Category Archives: Young Guns

Section dedicated to under 18 shooters

Turns Out Young People Are Responsible, Who’d have thought…

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You may remember the article in the Express & Star about young people being issued Shotgun Certificates. The link to it is http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2015/08/10/eight-year-old-granted-shotgun-licence-by-west-midlands-police/

We asked West Midlands Police for details of the number of under 18 year olds who held a Shotgun or Firearms Certificate who have been involved in a crime and had their certificate revoked as a result.

Their response…

“No shotgun licences issued to under 18’s in the last five years have been revoked, as we are aware none of the 70 under 18 licence holders have committed any crimes.

Any individual that possesses or is applying for a shotgun or firearm licence that comes to notice of the police for criminal proceedings or unsuitable behaviour would be subject to a suitability review and subsequently revocation of their licence.”

It would appear that these young people are upstanding members of the community, good for them!

The Mighty Mosin

As I have mentioned in a previous post there are various options for young shooters who wish to take up fullbore rifle shooting whilst working on a small budget. This is going to be the first of a series of posts relating to specific items and rifles, some of which I have mentioned previously other not.

Photo Credit: John Clark @ http://www.classic-firearms.co.uk/, picture of author using a M44 Carbine.

Photo Credit: John Clark @ http://www.classic-firearms.co.uk/, picture of author using a M44 Carbine.

Photo Credit: Brunel University Target Shooting Club, Courtesy of Chris Green

Photo Credit: Brunel University Target Shooting Club, Courtesy of Chris Green

The Russian Mosin Nagant is a minefield of history and variations, collecting them is in itself an extremely rewarding exercise with the number of variants available. Adopted in 1891 the Mosin Nagant or ‘3 line rifle’ became the work horse of the Imperial Russian Army, the Red Army, Finland and after the Second World War it proliferated around the newly formed Warsaw Pact and other Communist Nations. The Mosin’s cartridge, the 7.62x54R is still in use today by any nation that uses a variant of the Dragunov sniper rifle and PKM machine gun, among numerous other designs.

Throughout it’s service life the Mosin Nagant changed in appearance and numerous variants exist, for the purpose of this article we will be focusing on the Soviet-era rifles and carbines. Imperial Russian Army and Finnish are comparatively rare and as such hold a price premium, therefore, they will not be discussed except to provide context to the history of the design. It must be noted that despite their comparative scarcity to their Soviet counterparts, the aforementioned rifles are still a relatively cheap way of entering a collectors market, especially when compared to Lee Enfield rifles.

The overall design of the Mosin Nagant is somewhat unusual; however, it is not outside of what was normal in terms of firearms design at the time. The bolt has two locking lugs at the front and the handle acts as a third safety by bracing itself against the receiver wall. The magazine is of a five round integral single stack design as opposed to the more common integral double stack magazine found on Mauser rifles. Due to the design of the magazine and the large rim of the 7.62x54R cartridge the Mosin Nagant has a magazine cut-off which is used to make sure that the rim of the following cartridge goes not go in front of the round at the top of the magazine. This unique feature prevents jams associated with rimmed ammunition (known as rim lock). The sights are of the conventional no thrills tangent U notch and are marked out in 100m increments out to 2000 yards for 91/30 rifles and 1000 for M38 and M44 carbines. The sights are crude, but practical and if the shooter does their part the carbines can achieve 4MOA if not better, the rifles seem to range between 2 and 4 MOA at 100 yards. It must be noted that the 91/30 rifles and the M44 carbines were designed to be fired with the bayonet fixed, Russian and Soviet doctrine was for bayonet to always be mounted unless the rifle was in storage or transit. This means that the 91/30 and M44 are both zeroed with the bayonet fixed, some will shoot better without the bayonet, however, this may entail some work to alter the sights or practicing some ‘Kentucky windage.’

