Is Change Really as Good as a Rest?

Team Wild TV Team Wild TV

Date: in Lifestyle


I really enjoy my game shooting. I’m not so much a fan of big bag days, but rather the 150-200 bird days with friends and family where you can just relax and enjoy yourself. Anything more than that and I get a bit tired nowadays! 🙂

However, recently I’ve not been enjoying my driven days as much. It’s not the birds, and certainly not the company, but rather the quality of my own shooting. I’ve been wounding far more birds than usual, and it’s becoming incredibly frustrating.

When it comes to my rifle shooting, whether competition or hunting, I’m always keen to try new things. I’m forever trying out different rifles, scopes, ammunition and equipment, always trying to get that extra edge – usually with some measure of success.

However, I haven’t applied the same rationale when it comes to my game shooting. I’ve used the same shotgun for my driven shooting for nearly 9 years without even giving it a second thought! I just seem to wander into the Gunroom, grab my gun & cartridges and head out the door.

My faithful Browning Citori Lightning Grade 6 has been a constant companion for hundreds of shoots – from walked up grouse over pointers to simulated game days. It’s a strangely built gun, with 28″ multi-choke barrels and shiny gloss finish – and at a portly 3.6kg it’s also incredibly heavy.

But it’s always performed well for me, so much so that I’ve never really given too much thought to changing it. That’s until very recently, yesterday in fact, while I was shooting with friends at Winwood Shoot near Stourport in Worcestershire.

Because of my Bells Palsy I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to shoot the whole day, so Clare took her 20-bore Beretta 687 EL Gold Pigeon 2, just in case she had to step in. As it happens it was lucky she did!

Half way through the second drive, the top barrel of my Citori stopped working and I had to borrow Clare’s Beretta, and to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure to start with. At a mere 2.6kg it felt very light and the stock was also rattling around in my enormous hands.

But once the drive started, I felt like I’d experienced an epiphany! Rather than dragging my unwieldy cannon through the air, the 20-bore felt light, manoeuvrable and a joy to handle. I found birds folding with the first barrel rather than chasing them to finish them off with a second.

Despite having to concentrate more carefully on my mount (the Beretta was a little short for me so I kept finding myself looking down the right hand side!) I became more confident, and therefore more fluid, that I’ve shot for years. I was simply astounded!

So now I have an even bigger problem. I’ve discovered that not only does a 20-bore have the same potency as a 12 bore for driven game (yes, I know we already knew that 😉 ) but due to its weight and dimensions it’s also a thoroughly enjoyable calibre to shoot.

I’ve already started looking at my options, and the choice is simply staggering. My budget is around £5000. While it sounds a lot, this is a long term investment in what is a very important part of my life.

Whilst there’s a huge number of shotguns available at this price, I’ve already drawn up a shortlist. First is the stunningly beautiful AYA No.2. A quality built Spanish side-by-side, I’ve been casting glances at the No.2 for a few years now.

Next is the Beretta 687 EELL Diamond Pigeon. This is similar in weight and handling to Clare’s Gold Pigeon and would offer the same quality build and finish as the AYA.

The final gun on my list is Brownings new Heritage Hunter. I first saw this at IWA back in March, and was immediately impressed with it’s handling. I like my Browning guns and I’m sure the Heritage Hunter would provide years of faithful service.

I’ll be testing each of these shotguns over the next few months to see what will be joining me out in the field next season. In the mean time, I’d appreciate any comments or experiences you may have had with these fine shotguns.

It’s just a shame it’s taken me so long to discover the joys of shooting a 20-bore!


  1. hi Ian, good article and a subject that is thought of by many people. A gun afterall is not that heavy, but having to carry it and stand holding it all day doea become very awkward. I am sure some of your problem is arm fatigue from holdomg the gun for long periods inbetween shooting. This is one of the very reasons why I designed and have manufactured the all new shooting product Stock Aid, as highly recommended by Alastair Balmain of Shooting Times. This product ill eleviate arm fatigue, tiredness etc. Let me have your contact details and will send one for you to use and would value your feedback. See my website and click on stock aid or call me for more info. Good shooting…Phil

  2. I have the opposite problem! I have shot driven game all my life, but 3 years ago changed from a 12b sbs to a 12b o/u which improved my shooting no end. Then I changed to a 20b Browning B2G, firstly with 26.5″ barrels and then to a 30″ gun, which was a revelation: light, handy and pointable, and I have had a good season with it until the wheels came off yesterday. Suffering from the aftermath of a heavy cold, I just couldn’t get my act together at all, couldn’t even get on the line of the bird sometimes. Now, should I revert to the 12b o/u, which I know fits me well or should I soldier on with the 20b? The problem is clearly based between the ears but what to do to get back on song?


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