Not long ago I found myself sitting in the reception of a police station in Scotland, nervously awaiting a criminal intelligence analyst job interview. A poster on the wall depicting a man with empty hands raised as if shooting, demanding people either apply for an airgun license or surrender their weapons caught my eye. It turns out that as of the very last day of last year, air weapon law has changed north of the border, and even simple possession of an air rifle (which in England can be legally used by an unsupervised fourteen year old on private land) could potentially put you behind bars.
Seeing this poster reminded me that an air rifle of my own, bought fairly impulsively by sixteen year-old me (and scarcely touched since), lay stowed away in a corner of my bedroom in my dad’s house. Now, back in the south, I thought I’d dust the old thing off and see if it works at all with a little target shooting:
Turns out it does. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting such a powerful discharge for something I remember thinking of as a toy when I first bought it nearly a decade ago; I had walked into a local shop and asked for something cheap and cheerful for precisely what I did today: shooting targets in my garden (a practice which came to be known as “vegan-friendly hunting”), as an alternative to darts, which my friends and I had been obsessively playing at the time. And while the craze for target-based games passed fairly quickly, we had a lot of fun with it back in the day.
I have never aimed a weapon of any description at a living thing, so I have absolutely no idea the potential for damage or injury that a gun like mine presents, but having seen it tear through both sides of a can and into the plank behind it, I wouldn’t much fancy being on the receiving end of a shot. I have really enjoyed a little target practice (as I did together with my dad this afternoon), but also understand the Scottish authorities’ desire to limit the availability of such items to youngsters who may not appreciate the damage they could cause. Either way, today was both an eye-opener and a spot of light fun (with a healthy dose of nostalgia), but now the gun lies back under the wardrobe, likely to be forgotten once again (particularly if work calls me to Scotland…).
Truthfully, more than likely due to having grown up in the UK, firearms very rarely come to my attention, save the odd (usually negative) news article, so I would love to hear your opinions on the topic in the comments below (though please exercise restraint and respect for the opinions of others)!