THE PERIOD FROM 1950 TO ABOUT1965
Chapter 5. Hunting round the house.
My old model 1 was used daily until it had difficulty propelling a pellet out of the barrel! By that time my parents had forgotten about their strict rules, they were so used to seeing me with the little gun wherever I went. Even at night I kept it within arm's reach under the bed. In fact they were so used to my shooting activities that when I appeared with a model 15 Diana they didn't even notice!
A boy at school had swapped it for a particularly good bicycle lamp with brand new batteries and a nest full of baby shrews that I had found on the railway embankment.
The model 15 was only about as powerful as my old gun when it was new but the 15 was breech loading. No longer did I have to remove that little barrel to insert a slug it was now just break and load. I was now able to get off two fast shots without having to take my eyes off the quarry. Yes you have heard correctly, my aim had long since turned away from the target holder in the garage. Now at the age of nine I was hunting, mainly insects!
Those were the days of pinpoint accuracy and now in my late sixties, with my deteriorated eyesight I marvel at those early exploits with the crudest of iron sights.
Guns were always my champion, my equalizer that protected good against evil. In my young life there was no more despicable, evil horror than... the spider! Those large, black, malevolent monsters that would gallop noiselessly across the carpet late at night while you watched TV. They seemed to deliberately choose virgin white backgrounds to increase their terror factor. Early morning on a grey school day I would totter half asleep into the bathroom only to be confronted by an enormous black arachnid, the devil incarnate staring motionlessly at me from the white bath or even worse the toilet.
Outside my bedroom window were climbing rose bushes. They seemed to encourage large spiders who, throughout the summer, crept through my open window onto the window sill. If one was spotted whilst I was in bed I would reach for my trusty model 15.
I always reamed out cat slugs on the corner of the rear sight so that they fitted snugly into the breech without any air escaping. If shooting at very short range I would aim fractionally above the creature to allow for the sight being above the barrel. I had to make sure the shot was fatal as a frightened or wounded spider would drop to the floor and crawl into the shadows. Perhaps to my bed! My hand would sweat as I, oh so gently, squeezed the trigger. A satisfying splat would leave a red splash on the wall surrounded by twitching hairy legs.
Earwigs were a moving quarry. From the same rose bushes earwigs would scuttle along the picture rail above my wall paper. It was not so crucial to kill these so I had endless fun pinging away at these small running dots with red plastic .177 pellets that I afterwards gathered up and used time and time again.
When it had rained heavily, large brown and black slugs emerged and slid slowly across the garden path. My friends and I would pretend that we were bazookering imaginary tanks which when hit would somersault and burst open oozing gore.
- Tony Sheppard