When my ECS Gordie was a youngster, we each enjoyed a two-for-two day hunting woodcock. I killed both birds he flushed with two shots, and he made two finds and retrieves.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible cleanly to kill wild upland birds on the wing in the gnarly places where they live. I cringe whenever dispatching a wounded woodcock after it freezes me with an icy stare from a baleful eye.
Bird hunters have long been told that burning powder on the clays field is the best method for minimizing crippling shots. For the hunter just as for the inquisitive violinist in the title, their mutual solution has always been “practice, practice, practice.” Having great equipment well suited to the job at hand is certainly part of any performance equation. But for some of us geezers, performance improvement is primarily an internal process.
And so I had mixed feelings when I learned the other day that an American arms manufacturer is offering a $5,500 “integrated shooting system.” In an article introducing this arm in October, 2013, the company stated “The advanced internal ballistics computer immediately generates a firing solution….” That sounds less like the deer hunting I know and more like Burt Lancaster loading a forward-tube torpedo for a bow shot on the Akikaze in the Bungo Straits. My problem with this, after chewing on it for a few days, is that it replaces the internalized “practice, practice, practice” with its external substitute “purchase, purchase, purchase.”
The possibility that this “shooting system” may reduce crippling shots is attractive, even if the hunter’s shooting skill is improved simply through his wallet. Further, it seems to me that some if not many fair chase issues concern events happening before the shot rather than during the shot. To the extent that’s true, I’m not sure that this system, while still something I’d probably not choose to use for aesthetic reasons, runs afoul of fair chase hunting.