Sunday, 27 November 2011

Unboxing: Etymotic's GunSport Pro Hearing Protection Review

Do you know anyone who's been shooting for a while who doesn't have some hearing loss??

In the comments section of the last post Exploriment expresses surprise that here in Blighty you can legally fit a sound moderator to your rifle. Our legislation recognises them as a piece of PPE (personal protective equipment) rather than the Assassin's Accessory they seem to be viewed as in North America.
Here they are licensed to individuals on health and safety grounds: culling for the Forestry Commission, and Keepers working on estates are issued with moderators as part of workplace safety -  like hard hats and steel toe-capped boots on building sites. So if an individual police force (firearms are licensed locally not nationally) were to turn down an application from a licensed holder of a firearm they would become liable for impeding the users attempts to protect themselves from the hazard.

I've often been amazed at the way 'health and safety' is derided on the cities construction sites - offer someone using loud power tools a pair of ear defenders and they'll tell you "my ears are knackered already" Which puzzels me. If you knew you were part way deaf surely you'd try to look after what you've got left?

The number of guides I've met who make sure they keep you to their right [as their left ear is blown] is pretty high, these are the same people who at the range will hand you the skankiest cans you've ever seen.
There really is no excuse; I have a really great pair, they knock off 30db and even fold up, best of all they were only £6.43p (less than ten bucks) from Toolstation [here's the link - when you actually get them they are yellow].

On site and at the range they are sweet, but they're a bit bulky for walking about in, and of course you can't hear much while you're wearing them. I've always fancied a pair of those in-ear defenders. Especially [as a life long fan of the Six Million Dollar Man] the ones that can amplify sounds while you're walking around in the woods until they automatically shut off when you take your shot.

So I was proper delighted when the lovely people at Etymotic got in touch to ask if I'd like to do a little field testing for them. Err, that would be HELL YES!

Etymotic have won a couple of awards for their ear protection, and in the enhanced hearing setting you can hear why, they really are great.

Out of the box
They come with several sets of earplugs which is just as well - the standard plugs fit my left ear really well but aren't that comfortable in my right ear. I've got different shaped inner ears! Who knew? Every day's a school day!

I'd have preferred it if the little pouch that hold them and the cleaning kit had an attachment for a lanyard and belt loop but I have one of those neat little surgical gloves pouch from Maxpedition that'll be perfect for the job.

I'm way too busy with work to go beating or shooting this weekend so a full field test will have to wait, but I do need to cut into the foundations of a wall with a big grinder so the Gun Sport Pro's efficacy at defending against continuous noises can be put to the test during the week.

More soon

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Paul Merton Meets The Suburban Bushwacker

Do you remember when I went to Scotland during the summer? Finally the embargo is lifted and I can tell you a bit more about the trip. Well, I will tell you a bit more about the trip, but first if you can get UK TV you can see me and Andy on Channel 5 this wednesday at 10pm UK time.

More - oh so much more- soon
Your pal (and TV personality)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Urban Fox Problem?

As with all things where town-meets-country, misconception and folklore romp home while the science stuff is still putting its boots on. Foxes must be about the best example of this. Out of Town: known pests that predate on the eggs of ground nesting birds, and the newborn young of deer, that are to be shot on sight. Whereas within the confines of the city: foxes are both violent interloper and anthropomorphised pseudo-pet. On the same street some people are investing in fox-proofed dustbins while others are buying cat-food to encourage them.

Twenty years ago the sight of a suburban fox was a remarkable one, now they are a common sight even in the daytime, as far into the city as London Bridge! As a life of discarded KFC and Kebabs is easier than actually hunting in the countryside where the locals shoot on sight, we'll see even more of them in the coming years.

Not too far from me in Hackney's Victoria Park a family home was invaded and their sleeping children attacked last year. I've had one come into the house, and my friends R&E have been subjected to a campaign of shoe chewing. The raided dustbins, noise and disease-carrying poo all over the garden don't endear them either.

A couple of weekends ago I went out with Tim of Urban Fox Control to learn a little more about the ways and means of dealing with the city's ever growing fox population.

Tim explained that while it would be legal to shoot foxes from an upstairs window it would be far from practical. He favours baiting a large cage with [you've guessed it] KFC, once the fox has imprisoned itself the householder can pop a cover over the cage to minimise the foxes discomfort. Tim or one of his team will come out that day to administer a .17 sleeping pill.

As we pulled back the cover the fox was sitting defiantly in the cage and didn't seem distressed to be so close to us, as Tim had prepared the rifle the time between pulling back the cover and the fox's demise was only about 30 seconds.

Knowing that fox shooters in the countryside usually use a bullet whose calibre begins with a .2 [eg .222/.22-250/.243] I asked Tim why he was using such a small bullet. Tim explained that the smaller bullet travels exceptionally fast but is also exceptionally fragile - leading to it disintegrating on impact with the foxes skull, this was borne out when he showed me that there was no damage to the wooden decking where the cage had been standing, this disintegration also means there is no danger of a ricochet leaving the garden or doing collateral damage to one of the family's gnomes.

I'm hoping to start keeping chickens next year but the garden is bisected by fox trails so I'm guessing this wont be my last experience of suburban fox control

More soon
Your pal

You can contact Urban Fox Control here

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Roadkill: It's A Free Meal (For Two)

Saw this one in the paper the other morning and thought of you dear reader. Jeweller and mum-to-be Alison Brierley 39 [ish] of Harrogate in Yorkshire got herself in the paper with tales of cravings for roadkill.

"now I'm pregnant I get strong cravings for roadkill,' explaines Brierley. 'It's more gamey than other meat and I love the taste. I also don't have to feel guilty about eating it because I know it's had a completely free range and natural life.'

