& Shooting Jargon
want to provide you information on every buzzword, lingo, terms and the jargon
you've ever wanted to know about hunting/shooting. If we are missing a definition
or two email them to us so we
can add them. The directions are simple - just click on the letter your suspect
the term begins with and scroll from there.
- the moving parts that allow you to load, fire and unload your shotgun.(See Breech,
Aperture Sight-See Sights
Automatic - Any firearm which continues to fire,
to the extent of the capacity of its magazine, so long as the trigger is depressed.
Sometimes erroneously applied to semiautomatic firearms.
Safety- See Safety
Backing - An expression of a dog's pointing instinct, when a dog comes
to point at sight of another dog's point, to "back" him, or "honor"
- In theory, the balance is that point between butt and muzzle where a gun balances
when rested on a fulcruim. A gun balances properly when the point of balance is
midway between the points where the hands naturally hold the gun in shooting.
However, this is not the common understanding of the term. In most cases, balance
is understood to mean the feel it gives the shooter in handling the gun, that
is, whether correctly balanced or either muzzle-light or muzzle-heavy.
- Common term for the round projectile fired by many muzzleloading arms.
Ballistics - The theory of the motion of projectiles. The shooter
loosely considers "ballistics" to mean data relative to the velocity,
energy, trajectory, and penetration of a cartridge, and sometimes to related factors
such as chamber pressure and a powder's burning characteristics.
- The steel tube down which the bullet or ball travels on its path to the target.
Either rifled (in "rifles) or smooth (in muskets).
- determines which barrel of a double barrel gun will fire first.
Barrens - Flat wasteland with low, stunted vegetation. Also, a broad, flat
Battery - The 18th century term for what we call the frizzen.
Also sometimes refers to the cock (or hammer) and frizzen together as a unit.
Bay - Second point of antlers, after the brow and before the
tray, sometimes spelt "bey".
Bead - See Sights.
Beat (n)- An area to be beaten or driven
to flush out game.
Beat (v) - To beat bushes etc., to drive out game.
- One who beats, in order to send the game over the shooters at a covert shoot
or grouse drive.
Bed - Where big game, or even hares or rabbits,
have been sleeping or resting. Another term for a rabbit or hare bed is "form."
Belted Cartridge - A cartridge, primarily of the heavy-caliber, high-velocity
type, which is rimless but has a belt around the base.
A type of color formed in English setters when two colors blend so closley as
to lose individual identity. Blue Belton is a combination of black and white;
orange belton a combination of orange and white.
Bench Rest -
A wooden shooting bench, heavily constructed and firmly placed, with suitable
"rest" for the muzzle or barrel, at which the shooter may sit to engage
in accuracy tests of the firearm.
Bevy - is a group of game birds
such as a brood or sometimes a flock.
Big-Bore - A rather loose
adjective, normally applied in North America to rifles of calibers larger than
.25, but applied in some countries only to much larger calibers. Also, large-bore.
Blacking/Blueing - the blue coloration applied to protect gun barrels.
Black Powder- The black powder ;) we use to shoot these guns. It is
the only safe propellant you may use in a blackpowder arm because it develops
lower pressures than the modern smokeless powders. Most commonly available in
#F - the coarsest granulation. Often used for cannons.
#FF - the next coarsest - often used in black powder cartridge shooting or in
large caliber rifles or muskets.
#FFF - a finer granulation used in many
rifles and, historically, for priming. It is now thought that #FFF was the powder
used for both loading and priming flintlocks in the 17th and 18th centuries, and
can still be used so today.
#FFFF - the very finest granulation, like sugar.
Now used only for priming flintlocks. This granulation should not be used
for the main powder charge because it develops very high velocities and inconsistent
accuracy. Remember - the finer the granulation, the higher the velocity. Always
follow the manufacturer's recommendations for loading your rifle!!
- A natural or man-made hiding place from which a hunter shoots ducks, turkeys,
or other game. The British term is "hide."