M44 Carbine, Dave Voisey

M44 Carbine, Dave Voisey[/caption

[caption id="attachment_108693" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bolt of 91/30 ‘Sniper Rifle’ Dave Voisey Bolt of 91/30 ‘Sniper Rifle’ Dave Voisey

Now that we have briefly discussed the overall design of the Mosin Nagant we will look into the reasons as to why it is an ideal rifle for young shooters who are a budget. First of all there is value for money, Mosin Nagants vary in price from £120-250 for the basic models, the price will also often include a sling, ammunition pouch, an original cleaning kit, and if you purchase a 91/30 then more often than not a bayonet is also included. Many of these rifles are in very good condition despite being produced under war time conditions, like every other nation, after the Second World War the USSR refurbished the rifles in her inventory, and with their rapid replacement firstly by the SKS and then by the AK series, saw the Mosin Nagant place in store. As a result of the refurbishments and long term storage the vast majority of Mosin Nagants in the UK are in exceptionally good condition.

91/30 PU scope Dave Voisey

91/30 PU scope Dave Voisey

Not only are Mosin Nagant rifles cheap to purchase but so is the ammunition, surplus 7.62x54R is still readily available for around £30-35 per hundred and can often be bought for a good price in 440 round ‘spam cans.’ The vast majority of this ammunition is of surprisingly good quality for surplus rounds that are in the region of 40 to 50 years old. There is a large variety of surplus rounds, due to the large number of nations who manufactured, and still manufacture the 7.62x54R cartridge, obviously some are better than others but, for general plinking the standard Soviet ‘light ball’ is a very good cartridge. Be warned, the military surplus ammunition is highly corrosive and despite the rugged nature of the Mosin the barrel can only take so much punishment from corrosive ammunition if it is not cleaned properly. The cleaning process does not need any solvents, just boiled water and patches. There is also a selection of factory ammunition available should you choose to use it, there is a large variation in price. Prvi Partizan is obviously on the more expensive end of the scale retailing at around £60-70 per 100 rounds, on the other end of the scale is Barnaul’s ammunition which retails for £40-50 per 100.

M44 Mosin Muzzle Flash, Photo Courtesy of Ray Brown.

M44 Mosin Muzzle Flash, Photo Courtesy of Ray Brown.

Accessorising Mosing Nagants is also a fairly cheap exercise, I am not talking about hacking apart a piece of history (something as a Military Surplus Rifle collector I could never condone) but, instead making it an easier rifle to shoot. Scope mounts can be easily mounted in the ‘scout’ fashion with the rear sight simply being replaced with a scope mount, mounts can be found in the US for a reasonable amount of money. Specialist recoil pads designed specifically for Mosin can also be easily found along with a plethora of different modern style of stock. Magazine reloading can be achieved by the use of stripper clips, these are fairly plentiful and cheap, however, they vary greatly in ease of use and quality.

Ultimately the Mosin Nagant in various forms is an extremely versatile and economical firearm. The M38 and M44 carbines provide a lot of fun, especially for the recoil sadists (an issue that the aftermarket recoil pads adequately cater for) and they provide an excellent fun. There is also with the right ammo on a dull day a wonderful ball of flames that bursts from the muzzle. The 91/30 rifles are just as fun, however, they are certainly more accurate due to the longer barrel and sight radius. There are also 91/30 sniper rifles mounted with PU and PE/PEM scopes, these obviously hold a premium and there are many fakes. Despite this, you can still find unmatched scope and rifle combinations with PU scopes for £6-700, easily the most affordable Second World War sniper rifle, as such you can own an interesting piece of history without breaking the bank. They may not be as pretty as other rifles, nor as accurate or ergonomic they are, however, as stated affordable, reliable and a wonderful way to introduce yourself to fullbore shooting and if you are so inclined collecting pieces of history.

National Shooting Week; A Young Shots Perspective

National Shooting Week is upon us with clay and rifle clubs across the country opening their doors to guests in a bid to introduce new members to our community. It truly is a noble effort and an effective one considering that it is truly on a national scale. With this in mind how can we as a community look towards accommodating for potential young shooters?

From the perspective of a young shooter introducing your peers into the community is often fraught with supposed danger, ignorance and trepidation. Shooting, both target and clay have over the years had unsavoury opinions made by those not knowing the truth about them. Schools and Universities are no different in this, I know from personal experience that the negative attitudes encountered from fellow students and staff alike can be truly disheartening. Yet again, there is always a number who look upon our sport with a positive curiosity. There are times, whilst being among the student body of an institution, when concealing our sport and interests may seem the best way forward, if simply to avoid being considered something rather unsavoury. This needs to change.

