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HEDGE POPPING.

When the potato can be pretty certainly hit, let the young shooter try his hand at any bird flying by in the fields, hedges being generally beaten for this purpose ; or if he has no opportunity for this, let him procure some sparrows, and shoot them either from the hand or from a trap, such as is used in pigeon trap-shooting (which see p. 14). Should the sparrows be too quick, put their heads through a hole in a small piece of paper, which will retard their flight, and in course of time practice will enable this to be dispensed with. Swallows are bad marks because they are occasionally almost still while hawking, and can then be readily shot. In every case the shooter must endeavour to aim in front of a bird or other animal moving quickly, and for most birds of tolerably quick flight, at forty yards' distance a foot will not be too much to allow on the average. So also in animals approaching or leaving the gun, the aim must be over them, or they will inevitably be missed. With these directions, if patiently and assiduously carried out, the young sportsman will only want to acquire steadiness of nerve to become as skilful in shooting game as, after proper practice, be ought to be in dropping sparrows and other birds of similar small value.

ROOK SHOOTING WITH THE SHOT-GUN AND RIFLE. Rook shooting with the shot-gun is an amusement which will be of little service in improving the young sportsman, because he will get few flying shots, and those at sitting birds are of very little more use in giving him practice than a target, or a sparrow on the housetop. Young rooks are on the average of seasons out of the nest towards the middle or end of May, and just before they can fly from the trees is the time generally seized by those who care about the “bag.” If left till they can fly well, the first report of the gun or rifle sends them all off out of shot, and hence the air-gun and cross-bow are occasionally selected for rook shooting on account of their noiseless action. But even with the gun a flying shot may occasionally be obtained, and no sportsman worthy of the name would think of shooting at rooks while sitting, excepting with the object of filling a pie. A strong shooting gun and No. 5 shot will be required, or a rifle of small bore specially made for rook and rabbit shooting, as will be explained under the head of THE RIFLE. When the latter is used, the rook may be shot sitting without any compunction, because, at one hundred yards, which is often the distance of the shooter from his mark, it is by no means easy to hit so small an object. With the shot-gun, on the contrary, the distance is the only difficulty, and it is often only by getting directly under the trees, that these birds can be brought within forty or fifty yards, which is a fair range for an ordinary gun. Eley's cartridges may be used even at one hundred yards, with a good prospect of cutting down young rooks ; but unless the trees are low, when loose shot will succeed, I should strongly recommend the rifle, as being more sportsmanlike than the shot-gun. The particular kind of rifle suited to this purpose will be hereafter described.

CHAPTER II.

PIGEON AND SPARROW TRAP-SHOOTING.

REMARKS-LAWS OF PIGEON SHOOTING PRACTICAL DIRECTIONS FOR

PIGEON AND SPARROW TRAP-SHOOTING.

PIGEON SHOOTING for some years past has been confined to the frequenters of low public-houses in the large towns; but in the year 1858 the amusement suddenly became fashionable, Lord Huntingfield, the Earl of Stamford, the Hon. Dudley Ward, and Mr. Bateson, having repeatedly shot matches at Hornsey Wood House, which has now taken the place of the Red House, Battersea, once the scene of the triumphs of Mr. Osbaldeston, Captain Ross, and others of almost equal note. A great improvement has been intro

HEDGE POPPING.

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When the potato can be pretty certainly hit, let the young shooter try his hand at any bird flying by in the fields, hedges being generally beaten for this purpose; or if he has no opportunity for this, let him procure some sparrows, and shoot them either from the hand or from a trap, such as is used in pigeon trap-shooting (which see p. 14). Should the sparrows be too quick, put their heads through a hole in a small piece of paper, which will retard their flight, and in course of time practice will enable this to be dispensed with. Swallows are bad marks because they are occasionally almost still while hawking, and can then be readily shot. In every case the shooter must endeavour to aim in front of a bird or other animal moving quickly, and for most birds of tolerably quick flight, at forty yards distance a foot will not be too much to allow on the average. So also in animals approaching or leaving the gun, the aim must be over them, or they will inevitably be missed. With these directions, if patiently and assiduously carried out, the young sportsman will only want to acquire steadiness of nerve to become as skilful in shooting game as, after proper practice, he ought to be in dropping sparrows and other birds of similar small value.

