It all began with an ancient rifle and a very understanding father. Each summer birthday featured a shooting competition in the orchard followed by a water fight for the stable block hose. Living in rural Sussex meant a great deal of freedom to roam the woodland and fields near the house and I was always content to be alone with just my rifle and my thoughts for company.
A local farmer knowingly proffered a 50p bounty for each troublesome corvid and I scoured the field boundaries and pastures for the elusive chance to see my grubby palm crossed with silver. Alas, in four years I put only one in the bag but I was hooked on hunting and the beauty of the English countryside more than made up for any sense of frustration.
My shooting today isn't all that different to my boyhood wanderings in that I still only have to walk out of the door to be surrounded by fine views and diverse opportunities (a fact I'm extremely grateful for). Hopefully, both my marksmanship and my fieldcraft have improved a bit since my teenaged years but I still find crows as wily and as fascinating as ever.
If I can't eat it then I won't shoot it and I often pass up shots on undersized quarry, leaving them to grow a bit before they make their journey to the pot. Although I take no joy in the killing, I find great satisfaction in using a tool effectively and in ensuring that my quarry is dispatched quickly, having led a quintessentially free range life.
I've enjoyed using all kinds of firearms ranging from military issue weapons to twelve bores but break barrel springers remain my all round favourite guns. Spring air rifles may lack the focused power of the centre-fire or the kinetic thrill of the shotgun but they make hunting small game for the table one of the purest, most democratic and genuinely sporting forms of shooting that any one of us can enjoy.
Through my writing and my days of instruction I'm keen to share some of my lessons, my interests and my mistakes in an accessible, honest and truthful way. My goal is to help people to become slightly happier, healthier and greener human beings and although hunting may seem a strange medium for such a goal, we were reliant upon it for at least 100,000 years before we started farming. Perhaps there's a lesson for all of us there?
Thanks for reading.