Abbildungen der Seite

the touch-hole the feather of a partridge's wing, -We would also advise him to have his fowlwhich will not only clear it of these dangerous ing-piece a little elevated at the muzzle, and the remains, but, if the piece is delayed to be re- sight small and flat; for the experienced well charged, will take away all humidity that may know, that it is more usual to shoot low than be contracted there.

high. It is, therefore, of service that a piece Every sportsman has his own manner of bring- should shoot a little high, and then, the more ing his gun up to his shoulder, and of taking flat the sight, the better the line of aim will coaim; and each follows his own fancy with re incide with the line of fire, and in consequence spect to the stock of his fowling-piece, and its the gun will be less liable to shoot low. shape. Some like it long, others short; one The method by which to avoid missing a crossprefers it straight, another bent. And, although shot, whether it be flying or running, is not only there are some sportsmen who shoot equally to take aim before the object, but likewise not well with pieces stocked in different ways and involuntarily to stop the motion of the arms, at shapes, yet certain principles may be laid down the moment of pulling the trigger ; for the inas well upon what is the proper length, as upon stant the hand stops in order to fire, although the proper bent, that the stock of a gun should the space of time be almost imperceptible, the have. But in the application sucli principles object, if a bird, gets beyond the line of aim, and are very frequently, nay, most commonly, coun the shot will fly behind it; and if a hare or rabteracted, by the whim or the particular conveni- bit be shot at in this manner, whilst runging, and ence of the shooter. Generally speaking, how- especially if at a distance, the animal will only ever, it is certain, that for a tall long-armed man be slightly struck in the buttocks, and will be the stock of a gun should be longer than for one taken but by hazard. When a bird, however, is of a less stature and shorter arm. That a straight flying in a straight line from the shooter, this stock is proper for him who has high shoulders, fault can do no harm; the object can scarcely and a short neck ; for, if it be much bent, it escape, if the piece be but tolerably well directwould be very difficult for him, especially in the ed, unless, indeed, it is fired at the moment the quick motion required in shooting at a flying or game springs, and before the birds have taken running object, to place the butt of the gun a horizontal flight. In that case, if the hand stock firmly lo the shoulder ; the upper part stop ever so little at the instant of firing, the alone would in general be fixed, which would sportsman will shoot low, and inevitably miss pot only raise the muzzle, and consequently the mark. It becomes, therefore, extremely esshcot high, but make the recoil more sensibly sential to accustom the hand, in taking aim, to felt than if the whole end of the stock were follow the object, without suspending the mofirmly placed on the shoulder. Besides, sup- tion in the least degree, which is a capital point posing the sportsman to bring the butt home to towards acquiring the art of shooting well: the his shoulder, he would scarcely be able to level contrary habit, which is very difficult to correct, his piece at the object. On the contrary, a man when once contracted, prevents that person from with low shoulders, and a long neck, requires a attaining perfection in the art, who, in other restock much bent : for, if it is straight, he will, in spects, may eminently possess quickuess of sight the act of lowering his head to that place of the and steadiness of aim. stock at which his cheek should rest, in taking Nor is it less essential in a cross-shot to aim aim, feel a constraint, which he never experi- before the object in proportion to its distance, at ences, when, by the effect of the proper degree the time of firing. If a partridge, for instance, fly of bent, the stock lends him some assistance, across at the distance of thirty or five-and-thirty and, as it were, meets his aim half-way. Inde- paces, it will be sufficient to take aim at the head, pendently, however, of these principles, the ap- or, at most, but a small space before. The same plication of which is subject to a variety of mo rule will nearly hold in the cases of shooting quails, difications, we venture to advise the sportsman woodcocks, pheasants, or wild ducks, although in the choice of a fowling-piece, that a long these birds move their wings slower than the parstock is preferable to a short one, and, at the tridge. But, if the object be fifty, sixty, or sesame time, rather more bent than usual ; for a venty paces distant, it then becomes necessary to long stock sits firmer to the shoulder than a short aim at least half a foot before the head.

