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The Mystery Of The Prestigious Pigeon Guns

clay pigeon shooting- pigeon gunsOne of the most popular forms of sport shooting is clay pigeon shooting, and the fun comes not only in the satisfaction of seeing the clay shatter into pieces after a direct hit but also in the need for quick reflexes.

Shooting clays after the signature call of “pull!” is an immensely fun activity and one that is often hotly requested by visiting parties, but beyond people embracing the joy, fun and unique sensations of shooting for potentially the first time, there are others that take it incredibly seriously.

Sport hunting is an exceptionally serious pastime for some, and the particular unique challenges posed by pigeon shoots led to the creation of some of the most unique, unusual and prestigious guns ever made, made with the best components and aimed only by the best who could afford to buy them.

What Is A Pigeon Gun?

Before clay pigeons had been created, sport hunting was primarily done with live, trapped birds, a practice that has been banned since 1921 but is the reason why clay shooting has the characteristics that it does.

A gun that is “Pigeon Grade” was designed to be particularly well-suited to such competitions, which often had prizes in the tens of thousands of pounds and thus had a high level of competition who wanted a particularly substantial prize.

In most ways, a pigeon gun is like any other sporting gun; it is a double-barrelled shotgun that uses 12 gauge shells. However, the details are particularly different.

They often have longer gun barrels than a modern sport shotgun, they have a tighter choke which reduces the spread of pellets, a high, stepped comb now known as a Monte Carlo after a common site for high-stakes shooting, side clips and wide ribs.

They were typically heavier than a conventional field rifle of the era, but since in a competition, shooters were not expected to move, this in practice helped the gun to reduce recoil, have better balance and thus more accuracy.

They also did not feature a safety catch, unlike other shotguns, primarily to avoid a situation where a shooter believes they are ready, only to find their shotgun does not fire when they need it to.

They similarly featured a single action on the trigger to reduce the tension and thus the time between pulling the trigger and firing the shot.

However, beyond their properties as rifles, what makes them highly desirable is the level of ornamentation. Whilst decoration is not commonly found on sports rifles meant to be used, pigeon guns often had elaborate decorations and carvings in rare metals, often with beautiful carvings of birds on them.

They also featured the best components and the most high-quality materials that could be used at the time, as a well-made pigeon gun in the right hands could more than pay for itself in prize money.

These have made them desirable as collector’s items and unique hunting artefacts, which has caused their prices to increase dramatically as people are drawn to the allure of their elaborate designs.

They are a fascinating part of the story of sport hunting and whilst they are only very rarely made today, they still pique the interest of sport shooters.