Vic Harker’s choice of cartridges for roost shooting

For the country sportsman the calendar is more than just a matter of four seasons; it has many other subsections, titled grouse, partridge, duck and pheasant.

For many of you – and myself –the end of January heralds that brief period of roost shooting when we forgather in the gloom of February Saturday afternoons to thin out the grey hoards as they fly home to the coverts. It’s a ritual I enjoy but, as with most rituals, it arouses mixed emotions.

In some ways it’s anti-climatic, what with the end of the game season, but on the other hand the evenings are drawing out and the first glimmerings of spring are not too far away. This also means the opportunity to try to come to terms with that most sporting of quarry, the woodpigeon.

Much used to be made of the requirement of special guns and heavy loads for pigeon, but I have a feeling that the old timers used to confuse the needs of competitive live pigeon shooting with modern pest control.

In the case of roost shooting, where to fill the bag it’s sensible to allow the birds to be in the process of making their final approach to home before opening fire, a fairly light, fast-handling gun is required, together with a moderate shot load.

Lyalvale Express Pigeon Special

This cartridge has long been a favourite of mine, used with my old Watson boxlock. With a 30g shot load and a choice of plastic or fibre wad, this combination really delivers whenever I use it.

Wad: Plastic/Fibre

Load: 30grm

Shot Sizes: 6

Case Length: 65mm 2½”

Price: Plastic £216, Fibre £218.50

Gamebore Clear Pigeon

Another fine cartridge from this redoubtable manufacturer. There are 30 and 32g options, both in a 70mm case suitable for use in most modern over-and-unders and semi-autos. Again with a choice of plastic or fibre wad, the heavier load can be useful on passing shots which in some conditions are inevitable.

Wad: Plastic/Fibre

Load: 30grm, 32grm

Shot Sizes: 6

Case Length: 70mm 2 ¾”

Price: 30g: Plastic £199, Fibre £202. 32g: Plastic £203.75, Fibre £209.75

Eley Pigeon

Again an option of 30 or 32g loads from this great British cartridge maker. Both are available in plastic or fibre wad in a 67mm case suitable for guns with 2½” chambers or longer.

Wad: Plastic/Fibre

Load: 30g, 32g

Shot Sizes: 6.5

Case Length: 67mm 2 ½

Price: 30g: Plastic £211.25, Fibre £215.50. 32g: Plastic £214, Fibre £218