With more time on our hands than we know what to do with, ELEY Outdoor Ambassador Mick Garvey has been reflecting on how he developed his love of shooting as well as his recommendations for those wanting to start.

“Being in the unusual position of having time on my hands during this COVID-19 lockdown my mind went back to how I started shooting many, many years ago. Back then it was easier than it is today. I actually got my first air rifle from Woolworths. Yes, you heard right Woolworths in the high street. I’d spend every Saturday morning drooling over the awesome looking Webley Hawk mk2. You could have it in either .177 or .22 and if you had the cash you could get both barrels with it.

I eventually broke down my mother’s defences and I was gifted the Webley as a Christmas present. My eagerness saw me going through the tin of pellets before Christmas dinner was served. This in turn put me in a right old strop but set me off to where I am today. Luckily that is something I don’t have to worry about these days or for somewhere to shoot. Back then it was either in the back garden or on my mates’ farm.

Things have moved on since then and for someone wanting to get into hunting it can be a daunting subject. A sub 12 ft/lb air rifle can be bought relatively easily but you still need appropriate land to shoot it and adequate storage for the gun such as a cabinet.

On the other hand going down the FAC route is somewhat more complex. You need land that is cleared for the calibre and type of rifle you have chosen. You’ll still need a gun cabinet to lock the gun in and ideally a separate lockable box to store the ammunition and bolt in. Some police forces may want further security and insurance is a must. The police will also want to interview you, check your background, medical records and inspect your security is in place. There is a cost to this route too. My last renewal was £65 for a coterminous certificate so you’ll be looking somewhere in that region. There are also a few restrictions on ownership which should be read thoroughly along with the current General Licence.

You can read these here:

Please note that you should read and understand the General Licence and there is no charge for the GL you should just read and understand it.

But all is not doom and gloom. There are plenty of clubs that you can join and I’d suggest visiting one and see if it’s what you really want and if it is get some range time in. Your local gun-shop could be a great source of information and contacts. I’d also check to see if any of your shooting friends are willing to let you tag along on a day’s hunting. Just remember be invisible, silent, watch and learn. You’ll know immediately if it’s for you, I can guarantee you that.

One thing I will say is that going down the airgun then the rimfire route is the way to go. Plus, good rimfire rifles are very well priced and generally cheaper than some top end airguns. The ammunition is also priced very competitively and of course the best ammunition for hunting is the ELEY subsonic’s and HV’s.

ELEY subsonic hollow
ELEY high velocity hollow

It doesn’t end there though, you’ll need a scope, a gun-bag, good outdoor clothing and various other bits and pieces … maybe binoculars, range-finder, game-bag, bi-pod, rucksack … the list can be endless. But to start with keep it simple, just the necessities and keep the landowner informed and happy. They could well be the connection for your next permission so respect them and their land.

So get off to the right start … good luck and happy shooting.