Block - Colloquial
word for a duck decoy.
Blowback - Automatic or Semiautomatic action
in which extraction, ejection, and reloading are accomplished by means of the
force exerted rearward by the gas of the fired cartridge.
- A thick tangle of fallen trees and brush, usually the result of severe winds.
Blown Primer - A cartridge case in which the primer was blown out
during firing. Can cause serious injury, even blindness, to the shooter; one good
for use of shooting glasses.
Bluebird Weather - Sunny, Windless
conditions which are the bane of the wildfowler's existence, as waterfowl normally
do not move in such weather or else fly very high.
- A bullet with a tapered rear end designed to obtain greater efficiency at
Bore - in simple terms the interior diameter of
a gun barrel, which will vary according to the gun's design and intended use.
The size of the bore is indicated by the term gauge. Also someone who goes on
interminabley about shooting to the exclusion of all other subjects.
Box-Lock - a type of gun action, often recognizable by its squared appearance.
Brace - Standard term for two quail, partidge, pheasant grouse, hares
Breech - The threaded steel plug at the rear end of the
barrel, which holds the explosion of firing and thereby forces the bullet forward.
Also a term for the rear end of the barrel.
Breeding - The ancestry
of a dog.
Brocket - A male red deer in his third year.
Broken - Term for a finished, completely trained bird dog.
Gun - in a hinge type gun, where the barrels are dropped open and clear of
the action, exposing the chambers to view.
Brood - All young together
born or hatched by one female. See Bevy and Covey.
Brow - The
first, or brow, point of antlers.
Browse - Branches of trees,
small saplings, or low brush, which serve as food for members of the deer family
and other ruminants.
Brush-cutter - A bullet, usually of large
caliber and considerable weight, having enough velocity and weight to continue
its original course without being deflected by light brush.
Gun - A rifle or shotgun with a barrel shorter than average, designed for
ease of movement through heavy brush.
Buck - American term for
the male of various species, including antelope, goat, deer, and rabbit; in Britain,
of non-native deer imported to Britain, and of the rabbit. Also, an accessory
used in teaching retrieving, sometimes called a retrieving dummy.
- Large lead or alloy shot used in shotgun shells, principally for big game
such as deer.
Buffalo Bullet- the name brand of only one of many
new types of projectiles that are commercially available now. It is similar in
some ways to the minie ball, and there are may brands available. All of them attempt
to provide the high velocity of a tightly patched ball with the ease of loading
of a minie ball, with sometimes varying success. They are often conical but not
always, and usually are grooved and lubricated. Their accuracy can be phenomenal
or mediocre depending on your own rifle. They depend on the lead edges of the
bullet to fill the rifling grooves and therefore it matters a lot what diameter
the bullet is, as well as the exact diameter of your rifle's bore. But never fear,
most everything is highly standardized these days, and a .58 rifle will very probably
shoot a .58 projectile very well. They vary a great deal, and it would be wise
to experiment to find the one your gun likes best.
Buffer - A
biological term used to designate small forms of animal life upon which predators
will feed, thus reducing the mortality of game. When enough 'buffers' are present,
predators eat fewer game animals.
Bugle - The sound a bull elk
(wapiti) makes during the rutting (breeding) season to advertise his presence
to the females and to issue challenges to the other bulls. The British term is
"roaring" for stags of European red deer. In some regions, "bugling"
is also used to describe the cries of hounds.
Bullet - The projectile
fired by the rifle or musket. Also called a ball.
Bump - Slang
for accidental flushing of game birds by a pointing dog.
An area which has been burned over by a forest fire; also, a stream in Scotland.
Burst - Generally, the first part of the run when hounds are close
upon the fox; any fast part of a chase.
Butt (1) - The rearmost
end of a shoulder arm, on which is affixed the buttplate, which is placed against
Butt (2) - Camouflaged embrasure in which a shooter
waits for the birds at a grouse drive. Also the backing behind a target that stops
Butt Plate - The metal, plastic, or hard-rubber plate
covering the rear of a gunstock, usually checkered or corrugated to prevent slipping.
