When I moved to France and wanted to learn the language I was told to join a club. But what kind of club? I wasn’t interested in boule and didn’t want to discuss the price of grain with young farmers. Then one day while trawling the internet I discovered that the French have an enduring love affair with firearms of all types.
Back home in the UK if I declared in polite society my own interest in guns I would get a few askance looks. I might even be rushed off for psychiatric evaluation. Not so in France where just under a quarter of all households have guns, often between three and four per house, with around 20 million registered firearms in circulation – that’s with a population of 66 million.
In France, having a gun is not considered odd.
So I joined my local gun club. I started off with a simple, inexpensive black powder revolver and now I have a shotgun, a hunting rifle, a semi-automatic assault rifle and a Colt .45ACP handgun. To me, this seems just as unlikely as walking on the moon.
My French quickly improved. I got the numbers system off pat within a week because everybody at the club talks about calibres, distances and powder weights. I made friends and got to fire their weapons, too.
I also discovered that shooting is not as easy as it looks. But then, if it were, there would be no fun. As soon as I was able to hit the target, I moved the target further away. I learnt to fire off the shoulder, without the benefit of a bench-rest. I continue to make it harder on myself, and I enjoy it all the more.
And I was lucky in my choice of club. Some can be a bit sterile where you just shoot at pieces of paper at varying distances. Others, like my own, are more anarchic, although just as hot on safety. If I want to drag along a giant refrigerator and blast it to pieces with a shotgun, no one will bat an eyelid.
In all, it took me less than a year to build my gun collection. And, knowing what I now know, it seems only right to pass my knowledge along.
This is a short book because these are the basics to get anyone new to the sport started. Everything else you will find out for yourself.
E-books can be updated more swiftly and easily than conventional books and it’s hoped to continue to bring out improved editions; so all help, comments and suggestions gratefully received.