Have you left it ‘til the last minute to get your gun serviced for the season? Fear not! Jonny from The Gun Shop has some tips on what to look out for and consider

credit: Archant

Once again, the game season is upon us! What does this mean from a gunsmithing perspective? Well, it means quicker turnarounds for you, there is no time in the summer for complacency! Pressure can be fun, but to alleviate the potential stresses of gunsmiths around the country, here is a pre-season checklist you can work through:

1: Shoot your gun

Regardless of when you last used your game gun, take it out and test it as similarly to your first shoot day as possible. Shoot more than just a couple of rounds through it, test it out hard, get in a flush stand and blast away. All too often we hear 'when it's hot, it does X', so get it hot, simulate a drive and see if it copes. If it doesn't, try to remember exactly what happened - was there a click? Was it silent? Did one barrel work and the other not? If so, which barrel? Is the problem intermittent, or does it crop up every single time? Are you doing anything different to usual, different cartridges for example? Phone your gunsmith and relay the story, while fresh, then get the gun in and have it fixed. Common early-season issues usually revolve around ejection or light striking. This may also give you the chance to see if you remember how to shoot; it is a little like riding a bike, but I doubt that even Wiggo could take a 7-month hiatus from pedalling and still expect to be a champ. If your end-of-season prowess doesn't return, grab yourself a lesson!

credit: Archant

2: Have your gun serviced

It may be a little late to organise a full strip and clean, but even just getting a gunsmith to pop your stock off, check your gun over and have it washed out and lubricated can be worth its weight.

While this is something you can do yourself, having experienced eyes checking over the internals of your gun will pick up anything that could be amiss and hopefully they will advise you on it. As before, make sure you test it after a service - some guns just don't like being cleaned!

credit: Archant

3: Own a spare

In a day and age where you can buy a brand-new Yildiz for £550 with a 5-year warranty, (the same sort of money as a 100-bird day now), there is no reason not to keep a spare gun with you at all times. It can save the day if your gun goes wrong, as guns can do, or even better perhaps save the day of a fellow Gun. Even a £100 AYA Yeoman will feel better than standing in a field shouting 'bang'.

credit: Archant

4: Time for change

Time changes us, everything is transient - our physical ability, the size of our body, let alone where we shoot and what we shoot at. Admitting this to ourselves can be difficult, of course, but our gun needs to change as we do.

I am going through this at the moment. I have the same Miroku that I customised some seven years ago, and although I am still in love with it, my requirements have changed. I used to be stronger and more agile (I'm not yet 30 but am feeling less youthful for sure); I used to shoot many more clays; my face has matured; and I used to be obsessed by high birds.

A 9lb, 32", aggressively choked gun doesn't suit my needs any more, but I am stubborn. I won't get rid of it. A lighter, more adequate lowland gun that suits my game and vermin orientated shooting would make sense. One that fits me in a more open style of shooting would be good too. There is a time when you should look at your gear and say: 'this is the end of the road - it's not you, it's me' and find something more appropriate to your current lifestyle. I am spoilt but know that I couldn't afford what I want as my next gun, so I am busy searching for the one. Admittedly, I haven't got long left as the first day is in a few weeks! Regardless, my point here is twofold: firstly, check your gun fit. And secondly, be honest with yourself - have you got the best tool for the job at hand?

A changing world

Well that's pretty much it - a very basic set of things I go through prior to every season. And what a season it will be. Certainly one to remember, I fear. The last one of the old ways, perhaps? This year has seen the battle against us increase in intensity. Wild Justice, among others, are having a field day exposing the worst of us and smearing us to the world as destroyers of the countryside. We all know this to be false, but seemingly are content to mutter among ourselves and hope that logic and science defeats emotion and public opinion. The world has changed, and we need to show ourselves to the world in a new light, as defenders of wildlife and biodiversity, defenders of sustainable meat harvest, and upstanding citizens one and all.

I personally will stretch myself this year to make the most of the sport as I have known it my whole life. I believe wholeheartedly that this is the time for change and the country sports we know and love will change with it. It is time that we set in law our right to do the things we do, and to defend ourselves from the discrimination we face.

There is obviously some compromise that will happen over the next few years, which will probably see fewer birds released, and the price of shooting soar as demand exceeds supply. But I believe that this would be for the good of game shooting - and would allow us to do what we do in the knowledge that regardless of where and what we shoot, we are adding more to the world than we are taking away.