See Recoil Pad or Stock.
Calf - Young, either sex, of the red deer until a year old.
- The diameter of the bore of a rifled arm in hundredths of an inch or in
millimeters, usually measured from land to land (raided portion between grooves),
which gives the true diameter of the bore prior to the cutting of grooves.
Caller - A hunter who does the calling when hunting ducks, geese,
or turkeys, or other game.
- Also called the percussion cap, this is a small copper cap placed on the nipple
of a percussion arm. The percussion technology was a great improvement over the
flintlock, as it was far more dependable and weather-proof. It did create a problem
though...if you were out of caps, you were out of luck!
The hide or pelage covering the head, neck, and foreshoulders, of a game animal,
often removed for mounting as a troply. The British term is headskin.
Carbine - A short-barreled rifle, normally much lighter in weight than
a standard rifle.
Carrier - The mechanism in a magazine or repeating
firearm (other than a revolver) which carries the shell or cartridge from the
magazine into a position to be pushed into the chamber by the closing of the breechbolt.
Carry the Line - When hounds are following the scent, they are "carrying
Cast - The spreading out, or reaching out, of
a pointing dog in search of game or of hounds in search of a scent. Also, in archery,
the speed with which the bow will throw a arrow. Also, in falconry, a group or
flight of hawks.
Centerfire - A cartridge of which the primer
is contained in a pocket in the center of the cartridge base.
- White excreta of a woodcock, indicating the presence of birds in a covert.
Chamber - the part of the action, at the breech end of the barrel,
into which the shot shell is placed in position for firing.
- Load of powder and/or shot in a shotshell, or the load of powder in a muzzle-loading
gun. Also, an old command, still occasionally used, to a hunting dog to lie down;
it derives from the time when gun dogs were required to lie down while the guns
Cheeper - Game bird too young to be shot.
Chilled Shot - Shot containing a greater percentage of antimony than soft
lead. All shot except buckshot and steel shot is dropped from a tower. Buckshot
of the large sizes is cast, as are single balls.
Choke - the degree
of narrowing or constriction of the bore at the muzzel end of the barrel, intended
to increase the effective range of the gun. (see Full, Modified, and Improved
Choke Constriction - The amount of constriction at
the muzzle of various gauges, which produces choke.
Clip - Detachable
magazine of a rifle or a pistol. A metal container designed to contain a given
number of cartridges for a repeating rifle.
Cock (n) - Male bird.
Cock (v)- The 18th century term for what we today call the hammer,
especially on a flintlock. Also refers to pulling the hammer back in the ready
position, preparing to fire the arm.
Comb - The upper and forward
edge of a gunstock that fits against your cheek.
Coon - A colloquialism
Cope - Muzzle for a ferret.
Two woodcock, snipe, waterfowl, shorebirds, or rabbits. Also used to describe
Course - In fox hunting to run by sight and not by
nose. Also, the territory to be covered in a field trial for bird dogs and spaniels.
Cover - Trees, undergrowth, grass, or reeds in which game may lie.
A place to be hunted.
Covert - In fox hunting a place where fox
may be found. Also, woodland. Also, the name for a place where any game may be
found. Same as cover.
Covert-shoot - Pheasant shooting in which
the shooters wait in line outside woodland from which the birds are driven by
Coverts - The wing feathers which cover the base of the
Covey - A group of game birds such as quail;
a bevy. Also, a British term for a family group of grouse or partridge, generally
four to sixteen birds.
Crimp - That portion of a cartridge case
or shotshell, which is turned inward to grip the bullet or to hold the end wad
in place, respectively.
Cripple - A game bird that has been shot
down but not killed. This term is normally employed in duck shooting. (In upland
shooting, the term "winged" is more often used.)
- The cross-hair reticule or aiming device in a telescopic sight on a rifle.
Wire or nylon is now used instead of hair.