The one, and particularly so when the shooter is ac same practice should be observed in shooting at customed to place his left hand, which princi- a hare or rabbit when running in a cross direcpally supports the piece, near to the entrance of tion, making due allowance for the distance, and the ramrod into the stock. The practice of for the swiftness of the pace, which is not always placing that hand near the bridge of the guard the same. It is also proper, in shooting at an is undoubtedly a bad one : the aim is never so object very distant, to take aim a little above it, sure, nor has the shooter such a ready command because shots, as well as balls, have but a certain over his piece, as when he places his hand near range in point blank, beyond which each begins the entrance of the ramrod, and at the same time to describe the curve of the parabola. strongly grasps the barrel; instead of resting it When a hare runs in a straight line from the between his fore-finger and thumb, in confor- shooter he should take his aim between the ears, mity with the general custom. It may, there- otherwise he will run the hazard either of missing, fore, be depended upon, that a stock bent a little or at least of not killing dead, or, as it is somemore than ordinary is better for shooting true times called, 'clean.' A true sportsman, who than one too straight, because the latter, in com- has the ambition of shooting well, is not content ing up to the aim, is subject to the inconveni- with only breaking the wing of a partridge, or the ence of causing the sportsman to shoot too high. thigb of a hare, when he shoots at'a fair distance

for, in such case, the hare or the partridge ought tally desert the plains and open grounds. The to be shot in such a manner that it should remain game is more easily approached, or, in the lanin the place where it falls, and not require the guage of sporting, lies better,' in covert than in assistance of dogs to take it. But if he shoots at open places: a double advantage is therefore oba great distance it is no reproach that the par- tained by hunting for thein in the former. He tridge is only winged, or the hare wounded, so should, at all times of the shooting season, go out that it cannot escape.

in the morning before the dew is off. At that Practice soon teaches the sportsman the proper time the shepherds and their flocks, the husbanddistance at which he should shoot. The distance men and their teams, have not entirely spread at which he ought infallibly to kill any kind of over the fields, and have as yet sprung bul a game with patent shot (No. 3), provided the aim small quantity of game; the scents of the prebe well taken, is from twenty-five to thirty-five ceding night will also be more warm, and the paces for the footed, and from forty to forty-five dogs will hit them off better. Besides, if he be paces for the winged game. Beyond this distance, not early, he loses such opportunities of shooting even to fifty or fifty-five paces, both partridges as he will not meet again during the remainder and bares are sometimes killed, but, in general, of the day. All these advantages, therefore, hares are only slightly wounded, and carry away greatly counterbalance the notion generally rethe shot; and partridges, at that distance, pre- ceived, that, as the birds will not lie well while sent so small a surface, that they frequently escape the ground is wet, the sportsman should not go untouched between the vacant spaces of the circle. out early in the morning, or before the dew is Yet it does not follow that a partridge may not gone off. be killed with No. 3, patent shot, at sixty, and The color of the dress which the shooter should even seventy paces distance; but then these wear is worthy of notice. Green is unquestionably shots are very rare. Those who know the range the best in the early part of the season, whilst of a fowling-piece, and the closeness of its shot, the leaves remain on the trees. For, if he be shrug up their shoulders at the romances of sports- clad in a glaring color when the face of the counmen who, according to their own accounts, daily try retains its verdure, the game will perceive kill with shot (No. 3) at the distance of ninety his approach more easily, and from a greater disand 100 paces.

Nay, some even go so far as to tance. In winter, for the same reason, his dress assert that they have killed, with this sized shot, should be composed of a dark brown, or some hares at 110 paces, and pheasants at 120. It color resembling that of the dead leaf. cannot, however, be denied, that with shot No.5, It is best to hunt as much as possible against a man may have killed a hare or a partridge at the wind, not only to prevent the game from per110, or possibly at 120 paces; but then these ceiving the approach of the sportsman and his shots are so extraordinary, and occur so seldom, dog, but also to enable the dog to scent the game that the whole life of a sportsman will scarcely at a greater distance. We say as much as posafford more than two or three instances; and sible, because in advancing and returning upon when it does happen it will be found to be by a his steps in order to range the ground well, the single pellet, which, by great chance, has hit shooter cannot always keep the advantage of the either the wing or the head of the partridge, or wind. When, therefore, it is proposed to hunt has struck the head of the hare, by which it is any particular tract of country in which gaine is stunned, or perhaps has penetrated the small expected to be found, it is indispensably necespart of the shoulder, where there is, to prevent sary to take the wind, and it behoves the shooter the wound being mortal, only a very thi skin, to range and quarter his ground in such manner which, being stretched by the animal in running, and direction as to preserve it in his favor. is thereby rendered more easy to be pierced by He should never be discouraged from hunting the shot.

