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Marian Perera
06-07-2016, 01:11 PM
Hey everyone,

I have a question about the type of gun a character would use in 1889 (location : English country estate). It's late December and the MC goes out hunting game in the woods. At one point, he sees the villain in the distance, maybe about 70 feet away, and draws a bead on him.

I read up about hunting in Victorian times, and I thought the MC could shoot woodpigeons. However, the site I found specified that shotguns were used to bring down these birds. I don't think that would work for aiming at a person (would it?). The MC doesn't actually shoot the villain at this point, but I want it to be clear that he could, if he wanted to, kill the villain. A rifle would work for that, but I'm not sure if the MC would have a rifle, given that he went into the woods specifically to hunt game rather than to shoot a person standing some distance away.

That said, I can change the type of game, if I need to justify his having a rifle. The only things that can't change are the season, the year, and his aiming at the villain.

Any thoughts? Thanks for reading, and for any suggestions or advice!

waylander
06-07-2016, 06:02 PM
Almost all game you might find in English woodland is in season in Dec (except male roe deer). Question - is your MC a gentleman? If he is then he would be shooting birds with a shotgun and deer with a rifle. Wood pigeon - a bit downmarket - you would leave that to your gamekeeper unless you were desperate for something to shoot at. Is there any water nearby? Duck would be a good choice for a gentleman to shoot at with a shotgun, otherwise he is hunting deer if you need him to have a rifle.
Being shot with birdshoot at 70 feet might not kill but I certainly would not want someone pointing a shotgun at me at that range.

Marian Perera
06-07-2016, 06:48 PM
Almost all game you might find in English woodland is in season in Dec (except male roe deer). Question - is your MC a gentleman? If he is then he would be shooting birds with a shotgun and deer with a rifle.

The MC is out hunting with a friend who's a titled gentleman, but the real purpose of the hunt is for the friend to get the MC alone to talk to him about a problem. There's no one else with them. That's one reason I picked woodpigeons - something easy for them to carry home, assuming they actually did shoot some to justify being outdoors - but if these don't sound plausible, would foxes work?


Being shot with birdshoot at 70 feet might not kill but I certainly would not want someone pointing a shotgun at me at that range.

That's the problem. I want the MC to be placed in a position where one squeeze of a trigger would result in the villain being gone for good. Birdshot wouldn't really cut it.

So I guess it has to be foxes or deer.

waylander
06-07-2016, 07:02 PM
No gentleman would shoot a fox, he would invite the hunt to come and take care of it. He could shoot a deer and then have his gamekeeper collect it with a ponycart rather than carry it himself.

Marian Perera
06-07-2016, 07:15 PM
No gentleman would shoot a fox, he would invite the hunt to come and take care of it. He could shoot a deer and then have his gamekeeper collect it with a ponycart rather than carry it himself.

Sounds good. I just found an online excerpt from a book called Deer-stalking which mentions how these two men shoot a deer, and then one remains with the deer while the other goes back for a pony fitted with a "deer-saddle". So the ponycart can be the plan in the highly unlikely event that my characters bag a deer.

Thanks very much for your suggestions. :)

andadu27101
06-08-2016, 12:21 AM
Well, he could go hunting birds (small shot) but also carry slugs in his pocket if big game comes along. A slug could easily kill a man up to 300 feet. Next option would be a “combo” two barrels (shotgun/rifle combination), wildly used in those days.

WeaselFire
06-11-2016, 06:37 PM
I just found an online excerpt from a book called Deer-stalking...

If this is the Handbook of Deer Stalking from 1880, then you have all the info you need for your story.

If you want to make your gentleman friend have some status, have him lend the guy a John Rigby, Holland and Holland, or maybe a Greener 8 bore rifle for the hunt. All are deadly to deer and people.

Jeff

Marian Perera
06-12-2016, 09:14 AM
If you want to make your gentleman friend have some status, have him lend the guy a John Rigby, Holland and Holland, or maybe a Greener 8 bore rifle for the hunt. All are deadly to deer and people.

Oh, this part is great! I like brand names in historical fiction, and the villain is smoking a Wild Woodbine at the moment. The MC will definitely carry one of those rifles. Thank you.

One further question, though. I just finished the scene, and at the end, the MC reluctantly decides not to shoot the villain. To avoid temptation, he takes the bullets out of his rifle.

What's the technical way of saying he does this? I thought of just writing "he unloaded the rifle", but a few specific terms would work better.

WeaselFire
06-13-2016, 02:56 AM
What's the technical way of saying he does this? I thought of just writing "he unloaded the rifle", but a few specific terms would work better.

Depends on the rifle and how its action works. For a double rifle such as a John Rigby or Greener, the barrels break open similar to a pivot barrel shotgun. There's usually a release on top of the tang that is pushed sideways, the barrels drop away from the stock and the cartridges or spent casings are pulled from them by hand. A description on this might read:

"Magnificent Charcater thumbed the release and the barrels dropped forward. He pulled first one, then the other, cartridge from the twin rifle barrels, pocketing the lethal metallic assemblies for future use, if warranted. For now, he would not be tempted to fire and, if the temptation rose, he would have the time required to reload the barrels in which to reconsider."

By the way, watch the last fifteen minutes of the James Bond movie Skyfall. Bond uses a double rifle in fighting the villains and ejects two spent cartridges and reloads the rifle.

Hope it helps.

Jeff

Marian Perera
06-13-2016, 06:22 PM
"Magnificent Charcater thumbed the release and the barrels dropped forward. He pulled first one, then the other, cartridge from the twin rifle barrels

Perfect! That's just what I needed, except he threw the cartridges away. It seemed more dramatic.


By the way, watch the last fifteen minutes of the James Bond movie Skyfall. Bond uses a double rifle in fighting the villains and ejects two spent cartridges and reloads the rifle.

Thanks, I will. :)