Cry - The voice of
a hound. The cry varies during the chase. By its tone, the other hounds can tell
how strong the scent is and how sure the line is.
Dancing Ground - An area where such birds as prairie chicken, sharptail
grouse, sage grouse, and black grouse perform their courtship dances in the spring.
Doe - Female of fallow, roe or imported deer, and of the hare or rabbit.
Dogging - The shooting of grouse or partidges over pointers or setters.
Double - Any shotgun with two barrels, whether the side-by-side type
or the over-and-under. Also, when a fox, raccoon, or other game animal turn back
on his course to elude hounds.
Drag - Scent left by a fox as he
returnes to his den; or an artificial trail made by dragging a scented bag for
hounds to follow.
Dram - Unit of weight, which is the equivalent
of 27.5 grains. There are 256 drams in one pound avoirdupois (454 g).
Dram Equivalent - In the early days of black-powder shotshells, the powder
charge was measured in drams. Dram for dram, today's smokeless powder is more
powerful. The term "3 dram equivalent" means that the amount of smokeless
powder used produces the same shot velocity as would 3 drams of black powder.
Drift - Deviation of any projectile, bullet, or arrow from the plane
of its departure, caused by wind. Also, the deviation of the projectile from the
plane of departure due to rotaton. In all sporting firearms, the drift from the
plane of departure due to rotation is so slight as to be of no consequence.
Drive (n) - A self-contained operation during a day's shooting in
which the shooters remain stationary while game is driven from a particular direction.
Drive (v) - To move game toward the shooters.
- Birds which are moved toward the shooters by beaters.
- Method of hunting in which the hunters are divided into two groups. One
group moves to an area to take up stands or watches covering a wide terrain; the
other group moves toward the first, making sufficient noise to drive the game
toward the group on watches. The individuals on watch are termed "standers"
and those driving the game "drivers," or in Britian, "beaters."
Drop - Distance below the line of sight of a rifle or shotgun from
an extension of this line to the comb and to the heel of the stock. See Drop at
Comb and Drop at Heel.
Drop at Comb - Vertical distance between
the prolonged line of sight and the point of the comb. The drop and thickness
of the comb are the most important dimensions in the stock of a shotgun or rifle,
They are affected by the drop at heel. If the demensions are correct, the eye
is guided into and held steadily in the line of aim. For hunting purposes, the
best standard drop at comb on both rifles and shotguns is 1 1/4 to l 5/8 inches
(3.8-4.1 cm). Drop differs for target shooting. Ideal stock dimensions for field
or target shooting are attained only by custom fitting.
Drop at Heel
- The vertical distance between the prolonged line of sight and the heel of
the butt. The amount of drop varies, depending upon the ideas and build of the
shooter. Most shotgun hunters require a drop of about 2 1/4 inches (6.4 cm).
Eclipse Plumage - The plumage of a male bird before the time when he takes
on his full breeding plumage.Ejector
- the mechanism on shotguns by which spent shot cases are automatically ejected
from the gun when it is opened after firing. In a double-barreled shotgun, ejector
often means extractor; "selective ejection" means automatic ejection
of the fired shell only and is otherwise called automatic ejection.
Hammers - In a double-barreled shotgun, the driving pistons which eject the
Elevation - The angle which the rear sight must
be raised or lowered to compensate for the trajectory of the bullet and ensure
the desired point of impact at different ranges.
Exotic - Any
game bird or animal which has been imported.
Extractor - The hooked
device which draws the cartridge out of the chamber when the breech mechanism
Earth - The hole of some burrowing animal, such as
a woodchuck, appropriated by a fox. Also, the den.
Fault - A check or interruption in a run by hounds caused by loss of scent.
Gaggle - A flock of geese. An old British term.
Fawn - Offspring of the year of any deer other than red deer.
Field Dressing - The minimum dressing-out of a game animal in the
field, merely enough to ensure preservation of the meat and the trophy, means
usually the removing of the entrails and visceral organs.