ROOK SHOOTING WITH THE SHOT-GUN AND RIFLE.

Rook shooting with the shot-gun is an amusement which will be of little service in improving the young sportsman, because he will get few flying shots, and those at sitting birds are of very little more use in giving him practice than a target, or a sparrow on the housetop. Young rooks are on the average of seasons out of the nest towards the middle or end of May, and just before they can fly from the trees is the time generally seized by those who care about the “bag.” If left till they can fly well, the first report of the gun or rifle sends them all off out of shot, and hence the air-gun and cross-bow are occasionally selected for rook shooting on account of their noiseless action. But even with the gun a flying shot may occasionally be obtained, and no sportsman worthy of the name would think of shooting at rooks while sitting, excepting with the object of filling a pie. A strong shooting gun and No. 5 shot will be required, or a rifle of small bore specially made for rook and rabbit shooting, as will be explained under the head of THE RIFLE. When the latter is used, the rook may be shot sitting without any compunction, because, at one hundred yards, which is often the distance of the shooter from his mark, it is by no means easy to hit so small an object. With the shot-gun, on the contrary, the distance is the only difficulty, and it is often only by getting directly under the trees, that these birds can be brought within forty or fifty yards, which is a fair range for an ordinary gun. Eley's cartridges may be used even at one hundred yards, with a good prospect of cutting down young rooks; but unless the trees are low, when loose shot will succeed, I should strongly recommend the rifle, as being more sportsmanlike than the shot-gun. The particular kind of rifle suited to this purpose will be hereafter described.

CHAPTER II.

PIGEON AND SPARROW TRAP-SHOOTING.

REMARKS-LAWS OF PIGEON SHOOTING-PRACTICAL DIRECTIONS FOR

PIGEON AND SPARROW TRAP-SHOOTING.

PIGEON SHOOTING for some years past has been confined to the frequenters of low public-houses in the large towns; but in the year 1858 the amusement suddenly became fashionable, Lord Huntingfield, the Earl of Stamford, the Hon. Dudley Ward, and Mr. Bateson, having repeatedly shot matches at Hornsey Wood House, which has now taken the place of the Red House, Battersea, once the scene of the triumphs of Mr. Osbaldeston, Captain Ross, and others of almost equal note. A great improvement has been introduced by getting rid of the small cannon which were formerly in vogue, and substituting the ordinary sportsman's double-barrelled gun, with occasionally two birds to be shot at "right and left." Greater quickness than before even is consequently required in shooting; for not only has the shooter to take his first bird as soon as he can, but he has also to consider his second. The sport may now constitute pretty good practice preparatory to game-shooting; but it has the objection that it encourages quick shooting too much, and in the early part of the season it tends to lead the young sportsman astray. Still it gives considerable command over the second barrel, and, though a good pigeon shot may not be equally clever at grouse or partridges, he will assuredly be better after this practice than he was before. Sparrows are thought by some to be more useful than pigeons in teaching shooting; but the distance within which No. 7 or 8 will kill them with certainty is not more than thirty-five yards, and thus over-rapidity is still more likely to be acquired than in pigeon shooting.

LAWS OF PIGEON TRAP-SHOOTING.

The following rules are those usually adopted in the present day, but they are not received as generally binding; and in any conditions for a match or sweepstakes the rules by which the shooting is to be regulated should be distinctly specified :

1. Two referees and an umpire to be chosen, whose decision shall be final.

2. A boundary to the shooting-ground must be provided, if not already in existence. It should be, if possible, a boarded fence or a wall, and situated at from eighty to one hundred yards from the traps. These should be placed at twenty-one to twenty-five yards from the shooter; and if five in number, in a curve before him, each being equidistant from the mark, and from five to six yards apart. In the conditions the number of traps should be specified, and whether they are to be pulled at discretion or by tossing ; in the latter case, called H and T traps. A bird killed according to the conditions is scored “a fair bird;” if

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