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Should I carry my certificate?

It is becoming increasingly more important to be able to produce your shotgun certificate promptly when necessary

Q: I noticed recently that some shooting friends of mine carry their shotgun certificate in a shooting bag so it’s always handy in case they are challenged. Personally, I don’t like the idea of carrying it around on my person just in case I lose it. Do I have to produce my certificate on the spot if asked by the police, or can I perhaps produce it later at a police station such as happens with a driving licence after a driving offence?

Stuart Farr says: If you had asked this question in years past, I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer you received was along the lines of “don’t worry, keep the certificate in a safe place at home and it’ll be fine”. However, we now live in different times where consistent scrutiny of gun laws and those who carry them is almost a way of life.

I have seen that, in some quarters, the advice given has been to carry a copy of your certificate with you and in some areas of the country it might be argued that would be a reasonable thing to suggest. I am, of course, obliged to say that you should follow your friends’ example and carry it with you at all times and certainly if you are shooting clays at recognised shooting grounds.

The risk you run is that your guns can be seized if you are not able to provide sufficient evidence you are entitled to have them in your possession. Producing your certificate at a police station within 48 hours is not really an option because that could leave you in possession of guns you are not entitled to have.

In particular, if you are going any distance, attending any place where you are not a regular or think you may need to buy ammunition then definitely take it with you. Shooting grounds have the right to inspect your certificate before allowing you to shoot in any event, and so being caught short can be embarrassing.

In the field, exercising informed judgement and common sense is essential. A shotgun certificate is an important document and if you are shooting locally in the countryside and will be exposed to the elements I fully appreciate it is difficult to carry an original certificate on your person. 

I question whether carrying a black and white copy is now sufficient. A colour copy certified and stamped by a professional person would be my preference and will help to demonstrate a more conscientious approach to any overzealous policeman who will then be able to check the details quickly and easily. Even then I would still recommend keeping the original close by and ready for inspection should it be needed.

Contact lens problems

Q: Last year I was diagnosed with filamentary keratitis in my left eye and was in severe pain. I have been fitted with a ‘bandage contact lens’, which helps greatly with the discomfort and stops the filaments developing. I’m supposed to wear it for eight weeks until it is changed at the hospital. The problem is I can’t see very well through it and it gets greasy so it affects my shooting. My consultant says I should be happy that I am no longer in pain. Are there any other options?

Ed Lyons says: Most definitely – I have fitted lenses for this condition very successfully. It is not uncommon for hospital eye departments to have a stock of bandage lenses – the primary aim of which can be to protect the eye, deliver drugs directly to its surface, or provide effective pain relief, as in your case.

The good news is that there are lenses commercially available – such as Acuvue Oasys and Ciba Vision Night and Day for example – that can be worn overnight. These are made to your prescription and are disposed of more regularly, meaning they have less time to become greasy. My advice would be to ask your consultant to supply these for you, or I will happily see you myself.

As a temporary measure, you could always take out your bandage lens and use a daily lens for shooting, then pop the bandage lens back in once finished.

Sensitive to recoil

Q: I am new to clay pigeon shooting and am quite enjoying it. I’m a fairly small frame lady shooter and use an alloy action O/U which, although it’s 12-gauge, I find I can handle quite well. I use budget 28 gram 7.5 cartridges at the moment as I read that these will tackle most targets I will shoot. My problem is recoil. I’m a bit sensitive to the ‘kick’ I feel. It has been suggested I change my gun for a semi-auto, or a 20 gauge, to help me. Can you advise if changing my gun is the answer, or is there something else?

Richard Atkins says: The question of lighter guns and recoil is one that many people will tackle at some stage; it applies as much to slighter frame young shooters and those entering the veteran category too. The answer will not be the same for everyone, but the principles involved certainly will.

Merely changing the gun to a smaller gauge will not automatically reduce felt recoil. Recoil is largely the product of the weight of the shot load and the velocity of the cartridge. These two factors combined account for the bulk of recoil energy, and hence also felt recoil.

A gas operated semi-auto will feel smoother, load for load, because of the way it operates – total recoil is the same, but it is spread over a longer cycle time with lower peak impulse, so feels less. For this reason a gas semi-auto might be worth trying.

However, there is a simpler route to try first: use cartridges with a lighter shot load and a slightly lower velocity. There are a good selection of 21 gram cartridges made for clay target shooting, and these perform surprisingly well.

There is good reason for this, as we have explained when testing 21 gram loads in the past. They really do punch above their weight, primarily because the shorter shot column creates less compressive force, and hence less pellet damage as the shot accelerates.

The result is that a higher proportion of the shot pellets end up in the pattern than they would with a similar quality 28 gram load. So light loads have good pattern percentages, and they will break clays further out than you might expect!

Light shot loads may not be the answer for serious competitions, but they can be a very good way to enjoy smooth club shooting and surprise yourself with the good breaks. When we tested Eley First Select Light, RC Romagnola 21 and Hull CompX 21 cartridges, they performed very well.

There are several other choices but we haven’t tested them all. Give some a try – you might find they provide very smooth shooting and a satisfactory answer to your recoil problem.

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