- The pointed nose of the hammer of a firearm or the separate pin or plunger
which, actuated by the hammer or the mainspring, dents the primer, thus firing
Flag - The tail of a whitetail deer. Also, the
long hair on a setter's tail.
Flask - The metal powder flask was
known and used before the horn, actually, and was the common means for carrying
powder on the person in Europe and among the gentry on both sides of the ocean.
Cased pistols often included a powder flask. While the flask wasn't as widely
used by the foot soldier and pioneer rifleman who preferred horns or preloaded
paper cartridges, the flask did have the great advantage of being a carrying container
and powder measure in one, speeding up and simplifying loading. Today flasks are
commonly used with blackpowder arms and are very handy for loading percussion
revolvers where the speed and convenience really shine.
- A term used to describe the low trajectory of high-velocity bullets which
travel for a long distance over a flatter arc than other bullets. Scientifically
an incorrect term, for no trajectory is truly flat. See also Trajectory.
Flighting - Ambushing duck or pigeon at their roosts or feeding grounds.
Fling - A period of aimless running before a enthusiastic bird dog
settles to hunting.
Flint - the carefully chipped gun flint that
is clamped in the cock of the flintlock arm. The size varies with the size of
the lock, and there are both machine-made and hand-knapped flints available on
Flintlock - The firing mechanism most commonly seen
in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is a complex but dependable mechanism whereby
flint is scraped onto steel to create fire. Other mechanisms used this principle
as well, but differ from the true flintlock in various ways. It was developed
in the 16th century and was used until...well it's still being used, isn't it?
Flush (n) - The act of a questing dog putting game birds into
the air, or an animal on foot.
Flushing Wild - Rise of game birds
which have not been obviously disturbed, or birds that have been flushed out of
Flyway - Migration route of birds between breeding
and wintering grounds. Also, the route waterfowl use between feeding and roosting
Forearm - The wooden extension of the stock which is under
the barrel and held by the shooter's left hand (or right hand, if he or she is
Fore-end - Portion of the wooden gunstock forward
of the receiver and under the barrel.
Fowler - Or fowling piece.
This is the term for a shoulder arm intended for use in game shooting. It would
have been lighter and more delicate than a rifle or musket, but with often very
long barrels of 50" or more. Fowlers, often exquisitely graceful and beautifully
decorated, were carried by persons of means who could afford a purpose-built arm
for bird shooting.
Fresh Line - Opposite of "cold line"
- a fresh, or "hot" scent of game pursued by hounds.
Choke - the tightest constriction or narrowing of the bore, producing the
greatest effective range.
Fur - All Four-legged quarry.
Fusil - A term for a light musket often carried by trappers, explorers,
and military officers in the 18th century. The fusil is similar in many ways to
Frizzen - Also called the battery or the steel (in
18th century terminology) this is the high carbon steel plate that the flint of
a flintlock scrapes against, making a shower of hot sparks to ignite the priming
powder. It hinges forward for priming, or back for firing. Forward, it exposes
the priming pan and touchhole.
Frizzen Spring- The spring which
provides snap and resistance to the travel of the frizzen in priming or firing.
It is nowadays always found on the exterior or the lock at the front, ahead of
the frizzen. On older locks, especially very highly finished and decorated ones,
the frizzen spring was sometimes internal, and not seen from the outside. This
allowed for more engraving and ornamentation on the lock plate.
Site- The sight on the very end of the barrel, near the muzzle. Usually a
thin blade of light metal like silver, it is visually lined up with the rear sight
and thus aligns the barrel on the target.
In British law, pheasants, all partidges, all grouse, woodcock and snipe; by custom,
also deer and hares.
Gang - A flock of brant. Also, an old British
term for a group of European elk (moose.)
Gas-operated - Said
of a semiautomatic firearm which utilizes the gases generated by the powder combustion,
before the bullet emerges from the muzzle, to operate a piston which extracts,
ejects, and reloads the arm to the extent of the number of rounds in the magazine.