and ranging the same ground over and over For expertness in finding the game a sports- again, especially in places covered with heath, man must pay attention to the difference of the brambles, high grass, or young coppice-wood. seasons, and the weather ; to the temperature of A hare or rabbit will frequently suffer him to the air, and even to those hours of the day which pass several times within a few yards of its form are more or less favorable for shooting. In warm without getting up. He should be still more weather he should hunt for the game in plains patient when he has marked partridges into such and in open grounds, at the same time bearing in places; for it often happens that, after the birds mind that, during the heat of the day, the birds have been sprung many times, they lie so dead frequent moist places, marshes where there is that they will suffer him almost to tread upon little water and much high grass, the sides of them before they will rise. Pheasants, quails, rivers and brooks, and hills exposed to the north. and woodcocks do the same. He should always But, in cold weather, they will most cominonly keep a sharp eye, and carefully look about him, be found on little bills exposed to the south, never passing a bush or a tuft of grass without along hedge-rows, among the heath, in stubbles, examination; but he should never strike either and in pastures where there is much furze and with the muzzle of his gun, for the reasons asfern. In hard frosts they get into thickets, low signed where we speak of wadding. It is also places, and marshes, where they seek to shelter proper to stop every now and then ; for this inthemselves from the cold, as well as the heat, in terruption of motion frequently determines the different seasons.

The greatest part, however, game to spring, which would otherwise have sufof these rules will only apply when the weather fered him to pass. He who patiently beats and is extremely hot or severely cold, at both ranges his ground over and over again, without which times the hares and partridges almost to- being discouraged, will always kill the greatest Vol. XX.


[ocr errors]

quantity of game; and, if he be shooting in com is never to suffer them to rust, which may easily pany, he will find game where others have passed be prevented by frequently rubbing all the bright without discovering any: As soon as he has parts with a small brush, dipped in sweet oil, fired he should call in his dog, and make him which should be well rubbed off with a linen lie down until he has re-loaded his piece; for, rag: and this should never be neglected both without this precaution, he will frequently have before and after using it. It is needless to take the mortification to see the game rise when he the lock often to pieces : if you take it off and is not prepared to shoot.

brush it with plenty of oil, and pull up the cock In shooting in an open country, one of the and hammer a few times, the dirt with the oil will most essential points to be observed is, to mark work itself out, which is to be wiped off, and a the place where the partridges alight; therefore, little clean oil put on those parts where there is when he has killed his bird, he should not immedi- any friction will answer the purpose. ately run to pick it up, or attend to make his dog To wash out the barrel. - Fill it either with bring it to him, but he ought to follow the others cold or warm water, and empty it, and let it stand with his eye until he sees them settle, or as far a few minutes, and the air and moisture will as his sight can extend, without interruption froin soften the soil left from the firing of the powder, a wood or a hedge. In the latter case, although so as to come off the easier. You may use sand he have not been able to distinguish the exact with your rag or tow to wash it out, which will spot on which they have alighted, yet he may remove any of the soil that sticks hard to it without tolerably well guess whereabout they are, espe- hurting its smoothness. Care must be taken to cially if acquainted with the country in which wipe it very dry, and, if it is to be set by for a he is shooting. And, when two or more sports- time, it will be proper to wipe it out with an men shoot in company, each should mark the oily rag, and to stop the muzzle with the same, birds which fly on his own side. These general otherwise it will be apt to rust. rules will, with equal propriety, apply to all Of the stock, lock, &c.—The wood which is game of course or feather. We might next pro- most commonly employed for the stock, and ceed to the detail of particular directions for hare which appears the best for the purpose, is walnut. and rabbit, partridge, pheasant, grouse, woodcock, It is only necessary, however, to observe, that the snipe, and wild fowl shooting; but, as these would grain be even and close, and as free as possible draw this article to too great a length, we shall from knots and burs, which, though they may add conclude it with a few observations respecting to the beauty of the stock, seldom fail to take guns, powder, and shot.

