and he hates anyone walking, walking with dogs, ramblers so shooting is usually out of the window before you can mumble it all out. I thought what the heck, I'll do it the modern cowards way by text lol ;-) So I got hold of his mobile number off somebody I know and fired off a text to him asking was there any chance of considering permission to shoot on one of his properties (2 or 3 can't remember now). Didn't even tell him who I was lol, just hinted to him about something really funny that happened to us years ago on his farm. I thought nah, there's no chance and a text will probably come back saying no chance and sod off (forum rules would not allow me to say what I know he would really say so I'll spare your blushes lol). Text comes back an hour later, who is this? I text back with another funny experience but this time I do leave my name at the end of it thinking ok, so now he knows. Within 5 mins my phones ringing and I've put his number/name in my contacts and up pops his name. I thought oh well, here we go. I answer and a familiar voice says Andrew, what a blast from the past, where the 'f' you been all these years boy? I thought you were either dead or emigrated somewhere lol. So I said nah, still around and always have been, just haven't seen you in many years. So we talked a bit about "the old crazy days" and after about 5 mins he says no problems Andrew, you've got permission to go to (He explained to me where he knew I'd remember from years ago) and he said you can go anytime you like just a quick text to say your there so I know. I said that's great and thanks very much. It's what I would describe as maybe a medium sized farm. He said did you know I also bought (name withheld) farm years ago when they decided to finish and, as you know it used to be the boundary line between my farm and theirs? I said no, I had no idea and I hadn't heard anything. He said well, that's all mine now too, and you can now cross the old boundary as you'll remember it when you go there and after explaining where the new MUCH larger boundary of his property extends out to, he said you can shoot on all that too!! Ahh, excellent lol! The Land I can shoot on is made up of medium to large size fields, some good grazing grass for cattle/sheep, the others more rough/scrub type grass suitable for sheep bordered by high hedgerows, and various fence types (barbed wire etc) with the usual gates between most fields. Two sides of the property are bordered by a pretty big, deep, good old Welsh lush green woodland, with trees like oak, beech, ash, hazel, holly etc :) I joined The BASC yesterday, (Air Rifle Member is all I'll need) after reading the comments here in the Hunting forum on getting permissions to shoot and I told him I was now also insured while on his land against accidental damage to property, livestock etc and that pleased him a lot, so it definitely does help in my opinion! So, all in all, a pretty good weekends work I think and a result to keep me happy for a while. Hmm, now about the 3-4 other farmers sons in the same area, I was also in school with and always got on really well with....Mmmm lol. It's got to be done as I have always believed in that old gem, if you don't ask, you don't get!
    Anyhow, sorry for a hideously long post but as I don't bother with any of that social media nonsense and rarely post in any forums this could well be one of the very few posts I make here as I much prefer to just read what others are saying about shooting etc so it had to be a long one lol.
    I'm almost done but I just want to end by saying I went up there to my nice, shiny new permission (It's only a 2 mile drive), with the HatSan 60s yesterday as it's not had a pellet through it since I bought it Friday and I have to agree with the views on this forum that one, I made the right choice and two, it's certainly a very high power wonderful Rifle. Just a little on the heavy side I would say but it'll be fine as I get used to it I'm sure.
    Wow, I knew it wasn't going to be easy after 25+ years away from shooting. I think it was a little too windy on times which didn't help but I managed some "rather large" groupings lol at maybe 25-30 meters and as I got more used to the scope etc I closed them up quite a lot hitting the dead centre a number of times but it may have been just luck. I need to re-read carefully how to zero in the scope as I don't think I was doing it properly. I forgot that the more magnification power you use, the harder it is to keep the rifle perfectly still, so in the end I tried a lot less mag and I seemed to get more accurate. This was while resting the rifle on a fence post. How the heck do you guy's keep the rifle still enough to aim properly when just standing or crouching with it when the thing weighs so much? Put it this way, I won't be risking causing injury only to anything living until I can manage that and make small groupings, so I'm guessing it's going to be just paper target practise for a while! Maybe at 25-30 meters it was a bit too long to be starting out on as I'm no longer used to it and maybe I should consider trying a the 10, 15 or 20 meter range instead and increase the distance as I get better and more confident? Any thoughts on this or suggestions, feel free to offer advice :)
    Now to get my, self composed permission letter sent out to all those very large bunny, rat and Corvids infested farms I remember from all those years ago! If you read all or even some of this I hope it was of some interest and help to you. Great forum and good to be here.

