Pistol shooting in the garden with Andy McLachlan

Rifle shooter Andy McLachlan doesn’t want to upset the neighbours as he heads into his garden, so starts packing a pistol once again.

Andy couldn’t choose between these two beautifully engineered pistols that will last a lifetime – so he came home with both

I am sure that many of you are feeling just as frustrated as I am that we cannot get out and about to do the things that really matter in our lives. I don’t mean work and boring stuff like that, but doing what we like the most – namely shooting.

This period of being locked away has certainly concentrated my mind upon what really matters in life. Spending weeks on your own is a sure-fire way of identifying those things that you knew were important, just that you didn’t quite realise how crucial they are for retaining any semblance of sanity.

For those of us living with families, I can perfectly understand just how frustrating this can be on all involved as we try and often fail in giving each other the space we might need to function properly. Easy it is not! 

At least you have somebody to talk to though, and without the use of modern technology I know for a fact that I and one or two of my friends would certainly have gone fully round the twist by now.

There are only so many personal projects at home that you can do before you run out and find yourself watching ridiculous programmes on the television or dig out your favourite box-set once again.

So what is the confirmed airgunner to do when faced with such events? Obviously, for those of us lucky enough to possess a garden, the use of a preferably low-powered airgun, a suitable and safe backstop and understanding neighbours all help to allow some of us to set up an outdoor plinking range. When I say ‘airgun’, in my mind’s eye I conjure up the image of a rifle, not a pistol.

However, I would argue that the use of a pistol is possibly the better decision for those of us that own them. Not that there is anything at all wrong with using full-powered air rifles in our gardens, providing of course that none of our shots stray away from our borders and are kept far away from any non-intended flightpaths. 

Andy also owned this Feinwerkbau match pistol which was fitted with a striking grip made by Rink

There is also the issue of noise that may or may not disturb the neighbours as they sit outside and wonder what is happening close by if we use airguns with loud muzzle signatures or bounce some tin cans around.

Sometimes all it takes is to advise neighbours what you intend to do and that everything is safe before commencement of any shooting activity, but we all know that there are many unenlightened members of the public out there who think any gun is capable of dropping an elephant at several hundred yards.

Your proposed personal shooting range might then be governed by what your neighbours are prepared to put up with. Sad, but true unfortunately.

When faced with the imminent loss of liberty as we all have been recently, I quickly realised that I had to have something that would help to keep my mind settled and doing something that I find particularly relaxing, namely shooting.

Like a lot of readers, I own quite a few rifles, all of which are capable of outstanding accuracy if I do my bit. I do not necessarily feel comfortable using them when there are lots of neighbours outside in their gardens however.

If you live in a property surrounded by a large area of land this won’t be a problem. If that is not the case though, you must carefully consider what any observer will think as you uncover your pride and joy for a plinking session.

For example, my recent purchase of an FX Dreamline in its very tactical stock might have a curtain-twitcher thinking that I was something that I am not, whereby an old BSA Meteor would probably be recognised for what it is.

In order to get around this issue I reckoned that I once again needed to buy myself some air pistols. The advantage of less power and the fact that it is at least a hundred times harder trying to shoot a pistol accurately gave me a sense of challenge as I contemplated the possibilities.

Around five years ago, I purchased a Walther LP400 PCP, a full-blown target pistol, and spent a year trying to learn how to shoot a pistol accurately. I was in some ways fortunate in that many members of my Rivington club are genuinely expert and serious pistol shots, with them providing me with lots of expert coaching and guidance as I tried to progress to a level I would be happy at. I suppose I managed to achieve a fair level of performance, but I was well behind those fellow pistol shooters who outshot me week in week out.

Andy’s friend Ian Jones has a lovely Walther LP400 match pistol which is capable of delivering some blistering accuracy

I hadn’t realised just how hard 10 Metre pistol shooting is. It’s one thing blasting away at a tin can with a semi-automatic CO2 pistol and having fun, but trying to regularly place that pellet into the bull for a maximum score on a regular basis with a match pistol was certainly the hardest shooting that I have yet to experience.

I eventually gave up trying to emulate the good shooters and haven’t really shot any pistols since then, so most of my collection had been sold on. Prior to investing a lot of money in the brand-new Walther match pistol, I had of course purchased a few other pistols along the way. One of the guns that made a big impression on me was the famous Weihrauch HW45.

This hand-filling spring-powered offering was originally modelled on the famous Colt 1911 firearm, with the recoil giving the pistol a firearm-like kick as it recoils towards you. I owned the .177 version and appreciated the fact that the gun is equipped with two power levels, one being around five foot pounds of muzzle energy and the other lower level at about three.

I did enjoy shooting this gun, and with the thought of being locked away for who knows how long, I considered the pistol as being top of my list for the home range. Rather than just buy myself the .177 version though, I reckoned the .22 model would be the one to have if it came to spinning cans or other reactive targets. Not being able to decide, I therefore bit the bullet and purchased a new gun in each calibre.

Anybody who has been airgunning for a long time will be very well acquainted with the Weihrauch brand, which is noted for its high-quality engineering and the ability of the guns to last for an awfully long time with minimal maintenance.

Suffice to say that both of my new pistols did not disappoint me with the extremely high standard of build. They really do look and feel like they will last for several hundred years with the odd wipe down and a very occasional mainspring and seal change.

Shooting the guns is every bit as enjoyable as I remembered. From a rested position, I can group a high number of shots into the bull at up to twelve yards using the superb fibre-optic sights. Following twenty or so shots to clear the manufacturing oil within the gun’s cylinder, the .177 soon got into its stride, recording velocities just below the six foot pound UK limit for pistols.

Andy’s had some great results with his new handguns, finding both the .177 and .22 to be capable of some great accuracy

The gun’s .22 sister, however, much prefers to produce the loud crack and barrel smoke of a properly dieseling springer and can only be used when I know for certain the neighbours aren’t out in their garden! Hopefully, she will settle down soon and be producing the standards of accuracy that her smaller calibre sister is at present.

I like the guns that much that I even commissioned a fellow shooter, Andrew Davies, to manufacture a full walnut wraparound grip for the .22 gun and bought another walnut grip for the .177 from Germany. This helps to gain a better grip and aids accuracy for somebody like me, who is a relative pistol novice.

More importantly than any of this though, the two guns are allowing me to remain engaged with my favourite hobby, which actually means, in my opinion, they are priceless! 

More from Andy McLachlan

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