away from its strength, unless they are conTo make gun barrels of a fine brown color.- fined entirely to the butt part. As to the curvaAs a brown barrel seems to be the most pleasing ture, no particular degree can be assigned as a to a sportsman, the following is a certain and standard; different persons requiring different easy method of giving it this hue :-Rub your degrees, according to the length of their neck, barrel bright with sand paper, or if bright, scour and to the manner in which they hold their head it with dry brickdust to take off all greasiness, whilst taking aim. This, however, as well as the and fit a stick or piece of wood into the muzzlé length of the butt, which depends partly upon long enough to hold Bruise roughly about the circumstances just mentioned, but chiefly half an ounce of stone-brimstone, and sprinkle upon the length of the arms, can be determined it over a gentle fire either of wood, or coal, or with great accuracy by the gunsmith from obcharcoal ; hold your barrel over the smoke, serving the manner in which the shooter presents turning and drawing it backward and forward his piece and takes his aim. until it be equally tinged all over ; this done, set With regard to the locks, we shall only observe it in a cellar or damp room till next day, in which that the genius and industry of the English worktime you will find it has thrown out a fine rust, men have already brought them to such a deover which you may draw your finger to spread gree of elegance and perfection that we have it even, and let it stand another day. If you scarcely any thing farther to hope for, or require. perceive any parts that have not taken the rust, The real improvements are not confined to any scour such parts bright, and repeat the above particular maker; and, though the minutiæ pecuoperation. It is then to be polished with a hard liar to each may determine the purchaser in his brush (first rubbed with bees’-wax), and after- preference, no person need fear much disappointwards with a dry woollen or rough linen rag, ment in the essential qualities of a lock, provided which will make it look of a beautiful brown he goes to the price of a good one. It is of much color. This rubbing must be repeated every day more consequence to the excellence of a lock, that so long as it throws out any roughness. No oil the springs be proportioned to each other, than or grease should come on it for some time, as that they should all be made very strong. A mothat may bring off the rust in places ; but if by derate degree of force is sufficient to produce the neglect it should get so strong a roughness that required effect; and whatever exceeds this proves you cannot get it down with common rubbing, detrimental, by rendering the trigger difficult to in that case wipe it over with sweet oil, and rub draw, or producing such a stroke as breaks the it off gently with a clean linen rag, and the next flints, or throws the piece from the direction in day you may polish it down with your brush as which it was pointed. If the main-spring be very before directed.

strong, and the hammer-spring weak, the cock is Directions for keeping your guns in order.-If often broken for want of sufficient resistance to your lock and furniture be bright, the best way its stroke, until it is stopped all at once by the to save the trouble, as well as to prevent the check of the lock-plate. Whilst, on the other damage that may be done by unskilful polishing, hand, if the hammer-spring be stiff, and the main

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

spring weak, the cock has not sufficient force to important to the sportsman, that we have often drive back the hammer. And, in both cases, the been astonished at the almost total neglect which collision between the flint and steel is too slight to attends this part of the shooting science : but he produce the necessary fire. The face of the ham- may henceforward be assured, that, without the mer, also, may be too hard or too soft. The for- utmost circumspection and care herein, his highmer is known by the frint making scarcely any priced fowling-piece will but little avail him; impression upon it, and the sparks being few and mortification and disgust will generally ensue, very small. The latter by the flint cutting deep and the gunsmith too frequently be blamed for into the hammer at every stroke, whilst the sparks the fault which the sportsman alone has created are also few in number, and of a dull-red color. by his own neglect. Gunpowder is composed of When the strength of the springs, and the temper very light charcoal, sulphur, and well refined of the hammer, are in due degree, the sparks saltpetre. The powder used by sportsmen in are numerous, brilliant, and accompanied with a shooting game is generally composed of six parts considerable whizzing noise. To explain these of saltpetre, one of charcoal, and one of suldifferences, it is necessary to observe that the phur; but these proportions, as well as the insparks produced by the collision of flint and troduction of other ingredients, and the sizes of steel are particles of the metal driven off in a the grains, are undoubtedly varied by the dif strongly heated state, and which, falling among ferent manufacturers in the composition of the the powder, inflame it instantly. By snapping a powders of the same denomination, and are gun or pistol over a sheet of white paper, we always kept profoundly secret. Powder, howmay collect these sparks, and, by submitting ever well dried and fabricated it may have been, them to a microscope, demonstrate the fact. If loses its strength when allowed to become damp. the sparks be very brilliant, and accompanied If daily observations on powder put into damp with a whizzing noise, we shall find the particles magazines, and carefully preserved in barrels, collected on the paper to be little globules of are not sufficient to establish this fact, the folsteel, which have not only been melted, but lowing experiment will renderit incontestable:have actually undergone a considerable degree Let a quantity of well-dried powder be nicely of vitrification from the intensity of the heat ex- weighed, and put into a close room, where the cited by the collision, their surface exactly re- air is temperate, and seemingly dry, and be left sembling the slag thrown out from an iron for three or four hours; on weighing it again, its foundry. When the face of the hammer is 100 weight will be increased. This same powder, hard, the particles which the flint strikes off are exposed to an air loaded with vapor, acquires so small that they are cooled before they fall much additional weight in a short time. Now the into the pan; and, when the hammer is too soft, increase of the weight being proportional to the the particles driven off are so large as not to be quantity of vapor contained in the atmosphere, sufficiently heated to fire the powder. We think and to the length of time that the powder is exthe conical form of the touch-hole a real im- posed to it; it follows, that powder