I never hid my interests; from day one I made it known that I was a shooter, why should we be ashamed. We as a group need to take the bull by the horns, the more positive exposure and the more we can make the sport just a part of ordinary life the better. It is also important that it becomes a normal fixture for those from all generations. It is notable and commendable that the home page of the National Shooting Week’s website features a large photo of Olympic Gold Medalist with some young shooters. Countryside Alliance made a clever and positive move in using this, we should not be ashamed of promoting our sport to youngsters as it offers some many positive outcomes to someone’s development in life. The recent media exposure of the exceptional clay shooting talents of 16 year old Amber Hill is also another great leap forward in the process of making shooting a normal activity for young people.

The question remains, how can we incorporate and expand the valiant efforts of National Shooting Week to encourage potential young shooters into the sport? The starting point is you, young shooters you are the gateway for others, you can make the difference. Be proud of your sport, wear shooting related clothing with pride and openly discuss your sport, yes there will always be those who can never be persuaded, some battles, in those cases are just not worth fighting. Regardless of this, take others shooting, try organising a clay shoot with some friends or those who have shown some interest. If you’re a rifle shooter and your club hosts guests days invite some of your peers to shoot with you, even if they do not take up shooting at least you have opened another person’s mind and shown them the reality of what the sport is.

All in all, National Shooting Week should be seen as a model for us to follow, it is great to have these type of large drives to show what shooting sports are really about, however, remember that this can be done all year round and when it comes to bringing in new young shooters the task starts with you.

Shooting on a Young Gun Budget

For young shooters and student shooter alike, money more often than not is the greatest restriction to our shooting activities. Let’s face it shooting is an expensive hobby, and it will never get cheaper. In my 10 years as a shooter I’ve seen, for example, the price of a decent, trusty old Lee Enfield No.4 rifle sell for £250 with some as little £150-200, now you will struggle to find one for less than £350. Ammunition has had a likewise increase, 10 years ago Prvi Partizan .303 was around £50-55 per 100 rounds, now it is nearer £60-70. With this in mind, how does someone young, entering the sport do so on a small budget? This will focus primarily with Section 1 firearms, mainly because this is where my experience lies, however, some of what will be stated can be applied universally across the sport.

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As with anything, shop around, there are plenty of places you can snag a bargain, and if you buy smartly you can always trade up when the time comes. You’ll come accustom to buying things second hand, whether it be your gun cabinet, guns, cases and other such accessories. Many dealers now have websites that they keep updated, shop around for what you want, there are also the likes of guntrader.co.uk and gunstar.co.uk where bargains can also be found from time to time. Auction houses are also worth looking at from time to time, however, beware of commission and tax, if you aren’t careful and do not factor in these extra costs you can turn what you thought was a good deal to an unnecessary extravagance. Forums and the various online shooting communities are often a good place to grab a good deal, I have personally been fortunate enough to have had such good luck with a couple of my rifles. A good deal can also be found in the most surprising of places. As a student I started to do my weekly food shop at Aldi, it was my local supermarket and it is cheap, however, after a few visits I had already acquired some well-priced shooting accessories, namely callipers, a spotting scope and boxes to store various pieces of shooting kit.

With regards to accessories, there are some items you simply need to fork out on, but where you can try to improvise. Items such as shooting mats need not be a great expense until you decide you want a proper shooting mat, sleeping bag rolls and off cuts of carpet make great short-term expedients. When I plink with fullbore rifles I tend to use a front rest, until recently this has been either my rucksack that holds everything I take to the range or an army surplus ammunition can with a gun bag folded on top, not the best or most comfortable of rest but a good temporary measure. Money can also be saved on targets where appropriate, investing in some target patches if you club does not supply them means the same target can be used until it is literally so shot up it can no longer be patched. These are just some of the items that can be improvised or reused, undoubtedly many more imaginative minds than my own can come up with a great deal more possibilities.