Gauge - the term used to describe the interior diameter of the bore.
The smaller the gauge number, the larger the bore size. Modern shotguns are available
in 10, 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauge. An exception is the .410 bore shotgun, which is
actually a 67 gauge.
Ghillie - Attendant, usually in charge of
the pony, who accopanies a stalking party in Scotland, Also, an attendant on a
Glass (v) - To scan terrain with binoculars or telescope
to locate game.
Grain - Abbreviated gr. Weight measurement. One
ounce equals 437.5 gr. There are 7,000 gr in 1 lb (454 grams). In reference to
gunstocks, grain indicates the direction of the fibers on the surface of the stock.
Gralloch (v) - To field dress big-game animals immediately after shooting
by removing the viscera and entrails. See Field Dressing.
Abbreviated g. Weight measurement. The equivalent of 15.43 grains.
- Grasses, weeds, and similar low growths upon which deer and other ruminants
Grip - That part of the stock of a rifle or shotgun which
is grasped by the trigger hand when firing the gun. The two most comon types of
grips are the "pistol grip" and the "straight grip" found
on some double-barreled shotguns.
Group - A series of shots fired
at a target with a constant sight setting and point of aim. The diameter of the
group is measured from the centers of the outer holes.
- The distance between centers of the two shots most widely separated in a
Gun - Any smooth-bore weapon projecting a charge of pellets;
see also Rifle. Also, a participant in a British shooting party, as distinct from
a helper or spectator.
Hair Trigger - A trigger requiring extremely light pressure for the release
of the hammer.
Hammer - That part of a firearm, actuated by the
mainspring and controlled by the trigger, which strikes either the caratridge
rim or primer, or strikes and drives forward the firing pin so that it indents
the primer or rim of the cartridge, to discharge the cartridge.
- Of firearms having the hammer concealed within the breech mechanism.
Handgun - A firearm that is normally fired with one hand. A pistol
Handloads - Cartridges loaded by hand for precision
shooting, as opposed to commercial or "factory loads."
- Delayed ignition of the powder in a cartridge after the hammer has fallen
and the primer has been struck.
Hard-mouthed - Of a dog that chews
or crushes birds when retrieving.
Hart - The male deer. Usually
used to refer to male red deer in Britain. A Stag.
Hawken - see
Head (n) - The antlers of a deer, of any species
and of either sex.
Head (v) - For a shooter to take post in advance
of others to intercept birds flushing out of range of the rest.
- The space between the head of the bolt or breechblock and the base of the
cartridge. Excessive headspace is exceedingly dangerous and can result in the
bursting of the receiver.
Headstamp - The letters or number, or
both, on the base of a cartridge.
Heel (n) - Upper part of the
butt of a shotgun or rifle. Also, a command to a dog to walk quietly beside or
at the heel of the person giving the order.
Hide - Camouflaged
embrasure in which a shooter waits for duck or pigeon. See Blind. Also, the skin
of an animal.
High-base Shell - A shotgun shell furnished with
high inside base wad, approximately 3/4 inch (19 mm) thick before forming.
High-brass Shell - High-velocity shotgun shell on which the brass
base extends a considerable distance up the plastic tube.
- A term associated with a rifle or cartridge having a velocity of more than
2,500 foot-seconds (762 m/seconds.)
High Power - A term associated
with a rifle or cartridge having a velocity of more than 2,000 foot-seconds (609
Hind - The female of the red deer.
- a type of action in which a hinge mechanism separates the barrel from the standing
breech block, providing access to the chamber.
Hochstand (Ger.) -
The seat at tree-top height from which deer are shot in woodland.
- or powder horn. The most common way that powder (or rum, or salt,) was carried
on the body. Beautifully scrimshawed (scrimshanded?) horns of the 18th century
are a testament to the horn's place as an object of pride, and are still being
made today. The powder horn was not commonly carried by foot soldiers as they
carried preloaded cartridges made of paper. The horn was carried well into the
twentieth century by residents of mountain regions like the Appalachians, and
is hard to beat as a naturally occurring item that lends itself beautifully to
the purpose. It is waterproof, attractive, readily obtainable, can be fashioned
either crudely or beautifully, and is a natural funnel. See Flask.
