Let us know if you have any questions – we have the experts to answer them.
Q: I don’t plan on needing this advice for a while yet, but the question arose in conversation and I didn’t know the answer. Suppose I was to die suddenly, what would happen to the guns stored in my cabinet at home? I have followed official advice and I am the only person who knows the location of the cabinet keys, so when I am gone how are the keys supposed to be found, and what is then to be done with the guns?
Stuart Farr says: You are quite right that only authorised persons should have access to the keys for any cabinet that is being used to store firearms.
The official guidance, the Firearms Security Handbook, says that you should be careful where you store the keys in order to avoid them being discovered by someone who isn’t authorised to have access to the guns. This could give rise to problems if a certificate holder dies.
Normally, the person with conduct of the deceased’s affairs can apply to the police for a permit which allows the possession of the guns to be transferred, pending winding up the deceased’s estate. Such permits normally contain conditions and are valid for a limited period.
If the keys cannot be located, a professional locksmith is needed to gain access. In that event, if the locks are changed the new keys should be handed to the permit holder – so the permit would be needed before calling in the locksmith.
Anyone finding themselves in this situation would be wise to talk to the local firearms department as soon as practicable. They may want to inspect the guns before the permit is released, or they could insist on being present when the cabinet is opened so they can make arrangements for their safe keeping, perhaps through a local registered firearms dealer.
Q: I recently got some Pilla Outlaw shooting glasses with RX inserts. Some of my shooting friends swear by them, but they didn’t work for me at all. It was like looking through a fish bowl and made me feel unsteady when I moved my head. I have returned the inserts and was going to try contacts so I could wear the Pillas – but I’ve just read that with my astigmatism that probably wouldn’t work either. My prescription is: R Sph -3.50, Cyl -1.75, Axis 110.0; L Sph 3.25, Cyl -2.25, Axis 75.0. I am right handed and right eye dominant. I do hope you can help.
Ed Lyons says: Your prescription isn’t all that high, but it’s too high for the Outlaw inserts. If you mentioned your prescription when you purchased them the seller should have pointed this out.
The astigmatism is important, and with this type of prescription it’s important that the lenses are not just the correct power, but also sit in the correct position. Some ‘topic’ type contact lenses can be prone to rotation, which would only create more blur.
The best route for you would be to explore some full prescription products. We’ve had lots of success with this sort of prescription level using Oakleys, Randolph Engineering and of course Pilla, for whom I run the UK Prescription Program, making the lenses here in the UK.
The best frame for your needs would be the 540, which is available in both Steel and Carbon Fibre. If you get in touch with me direct, I can talk you through the options, or even send you some sample frames to try.
Q: I was chatting with some shooting pals about cartridges and chokes when someone brought up the subject of shot string, which I hadn’t heard of before. We wondered if a longer shot string could help, particularly with Skeet shooting, which is what we mainly shoot at the moment. Can you confirm whether a longer shot string could be helpful, and if so how would we achieve it?
Richard Atkins says: This is a topic that has intrigued and confused a good many shotgun shooters for a great many years. The term ‘shot string’ describes the length of the ‘cloud’ of shot pellets during their journey from gun to target.
If you could take a high speed photo of the pellets from the side, you’d see that the leading pellets were some distance ahead of the rearmost pellets, creating a sausage-shaped cluster in flight. The length of the sausage increases the greater the distance travelled.
The shot string can be several feet long at longer ranges – typically between 8 and 12 feet at around 40 yards. You might assume that would help with hitting a moving target. The thinking goes that if you give too much forward allowance and miss the target in front with the leading pellets, it can still be struck by the rearmost pellets in the shot string.
That is true to an extent, but it is a smaller extent than you might imagine. The key factor is that the shot pellets are travelling so much faster than the target – around eight to ten times faster at English Skeet target distances. So in the time it takes for the rearmost pellets to arrive, the target will only advance a very short distance – typically 3-5 inches in the case of an English Skeet target.
In a competition where a single clay can decide the winner, even that tiny amount can be useful, so some serious competitors ensure they make use of any advantage shot string can give.
When shot loads were 32 grams there were special Skeet choke designs, such as the Cutts compensator and the famous ‘Tula’ choke derived from it, that were used by world class shooters to achieve wide patterns and extended shot strings. The principles still apply but with lighter shot loads such devices are not widely used today.
Things that can increase shot string length are: a wider variation in shot sizes within the same cartridge; softer pellets; and fibre wads or short cup piston-style plastic wads. Velocity can also play a part, especially combined with some of the other points mentioned.
The reality, however, is that knowing where your gun actually prints its pattern, plus the choke and cartridge you choose, is much more important than shot string. So yes, it does help a little, but it won’t allow you to miss a foot or two in front of the target and still score a hit. If only!