Be mindful of what you actually want in terms of what gun or guns you buy, if you want to plink away with a fullbore rifle from 1-600 yards then a Mosin Nagant is the way to go. The Russian workhorses are some of the best budget fun you can have with a fullbore rifle, with rifles and carbines varying in price from £140-250 they make good cheap and cheerful rifles. Other possibilities include the Portuguese Mauser-Vergueiro in 7.92×57, these are wonderfully smooth and accurate rifles, though not as common as the Mosins they can still be very inexpensive rifles to buy. Alongside the aforementioned surplus rifles there is also the legendary Swiss Schmidt Rubin series of rifles and the later K31, all of which are wonderfully accurate rifles that are usually less than £350 and can, if one is lucky, be found for less than £300. In the realm of fullbore target rifles, older models still perform well if you can find a rifle with a good barrel, the old Parker Hale T4 and 1200TX are both good examples of decent targets rifles that won’t break the bank. For gallery rifle, Rossi lever actions can provide a cheaper alternative to Marlins and there are numerous Ruger 10/22s that can be bought and later modified. Many also forget that for a bit of fun, or for serious target shooting, black powder pistols can more often than not be bought second hand for less than £150. The possibilities and endless, and the list I have provided above may seem long but is in reality only a fraction of what is available to a young shooter on a tight budget if they are willing to look hard enough.

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Those of you who have FACs or are applying for one may notice that in the section where you record the acquisition of a firearm it states that a firearm can be leant, this is a good way of being able to use multiple rifles especially if you are a university shooting group, or a group of close shooting friends. For arguments sake, say there are 3 of you, all of you have slots for .22RF, .357/.38 and .303 rifles, but each of you can only afford one rifle, you each select one calibre, buy the rifle and when it comes to a shoot where all 3 of you aren’t able to attend, the non-attendee simply lends his rifle to someone who has an open slot in that particular calibre. It will require a 1 for 1 variation on return to its owner for the borrower, however, it is a good way of having access to multiple firearms as a group. A similar and less formal rule also applies for SGCs which can make the lives of young aspiring clay shooting groups easier.

Unlike many hobbies and sports, with shooting there is also the continual cost after the large initial outlay of money, namely ammunition. Most of the old sweats in the shooting community will tell you that hand loading ammunition is the way forward, it’s cheaper and is often more consistent than factory ammunition. These are all valid points, but for most young shooters hand loading is simply not an option, either the initial outlay for a press and other necessities is too great or there is simply nowhere to house a press. There are two remedies to this, either invest in a compact Lee Hand Press or be careful in your choice of calibres.

For the sake of this article I will avoid the intricacies of hand loading and instead focus on the careful selection of calibres. There are still some forms of cheap ammunition to be had, .22LR for a start can be sourced for around £3 for a box of 50, this allows for basic marksmanship skills and competitive shooting on a tight budget. For fullbore ammunition, military surplus when it is to be had is often a good source of economy ammunition, 7.62x54R, 7.62×39, 7.92×57 and 7.62×51 are the most common and reasonably priced surplus rounds, however, others do appear from time to time. When military surplus is not available there are also a few brands of ammunition which make various rounds at very reasonable prices, S&B and Barnaul come to mind, though not always as cheap as surplus they are usually better rounds with a marginal increase in price.

In summary, shooting is as expensive as you want it to be, within reason. Costs can be managed and expensive items more often than not can wait until fortunes are better in the future. Hopefully this article will show young new shooters that cost does not always have to be a restricting factor in your participation in this great hobby, some imagination, careful research and shopping around can make this sport more than affordable, even on a tight budget.

Young Guns

Dave Voisey has kindly provided us with the following guest article entitled Young Guns, please give it a read and share it. If you would like to write a guest article or assist us with content for the website, please get in touch with us via e-mail at contact@firearmsuk.org.

I’ve often helped new members of the clubs that I belong to learn how to shoot and ease into club life. One thing that has often shocked them is not only my age, but also how long I have been shooting for. At the age of 23 I have 10 years of shooting under my belt, 6 of those as a Firearms and Shotgun Certificate holder, it goes without saying that I am part of a new generation of shooters, those who started shooting after the pistol ban. We are the social media generation, the Facebook and Youtube generation, a generation that is more widely connected than ever, with many of us knowing shooters across the globe due to the new forms of media. We are active and we are passionate about the sport and about our rights, it does not go unnoticed that in the university club that I am a part of that many of the members wish to partake in shooting handguns and centre fire self-loaders. With this in mind, the question is not how to make young shooters active, but, how to encourage more of us to take up the fantastic sport of shooting in one or several of its many guises.

