A short history of shotguns and shooting…

Breechloader, c1537. Image from The Field magazine.
Breechloader, c1537. Image from The Field magazine.

I love history, and I’m read all sort of books on the history and evolution of shotguns and upland hunting. For a crash course in the subject, check out this piece: History of Shotgunning and Shooting. It’s from The Field magazine and it does a great job of outlining the backstory on doubles and shooting. It reveals a few surprises, too – like the breechloader shown from around 1537. I didn’t know breechloaders were being made that long ago.

History of Shotgunning and Shooting

By Mark Murray-Flutter and Edward Impey

Mark Murray -Flutter is senior curator, firearms at the Royal Armouries and Edward Impey is the director-general and master.

The history of the shotgun and shooting, from the reign of Henry VIII to 1800. How bird shooting went from its infancy to the eve of the sport we know today…
“The early history of the shotgun and shooting, before the invention of the breech-loading shotgun as we know it, was a greatly different business. From around 1500 to the eve of the great technical and sporting developments that made the shotgun what it is today, the history of the shotgun encompasses some fascinating historical pieces….”

A great video about James Purdey & Sons….

James Purdey & Sons is one of the world’s most famous gunmakers – and for good reason. They’ve been making some of the world’s finest rifles and shotguns for almost 200 years. This video is an interesting look inside the company. It’s good, but long (1 hour and 30 minutes). To make it easier to watch, here’s a cheat sheet of times & topics. The things I do for you!

00:00 – 10:00 – General History, with Richard Purdey
10:00 – 27:48 – Evolution of the Purdey Shotgun
27:49 – 32:40 – Inside the Purdey Factor – Barrel Making
32:41 – 39:20 – The Action
39:21 – 50:00 – The Locks
50:00 – 55:30 – The Triggers
55:30 – 1:11:12 – Stocking, unique jobs of Purdey Stockers
1:11:12 – 1:17:28 – Engraving
1:17:28 – 1:30:15 – Regulating & Finishing

Where did pointing dogs come from, anyway?

Elhew Pointers
Elhew Pointers

Have you ever wondered about the history of pointing dogs? For the story, here’s a fascinating piece I recommend from Craig Koshyk’s excellent Pointing Dog Blog:

The History of the Pointing Dog, Part 1: Origins

“On June 16th, 2009 American President Barack Obama appeared in a televised interview. About half way into the program, a fly began buzzing about his head as he was answering a question. Despite repeated attempts to scare it away, the very persistent fly eventually landed on the President’s hand. Ed Pilkington, writing in the next day’s edition of the English newspaper the Guardian, described Mr. Obama’s reaction:

His body went rigid and he cast his eyes down toward the fly that had settled on his left hand. At this point he looked swathed in the stillness that comes from absolute concentration…

Then, with lighting speed, the President swatted the fly and exclaimed, “I got the sucker!” Naturally, the rather humorous event was reported around the world. I saw it on the evening news and watched it again on You Tube the next day. But it wasn’t the swift presidential action that caught my attention. It was what Mr. Obama did immediately before he swatted the fly…” Read all of The History of the Pointing Dog, Part 1: Origins

Hunting a hundred years ago…

Salem is Oregon’s state capital. Located about 50 miles south of Portland, this city of 155,000 people and miles of sprawl was a tiny town 100 years ago. As you would expect, the hunting around there was a lot different back then.

Salem Hunt Club, 1910
Salem Hunt Club, 1910

Salem sits like a bull’s eye on Oregon’s Willamette Valley–ground zero for the first successful Chinese pheasants releases in the United States. This happened around 1882. By 1911, wild pheasants thrived up and down the valley. So did monstrous ducks and ruffed grouse.

Paul Nicholson grew up around Salem and he hunted the area extensively his whole life. This article is based on his experiences and recollections. My heart ached a bit when I read this part:

“Five cock pheasants was the limit, and it was no trouble to get limits for four or five men. We always kept a couple of bird dogs. A few were top performers, and we lost no crippled birds. Hunters were few, and we knew most of the farmers where we hunted. “No Hunting” and “No Trespassing” signs were almost unknown.” You can read the rest here.