easily attracts provement; but do not approve of its widening moisture. Wherefore, if a degree of heat sufficient so much as it does in the patent-breech, as the only to fire dry powder be applied to powder that force of the fuse against the opening into the is damp, the moisture will oppose the action of pan is greatly increased by it. Gold pans are of the fire, and the grains either will not take fire at very little advantage; for, as the iron must be all, or their inflammation will be slower; thus, softened before they can be applied, it is very as the fire will spread more slowly, fewer grains liable to rust, and thus destroy its connexion with will burn; and the penetration of the fire from the gold; the tin, also, by means of which the the surface to the centre of each grain, and gold lining is fixed, is frequently melted by the consequently their consumption, will require fire of the fuse being directed upon the bottom more time. Whence it may be concluded that of the pan, and the gold thereby detached from all degrees of moisture diminish the force of its hold ; this will happen more readily when powder. Saltpetre, not sufficiently refined, atthe touch-hole is placed very low, and when, tracts moisture very readily; and as the subfrom its form or width, the fire of the fuse is con stances that render it impure lessen the quantity siderable. A great improvement, however, has of Auid, and prevent its detonation, it should be lately been made in the manner of putting in the refined as much as possible before it is employed gold pans; they are now dove-tailed in before in the fabrication of gunpowder. The force of the lock-plate is hardened, by which means they powder is owing to an elastic fluid generated at seldom or never blow out; and it is now found the explosion, the suddenness of which dependsthat they will stand better than any other upon the proportion of the ingredients, the conspecies of pan, provided the lock is eased from tact between the nitrous and combustible parthe touchhole, or taken off when the barrel is ticles, and the size of the grains, &c. Hence it taken out of the stock. Still we are of opinion may be concluded that when several powders, that the steel pan will be found, with common equally well dried, and fired under the same care in cleaning it, to last as long, and to an state of the atmosphere, are compared together, swer every purpose as well, as when lined with that which produces the greatest quantity of the gold.

elastic fluid, in a given space of time, is the Of the choice of gunpowder.— The excellence strongest. There are two general methods of of this article as to its properties, and the rela- examining gunpowder; one with regard to the tive condition in which it is at the time of purity of its composition, the other with regard using it, with respect to dryness, dampuess, or to its strength. Its purity is known by laying age, are in themselves circumstances so obviously two or three little heaps near each other upon