She tells how she's chowed down on: hare, deer, pigeon, rabbit and owls, obviously at this time of year pheasants being abundant. 'I would like to try fox and badger but they're never in good enough condition to eat; although I have used them for my artwork.’ said Brierley.

She's hosted roadkill dinner parties for friends.
"They trust me and they know I'm a good cook so I think they love it. I get the best meat from friends who ring me up to tell me about a kill they've spotted on their way to work"

‘One of the big reasons for being public about this is that I want to raise awareness about where food actually comes from’
, said Alison. ‘Some people are so blasé about picking their food off a supermarket shelf without giving a thought to how it lived or how it was killed.’

Giving food for thought to food faddists, yummy mummies, and other whingers. Well played Alison. 

More soon

Buying Outdoor Equipment

There's an amusing debate that regularly gets an airing on the outdoor forums between the kind of guy who maintains: that a dullard GF is every bit as good as a smart one, all whisky tastes the same, and cheap outdoor gear mass produced by democracy protesters in slave camps is just as good as gear made by people who A have free time and B spend it outdoors, and those of us who know better. For some people any old crap will do, good luck to them.

From you-get-what-you-pay-for to good-enough, choices in outdoor gear are seriously contentious with brand loyalty sometimes so strong it can cloud judgement and latest-and-greatest so skilfully marketed that, to read the flowery prose, you'd wonder just how humanity survived so long without the yah-dee-yah-dee-ya-3000 and its attendant benefits.

As regular readers, the observant ones at least, will have noticed I'd rather live on beans and rice, bake my own bread, eat only road kill, and limit dates to 'dead certs' if it meant I'd have the cash to 'buy the best and only cry once'.

1. & 2. Boots and Bag - if you're not in one you're in the other. The only thing worse than a day of cold wet feet, is following it up with a night of shivering in a crappy sleeping bag. I've tried both on your behalf, trust me on this one, don't bother. To me unlined boots make a lot more sence than the insulated ones; as they are easier to dry out, and when you've worn through the lining lined boots are very hard to repair.

Money no object: I wear Lundhags Rangers which Nordic Outdoor do some great deals on [often not on the website ring for availability]. But if I really had the money I'd have a pair made for me either by Altberg of Yorkshire or Russell Moccasin of Wisconsin.

Bargain alternative:
The Northern Monkey wears Scarpa bought very heavily discounted from a market stall and loves them, I've never heard a good word said about US military issue boots [and lots of words unfit for family viewing] but the lined British army boots have their fans and are a tenth of the list price of a pair of Lundhags.

Money no object: Kifaru Regulator for me. Demonstrated here by Goofy Girl

Bargain alternative: The Northern Monkey has the British army issue bag - warm but big and heavy. Our friend serving in Afganistan sings the praises of the US army issue system of bags.

3. Jacket
Whatever it costs to be warm and dry (or second best damp but warm) is a bargain.

Money no object: I wear a Ventile Arctic smock by West Winds and, when its a bit colder, a Kifaru Parka. It took a lot of patience to get them at a price I could afford. If I'd had the coin I was tempted by having one of Wiggy's Parkas made up for me with a Ventile shell. [Wiggy will make up in any combination you ask for for a small premium].

Bargain alternative: I've also got a US airforce issue Goretex Hardshell which is excellent.

4. Pack(s)

Personally I'd rather have a heavier pack that fits and lasts, than an ultralight that doesn't and won't, how much money you have to spend to find this out for yourself is up to you.

Money no object: Kifaru (my choice). Mystery Ranch, Kuiu, or McHale were also on my list

Bargain alternative: I wouldn't be the person to ask.

My kids have an awesome pop-up tent that cost £70 ($100) and that was for the better model. It doesn't pack away very small but it's streets ahead of the tents we had as kids and they saw out some hoolies in the highlands and very wet weeks in Wales. You can have a really kick-ass hammock and tarp set up for less than £100 ($165). Admittedly up in the mountains the game is played for slightly higher stakes "Your tent is your make or break piece of gear between a hunt turning into an inconvenient adventure or a life threatening event. Choose accordingly."- An un-named pal of Hodgeman
10. Knife Mora of Sweden, and a diamond sharpening stone. Done.

Money no object: Chad has a stunning Charles May, if I had the money I'd have something by Stuart Mitchell. If fact I'd have a drawer full by Stuart Mitchell's to go next to the drawer full of Charles May's!

Bargain alternative: There is no better bargain than a Mora. Anywhere. End of Story.

Six through to nine? I'd welcome your thoughts.

We've come a long way from when buying from the Sears catalog was the only option for outdoorsman supplies.

Here's a round up of other bloggers thoughts on buying gear:

Dave Petzal's been writing for F&S since god was a boy, he's spent a few bucks over the years and has no regrets

"I'm not your investment counselor for goodness sake, I'm a blogger that lives just this side of Timbuktoo. ..." Hodgeman's thoughts on value for money when shopping for outdoor gear

While we're passing The Gear Junkie has complied a mind-blowing list of the most costly tat imagainable

Soon Come

PS I saw this one the other day
"The pleasure of buying really good quality kit is that the pleasure of using it will long outlast the pain of buying them.The downside of buying really good kit is that you don't need to buy it ever again." Heym SR20

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Crap Outdoors Pt4

I don't post every bit of ill-advised nonsense for the outdoorsman I see, just the exceptionally stupid examples. But when The Terrierman posted this, as soon as I stopped laughing, my first thought was "straight on the blog". As a HOOJ James Bond fan I've always loved gear that packs up small and assembles with a series of satisfying clicks. But really? A rifle-fishing rod combo? Really? As a rifle maybe, but by adding fishing functionality to it the designer has snatched crapness from the jaws cool-toy-ness.

There's more on The Firearms Blog

More soon