Our experts let you know what to do if you had planned to go to events and shoots that have been cancelled due to coronavirus, plus more questions answered!
Let us know if you have any questions – we have the experts to answer them.
Ask the experts: Can I get my money back?
Q: Earlier this year I booked myself on to a number of clay shoots around the UK, the idea being to get some decent registered shooting under my belt and maybe do a few bigger competitions. I had also planned to visit a couple of the larger country shows. All this involved organising and booking overnight accommodation – but now of course coronavirus has led to widespread cancellations. I had to pay up front for much of my accommodation, so where do I stand legally when it comes to recovering the costs? Can I get my money back?
Stuart Farr says: Unfortunately, the cancellation of an event or fair will have little bearing on accommodation you have booked. The booking is governed by the terms and conditions of the hotelier in question and some are stricter than others.
Even if the reason you need the overnight stay has gone away, provided the hotel or B&B concerned is still open for business and willing and able to provide the accommodation then normally you are liable to pay for it. However, we live in strange times and hoteliers have to decide what to do just like any other business.
First, check the cancellation policy. Often this allows for a proportional refund depending on the timing of cancellation. If you cancel far enough in advance you may get a percentage of your money back. If you cancel the day before, it is unlikely you will get any refund at all.
Regardless of your legal position, It’s worth speaking with the hotelier. It is possible that, in order to retain your business for the future, they may be prepared to agree to a reasonable postponement of the original booking or offer a discount on the next one if you are able to re-confirm within a certain period.
Ask the experts: Can my gun shoot steel?
Q: I recently purchased my first shotgun for clay shooting. I asked a lot of friends about which gun to buy as I had a limited budget of £900. I was torn between a new gun or a second hand ‘big brand’. After trying several older guns, and looking at some new ones, I decided to take the advice of several chums to go for a second hand option, and settled upon a really nice Browning B325 Grade 1 Sporter.
The wood is plain but in good condition. A knowledgeable pal checked that the action is tight and everything is in good order, and it came with a full set of standard Invector chokes – all under my budget, with a gun slip and slab of cartridges thrown in! I’m really happy with it and was just starting to use it when the coronavirus lockdown stopped us all shooting!
Now, with time to dwell, another friend has suggested I perhaps should have gone for the later B425 or B525 model, with Invector Plus chokes. He tells me these will handle steel, while the shorter Invector chokes I have will not. Is this correct? Have I made the wrong choice with all the talk of steel shot currently going on?
Richard Atkins says: Don’t worry, the Browning B325 is a superb piece of kit! This was the last of the Miroku built Browning models, with the forged chopper lump barrels. That is the method that some of the biggest and most prestigious makers still use. The newer monobloc construction is, of course, more than up to the job too. It’s well proven and used by all the volume producers today.
The B325 is plain, but the barrels, receiver and action parts are all extremely robust. With proper cleaning and lubrication it will serve you for a lifetime, and be there to hand down.
As for the standard, short Invector chokes, you can use these with standard steel cartridges. I recently met with Browning technicians in Liege and they were happy to confirm this point. It is something many Browning owners have asked. Your gun was made before steel proof came about, so of course it wasn’t steel proof tested at the time – but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t pass now.
Browning confirmed to me that all their O/U guns are able to withstand higher service pressures than currently found in standard steel cartridges. Provided they have been maintained in sound condition they will also withstand the High Performance steel shot proof too.
They made it clear that they do not make some models stronger than others for different markets. The American SAAMI rules allow for much higher velocities than current CIP rules permit, and Browning are not seeing problems arising there.
That said, if the need arises to shoot steel for clays, then the sensible approach would be to stay with ‘standard’ steel cartridges – that covers virtually all current steel clay target ammunition anyway. If you wanted to use high performance steel cartridges, perhaps for game, then you should consider having a gunsmith check your gun over and submit it for steel proof.
If you are shooting ‘standard’ steel cartridges you can use choke restrictions tighter than half choke, although you probably don’t need to. When using high performance steel shot cartridges a maximum of half choke is advised.
More from Browning
- Browning B525 SL review
- Browning B725 Pro Master review
- Browning B525 Ultra XS Pro review
- Browning B725 Sporter: Gun test
Ask the experts: should I try a crossover stock?
Q: My right eye has excellent vision where I can read a number plate at 35 yards, but my left eye is damaged and the best I can achieve is 14 yards. Unfortunately my left eye is still dominant and I shoot left handed, with both eyes open for better sight pictures.
Years ago I had laser surgery which produced superb vision; previous to that my prescription was -7.00 in both eyes. Then in 2016 I woke up one morning and had a fog in my left eye, which gradually got worse. It transpired I had a detached retina and a hole in my macula, and two days later I had emergency eye surgery.
Because the damage is in the back of my eye a prescription lens only gives a very small improvement. Objects look 50% smaller and slightly distorted due to the macula not returning to a nice flat lining after surgery and there is less light in my left eye. I had cataract surgery six months later which helped a little, but it does nothing for my shooting. Had the injury been in my right eye I think I would still be shooting clays in AA class.
I am in excellent health but mid 60s in age, and a county and England class athlete in my youth. The surgeon says he can do no more for me and saved me from going blind. Given what happened, he feels the result is good.
Ed Lyons says: As a fellow -7.00 short sighted person I can well understand the draw of the laser surgery. I have had a couple of clients who have had retinal issues afterwards; whether they are directly linked or merely coincidental is a moot point, but personally I’m sticking with my contact lenses!
The issue with macular repair surgery is the once the delicate structures of the central fovea have been disrupted, the resulting image can shrink (called micropsia) and become distorted.
It’s the same as if you took the film from an old fashioned camera, smudged it and then put it back into the camera body – no matter what expensive lenses you purchase from the camera shop, you’ll still be left with a sub-optimal picture. As you can imagine, there are limitations to how effective spectacle lenses can be in that situation.
I have had a couple of clients recently with a similar issue, and both found great success with a crossover stock – so they mount the gun as before but the barrels are in front of the other eye; you might then need to use a small patch on the left lens of your shooting glasses to prevent your master left eye taking over.
Another possibility might be to learn to shoot from the other shoulder. Some people find that, although it feels unnatural at first, they quickly get used to it and achieve good results. Have you considered either of those?
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