    Sent from my "Couch potato PC Setup" from out here in the ether :D

    Andy :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  2. Jesterdog

    Jesterdog Donator

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    Started reading - 2 cups of coffee later LOL ........ Welcome Andy
    I'm a new member here too, also from Swansea, with a similar history (air rifles only) though now only garden use
    Wayne
     
  3. stevemandm

    stevemandm Honorary Member

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    great story and intro, but jeez, I've read shorter books !
    great choice of rifle and scope too (we have the 55s with a Hawke sport hd scope, so v similar set up). don't know what pellets you use, but I would recommend the rws superdomes
     
  4. Kenbarcon

    Kenbarcon Donator

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    Great write up, i have over 1600 posts on this forum and don't think i have typed that many words if you added them all together.:D

    By the way.........:welcome: to the forum.
     
  5. p45ton

    p45ton Busy Member

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    Great write up, must be longest intro every. Look forward to reading your future posts, I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy them. Welcome to the addiction.
     
  6. Ganton Gunner

    Ganton Gunner Super Duper Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    I thought I was reading a book lol
    hi and WELCOME to the forum :D:welcome:
     
  7. Jfrwhite

    Jfrwhite Posting Addict

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    My brain hurts..................welcome to the forum..............I'm off for a lie down!
     
  8. Titchgamer

    Titchgamer Honorary Member

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    Christ thats a novel!

    Anyways welcome to the forum and enjoy your stay.
     
  9. doodsy

    doodsy Donator

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    welcome andy,

    loved the intro myself and look forward to hearing how you get on with
    the hatsan.
     
  10. Andy Wales

    Andy Wales Donator

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    I do apologise for the very long post guy's but that will be a one off I promise you! The pellets I bought to start off are H&N Field Trophy (Domed) and they were recommended by the shop where I bought the Rifle. I will no doubt be trying a few other brands over time and have noted the advice to try the RWS Superdomes. Thanks!

    Andy.
     
  11. themadspread

    themadspread Donator

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    welcome along taff hope you enjoy it but i promise its gonna cost you a lot more than youthink
     
  12. reaper6

    reaper6 Banned BANNED

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    Welcome along mate....thats the best introduction i have ever seen on here
     
  13. Denzle

    Denzle Donator

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    Hi Andy, welcome to the forum. I'm just down the road in Bridgend.
     
  14. nath92

    nath92 Donator

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    Welcome mate
    Atb
    Nath
     
  15. Jesterdog

    Jesterdog Donator

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    Distance to target -
    When I first returned to shooting, a few months ago, my shots were all over the place - open sights and aged eyesight adding to my group size :mad:
    Now I have a scope, like you, I was still unhappy with my performance. As a confidence boost, I've set the target at about 15yds and shoot from a garden picnic table, with cushions on the table to support my leading wrist ........ unbelievably accurate - though I think of it as a total cheat. As I (hopefully) improve, I intend using a different stance and then increase distance.
    Try something similar, at least it showed me how accurate the gun could me in the right hands:rolleyes:
     
  16. jolo-bolo

    jolo-bolo Forum Hopscotch Champion

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    If you submit that as you thesis you will be sure to get your masters degree.
    Hello and welcome to our happy little band. Hope you got deep pockets if your already saying my rifles a bit heavy your sure to find a lighter one soon.
     
  17. Booster

    Booster Member

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    Hahahahaha...typical Jack, why use 50 words when you can use 50,000?

    Just joking :D New here myself too & also been away from shooting for decades!

    Blooooooobirds!

    (Just thought I'd get that in!)
     
  18. 1961nuffield

    1961nuffield Honorary Member

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    Welcome to the forum :up:


    John
     
  19. Andy Wales

    Andy Wales Donator

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    Hi,

    Actually, I'm not a Swansea Jack at all lol, it's just the part of the address the forum shows. I live around 15 miles from Swansea. As for the "Blooooooobirds!" joke I only ever watch the World cup every 4 years and the Euro's every 2 years and that's enough football for me :) Yes, a very long post. I started typing about my previous shooting life and got mega carried away. I don't usually type anywhere near that in forums lol.

    Thanks to everyone for the great welcome messages ;)

    Andy.....
     
  20. Margaret13

    Margaret13 Honorary Member

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    Hello and welcome :)
     

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