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Q: I have recently been taking my 14-year-old son with me around the country to various shooting grounds. He tried my gun – under close supervision – a couple of times but as his enthusiasm for the sport increased I decided to book him in for some lessons. He has enjoyed the experience immensely and is now starting to ask me about having his own gun. We’ve shopped around and spotted a decent Sporter for good money that would be ideal for him. I have heard you don’t need to be 18 to have a shotgun certificate but I am wondering whether he can be registered properly now and have the gun on his own ticket?
Stuart Farr says: It’s always great to hear of another youngster joining the sport. Unfortunately, the timing of your intended purchase is a little inconvenient because of your son’s current age.
It is perfectly permissible for your son to be taught to shoot, but under section 24(3) Firearms Act 1968, it is an offence to make a gift of a shotgun or ammunition to a person under the age of 15.
The intention here is to ensure that under-15s are taught safe gun handling at an early age but not given guns of their own. The offence would be committed by the person giving the gun (you) and not by the young person.
It is not all bad news. Your son can apply for a shotgun certificate now, which will entitle him to use and possess a shotgun subject to certain restrictions.
When he turns 15, he can be given his own gun although he won’t be legally allowed to buy or hire one himself. You don’t need to lose out on a good deal if the gun you have selected is the right one. For now, though, it will have to go on your ticket.
Q: I use Pilla X6 Outlaws for shooting, with prescription inserts. They are excellent but I find that in certain conditions they are prone to misting up. Could you tell me if there’s anything I can do to prevent this?
Ed Lyons says: There are a couple of things that can help. First, adjust the nosepads on your shooting glasses a little to hold the lenses slightly further from your face.
This will allow more airflow and reduce the tendency for misting up. Also, you can buy anti-fog wipes intended for motorcycle visors, and some shooters find those very effective. Apply the wipes to the insert as well as the outer lens.
Beyond a choke
Q: I’ve recently taken up clay shooting. My first shotgun is a multichoke Browning B525. A friend has a similar but older Browning that uses shorter chokes than mine. He also has a choke plug gauge and when we compared choke tubes we discovered that the actual exit size of my chokes, for the same choke marking, is larger than with his. He suggested that I might need to use a tighter choke than he uses for the same targets, as mine will probably shoot more open patterns. What would you suggest?
Richard Atkins says: The first thing to understand is that choke plug gauges only measure the exit bore size, but that’s only one factor in your gun’s choke.
Choke is determined by the reduction in a gun’s bore between the parallel part of the barrel and the muzzle. This means the exit bore is just one part of the choke equation; the bore size inside the barrel plays a part too.
This can vary considerably between brands and, nowadays, between guns that conform to the previous standards and those that have oversize bores (sometimes referred to as ‘back-bored’).
The two Browning guns you mention here are typical of this. Your friend’s gun has the earlier Invector chokes, which typically have a bore size of 18.5mm (0.729”).
Your gun has Invector Plus chokes, which are designed for use in Browning’s back-bored barrels with 18.7 or 18.8mm bore diameter. Equivalent choke tubes will therefore be larger for your gun than for your friend’s.
Choke seeks to achieve a particular pattern density. Modern guns achieve the required densities with less actual choke constriction than was once the case.
When selecting chokes, you also need to consider your cartridges. Different cartridges can change your gun’s pattern by the equivalent of two or more degrees of choke constriction.
For these reasons it’s best to treat choke markings as a rough guide, and avoid getting too hung up on exit diameters. The only way to know what patterns your gun, choke and cartridges actually produce is to test them on a pattern plate.
Few people do this, but I do know from experience that those who do always learn something useful. Good luck!
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