Highlights of 2016 and Anticipation of the Year Ahead – Paul Hodson

2016 has been a very busy year, both personally and on the shooting front. Starting back in February at the British Shooting Show, I had the first look and try of the Air Arms Galahad. I shot the prototype and to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t very far off being the finished article. It shot beautifully. Claire West from Air Arms told me that I would get a production rifle in late summer for me to use on Air Arms TV. It was at the Midland Game Fair that I picked up the full production rifle with Q-Tec moderator in .177 and it was as good, if not better, than I ever expected. I teamed the Galahad with a Nikko Stirling long range Target Master 4-16 x 50, which is an outstanding hunting combination.

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On a personal note, 2016 has been an adventure. I started a new job in July as manager of Oakedge Shooting Ground, in the heart of Staffordshire. To say it’s a steep learning curve would be an understatement, but I have quickly made some very good friends and I am enjoying setting challenging courses. Oakedge is my pride and joy – it’s a beautiful family friendly shooting ground. We like to encourage newcomers to the world of shooting, especially the younger generation, but we also cater for the experienced shooter who wants to improve their technique and practice a specific type of target. My typical day at work starts by driving past the spring-fed trout lakes, pausing to feed the ducks, and watching our resident Kingfisher hop from jetty to jetty. Then I drive to the lodge, often catching sight of fallow deer grazing on the parkland. What better way to spend your day!

As this year draws to a close, I’m very excited about what 2017 holds for me. Hopefully there will be more videos for Air Arms. I can’t wait to really put the Galahad through its paces. Predator control is a never-ending task, and throughout the year, I’ll be at a variety of farms and shoots keeping on top of the fox population. But more importantly than all the shooting, I’ve had two new flasks this year, and am looking forward to drinking plenty of piping hot tea!

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My top tips for 2017:

  • Look after your permissions (with Christmas on the horizon, remember cards and the odd bottle to say thank you).
  • If you’re stuck inside during winter with dark nights and bad weather, why not map your shooting permissions on Google Earth. I GPS all my shots so I can pin them on the map to see the patterns that form.
  • Dark winter nights are also the perfect time to get your equipment in tip top condition, and if there’s anything missing from your shooting paraphernalia, then hey, get it on your Christmas list quick!
  • Communicate with your farmers. Find out which crops will be in the fields you normally shoot and ask the gamekeeper when his birds will be arriving so you can make a note on your calendar.
  • While you’ve got that calendar out, pop in all those important dates like the British Shooting Show and all Countryman Fairs events. You don’t want to find yourself double booked.

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Posted in: Hunting

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