Cambridge University Target Rifle 1st Team

Cambridge University Target Rifle 1st Team, courtesy Lizzie Potter

It cannot fail to pass the notice of shooters that we are an ageing population with many clubs having an average membership age in the region of 40 to 50 years old. In many clubs there is a complete scarcity of young members, especially those who are 25 and under, it is even rare to find someone in this age group who did not start shooting with a member of the family. Obviously if the sport is to survive, grow and potentially take back the rights that have been stolen from us then we collectively need to recruit more ‘young guns’. Just to make it clear, this is merely a piece of brainstorming as some of the ideas mentioned here may not be practical to all clubs, the usual financial, time, insurance and range certification limitations will make some options viable, many impractical and a few impossible to a number of clubs.

Firstly, beware of the costs, the main reason many new members to clubs in are in their 30s is because, for many, this is the age range when shooting can become relatively affordable as a sport. For those under 25 cost is often the major issue, schooling, low income part-time jobs, university loans and the ensuing debt limit the budget for many under 25s. Most clubs already have a junior membership fee, usually around half the price of the membership fee for those who are 18 and above. Some clubs have a student membership rate comparable to that of the juniors, this I highly recommend if your club can afford, university students often have some disposable income, and from experience they are more than happy to spend what they have on their chosen club.

Brunel University Target Shooting Club

Brunel University Target Shooting Club

Be exciting, even for the most avid shooter the same discipline can after sometime become tiring, for new young shooters, especially those not initiated into the community by cadet forces or scout groups, disciplines such as target rifle can seem rather stale. I am not saying that target rifle is, I initially started off as a prone target rifle shooter, but there does seem to be a general trend in young shooters to go for the more ‘exciting’ disciplines, with practical shotgun, mini-rifle and gallery rifle. I am not advocating the wholesale abandonment of one discipline for another, but if your range or club can accommodate for several disciplines then take them on, and where possible add even more to your clubs repertoire.

Adam Webb Photography - UKC

Adam Webb Photography – UKC

Make connections, it is easy enough for me to say make yourself more attractive as a club to younger shooters and make yourself more affordable within the confines of what your club can realistically manage, but, it is another thing actually bringing in these ‘young guns’. Some universities have shooting clubs that are well entrenched into uni life, some have their own guns, kit and ranges and many of these clubs have managed well on their own for decades. What is of concern to this article are fledgling university clubs, those that can only survive with the help of already established clubs. Range space is scarce in this country and setting up a live firing range is a difficult and costly activity in its own right, let alone trying to do this on a university budget and on university property. The remedy to this can be one of 2 routes; clubs can either rent their ranges out to university clubs that have gained Home Office approval (factoring cost of course) or set up a student membership, integrating the university club, whilst allowing it to maintain some autonomy. If possible try to set up an exclusive shooting session every so often for them. The latter is probably the easiest and most cost effective route to take for the university clubs, admittedly it will involve more work for the clubs, but this is the cost of a potentially large young membership. With all of this in mind if you have a new member who has joined as he has moved to your club as their university is nearby or if you’re a young shooter going to university think about setting up a club if there is not already one there.

Brunel University Target Shooting Club

Brunel University Target Shooting Club

There is also another body of young potential shooters who often go overlooked, cadet forces and scout groups, whose members will have some form of experience in the shooting and safe handling of firearms. This potential pool of new shooters is surprisingly untapped by most clubs, I know of a couple of clubs that do have a system in place with local cadet or scout groups but these clubs seem to be the exception rather than the rule. With this in mind, get in contact with local groups, many cadet forces and scout groups lack adequate range facilities and many may jump at the chance to get some more range time and training.

In conclusion, the ‘young guns’ are the shooting community’s future, without them we simply cannot survive, they are also a potentially vital source in our struggle to repeal the unjust restriction that have been foisted upon us. There is no doubt that the current crop of young shooters are active and will do what they can for their sports, we just need more of them. As previously stated, there is no expectation for clubs to go through a wholesale transformation process, but as the old cliché goes, ‘every little helps’ and one more young shooter who joins the sport brings with them many more potential shooters. Shooters who will learn the great lessons that shooting can teach, discipline, control and respect among others.

Cambridge University Ladies Target Rifle Team, Courtesy Lizzie Potter

Cambridge University Ladies Target Rifle Team, Courtesy Lizzie Potter