I have recently been reading an interesting book on pigeon shooting by Will Garfit. I have just kitted myself out with the hide, decoys and got my membership with NPPC to start some pigeon shooting from late October onwards.
I can't wait to actually get out in the field and learn the tricks of the trade. Field craft will of course play a big part in whether my days out will be successful or not and Wills book gives some great advice to beginners on everything you need to know and should consider before starting out Pigeon Shooting.
Having spent a year or two dusting clays, I must admit that I am starting to find them a little 'samey'. Not to mention, you can't eat the clays you shoot! One reason I wanted to get in to shooting was to also get out in to the countryside and enjoy the outdoors and nature. I am looking forward to being sat in my hide and enjoying the tranquillity of the countryside and having some real 'me time'. I also look forward to the challenge that the birds will bring and the challenge of learning best decoying techniques and building effective hides etc.
One topic that did interest me in Wills book was cartridge choice when it comes to pigeons. Having been shooting clays I most often shoot anything from Hull CompX (21g 7.5 shot) up to the 28g load. I have never been to fussy and have used a mix of Eley, Cheddite, Fiocchi, Hull, Gamebore - Anything that will break a clay. When it comes to live quarry however, I am keen to ensure i find a cartridge that will provide optimal performance but a clean ethical kill.
I was suprised to find that Will recommends a 28 gram 7.5 shot load as the optimal pigeon shooting load. Especially when all I have heard is people swear by the slightly larger 30 gram 6 shot loads such as Gamebore Clear Pigeon. The figures provided were as follows:
28g, 7.5 shot (385 pellets @ 2.3mm)
30g, 6 shot (287 pellets @ 2.6mm)
You see a 25% reduction in pellet count going from the 28g to the 30g load which seems to be a larger variance than the relatively small change in shot size of 0.3mm. So perhaps 28g 7.5 shot is the most effective. Or should we say the best happy medium? There will of course be instances on any day out where any the cartridge you have will not be fit for every job but perhaps is the optimal all rounder load?
Personally I really like the Gamebore clear pigeon loads but it certainly would be handy to only have one 'go to' cartridge for clays and pigeons as most clay grounds restrict you to a maximum of 28 gram loads. With Wills recommendation I am going to see how my usual clay loads (28g, 7.5 shot) perform out in the field and will be sure to update on the matter as I trial this.