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

white paper, and firing one of them. For if this ture; and, perhaps, there is no greater proof of takes fire readily, and the smoke rises upright, the bad quality of powder than its growing without leaving any dross or feculant matter be- damp quickly when exposed to the air: this reahind, and without burning the paper, or firing diness to become moist depends upon the saltthe other heaps, it is esteemed a sign that the petre employed in the composition not having sulphur and nitre were well purified, that the been freed from the common salt it contains in coal was good, and that the three ingredients its crude state, and which, in consequence, has a were thoroughly incorporated together, but, if strong attraction for watery particles. Powder the other heaps also take fire at the same time, it may acquire a small degree of dampness, and be is presumed that either common salt was mixed freed from it again by drying, without much inwith the nitre, or that the coal was not well jury to its quality. But, if the moisture be conground, or the whole mass not well beat and mixed siderable, the saltpetre is dissolved, and the intitogether; and, if either the nitre or sulphur be not mate mixture of the ingredients thereby entirely well purified, the paper will be black or spotted. destroyed. Drying powder with too great a heat For proving the strength of gunpowder, a num- also injures it; for there is a degree of heat, ber of machines have been invented, all of which which, although not sufficient to fire the powder, are liable to many objections, and, upon trial with will yet dissipate the sulphur, and impair the comthe same powder, are found to give results so position by destroying the texture of the grains. different that no dependence can be placed in The heat of the sun is, perhaps, the greatest it them; to so many modifications are the principal can with safety be exposed to, and, if properly properties of powder subject, even in experiments managed, is sufficient for the purpose: when this conducted with the utmost care. These variations cannot be had, the beat of a fire, regulated to the have been attributed, by many, to the different same degree, may be employed; and for this end density of the atmosphere at the time of the dif- a heated pewter plate is perhaps as good as any ferent experiments; but the opinions upon this thing, because pewter retains so moderate a heat matter are so improbable in themselves, and so that there can be little danger of spoiling the contradictory to each othes, that they claim powder by producing the consequences before neither attention nor belief. Thus, some will have mentioned. it that gunpowder produces the greatest effect in It is observable that damp powder produces a the morning and evening, when the air is cool remarkable foulness in the fowling-piece after and dense; whilst others assert that its force is firing, much beyond what arises from an equal greatest in sunshine, and during the heat of the quantity of dry powder; and this seems to arise day. Mr. Robins concludes from the result of from the diminution of the activity of the fire in several hundred trials, made hy him at all times the explosion. Unless the sportsman is very parof the day, and in every season of the year, that ticular indeed in the mode of keeping his powder, the density of the atmosphere has no effect in this we would recommend him always to air it and his matter, and that we ought to attribute the varia- flask, before he takes the field. Flasks made of tions observed at these times to some other copper or tin are much better for keeping powder cause than the state of the air : probably they in than those made of leather, or than smal! are owing to the imperfection of the instrument, casks: the necks of these should be small, and or to the manner in which the trial was con- well stopped with cork. After this dissertation ducted. In this state of uncertainty, then, upon on gunpowder, it will naturally be expected that the theory of the effects of gunpowder, we re we point out to the sportsman the best powder main at this day.

for shooting; for this purpose we shall recomIf experiments, however, are made with the mend the Dartford powder of Messrs. Pigou prover, great care must be taken not to press the and Andrews, for being not only stronger, but powder in the smallest degree into the tube, but the cleanest in burning and the quickest in to pour it gently in; and particuļarly in trying firing, of any other at this time manufactured in the strength of different powders, which is the the kingdom; and we also venture to give it as best use to which the instrument, imperfect as it our opinion that the manufacturers of this powder is, can be applied, attention must be paid that seem to have attained, as nearly as any purpose one powder is not pressed closer than another at can require, that accuracy of granulation, and of each experiment, nor the successive experiments the proportions and qualities of all the ingremade until the prover is cool, otherwise no com- dients, which most readily produces the destrucparative certainty can be gained. By far the tion of all the composition, and yields the greatest most certain method, however, of determining possible quantity of the permanent elastic fluid the quality of powder, is by drying some of it in a given time; which properties alone can convery well, and then trying how many sheets of stitute powder of the best quality. paper it will drive the shot through, at the dis Of shot.—The choice of this article is highly tance of ten or twelve yards. In this trial we worthy of the sportman's care. It should be should be careful to employ the same sized shot equal, round, and void of cavities. The patent in each experiment, the quantity both of the shot milled shot is, at this time, to be preferred to all and the powder being regulated by exact weight; other sorts, and is in such general use that the otherwise we cannot, even in this experiment, instructions which here follow on the size of the arrive to any certainty in comparing the strength shot to be adopted in the different chases must of different powders, or of the same powder at be understood to relate to the patent shot only. different times. Powder ought to be kept very It is extremely important for the success of dry; every degree of moisture injures it. Good the chase that the sportsman should proportion powder, however, does not readily imbibe mois- the size of his shot, as well to the particular spe

« ZurückWeiter »