- Empty cartridge or shell.
Hummle - A mature red deer stag
which has grown no antlers.
Hunting - In British usage, the pursuit
by a pack of hounds of ground quarry (fox, deer, hare) with followers mounted
or on foot; gun sport is "shooting" in British idiom.
Bull - A bull elk (wapiti) that has seven points on each antler; a relatively
rare and highly desirable trophy. Also, imperial stag in the case of European
Improved-Cylinder - least constricted or narrowed choke
causing shot pattern to widen relatively quickly.
Inline - a term
for the modern, highly accurate and efficient muzzleloading arms that have an
enclosed, weather-proof percussion mechanism. They look basically like a bolt-action
rifle, and are nearly as dependable. The accuracy is so good with these that most
are fitted with scopes. Many purists dislike them intensely simply on aesthetic
grounds, but you can't argue with success. Hunting regulations vary from state-to-state
as regards these rifles, so don't automatically assume that an inline rifle is
legal to use in your state for muzzleloading season.
Iron Sight - See
- The male of the hare.
Jacklighting - The illegal practice
of shooting game at night with the help of artificial light, which is reflected
by the eyes of the game. Synonymous with firelighting.
- A method of duck hunting in which the hunter stealthily approaches ducks
by boat, or by stalking toward water, until within range and then flushes them
Juvenile - A bird which, though having attained full growth,
has not attained full adult characteristics or plumage. See also Cheeper.
Rifle- also called Pennsylvania rifle, is the subject of much myth and legend
in American culture and history.
Kentucky Windage - A term used
by American riflemen to describe the process of "holding off" to the
left or right of a target to allow for the effect of the wind on the bullet, but
making no adjustment in the sight setting.
Knobber - Male red
deer in his second year.
Lead (n) - Term used to designate the distance it is necessary to hold
ahead of any bird or animal to compensate for its speed of movement and the time
required for the bullet or hot charge to reach it. The British term is forward
Lead (v) - To cause a dog to follow under restraint,
by means of a cord or leather thong attached to the dog's collar.
- A group of three quail, partridge, pheasant, grouse, or hares. Also, a cord
to lead a dog, a dog lead.
Length of Stock - The distance in a
straight line from the center of the trigger to a point midway between the heel
and the toe of the buttplate, on the surface of the plate. Required stock length
depends upon the build of the shooter, men of short stature or short arms requiring
short stocks. The standard length for hunting arms is 14 inches (35.6 cm) for
shotguns and 13 1/2 inches (34.3 cm) for rifles. Also called length of pull.
Line - The track or trail of an animal indicated by the scent the
hounds are following. Also, the shooters deployed at a formal shoot, called "the
Line of Sight - The straight line between the eye
of the shooter and the target. See Trajectory.
Of a dog that casts in straight lines rather than hunts in places where birds
are usually found.
Line Shooting - A form of scoter (sea duck)
shooting along the North American Atlantic coast, in which several boats line
up across a known scoter flyway to shoot at the birds as they fly past.
Live Weight - The computed or estimated weight of a game animal before
it is dressed out.
Loader - Attendant who holds and re-loads the
second weapon when a shooter uses two guns at a covert shoot where many birds
Lock - The mechanism which fires the rifle. The
combination of hammer, firing pin, sear, mainspring, and trigger which serves
to discharge the cartridge when the trigger is pulled. It can be flintlock, percussion,
inline (another form of percussion) or even the old methods like miquelet, snaphaunce
Lockplate - The large flat plate seen from the
outside of the rifle. The hammer and frizzen (or nipple, in a percussion rifle)
all sit atop the lockplate. It is often engraved or case-hardened for ornamentation.
Lock Time - The time elapsed between the release of the hammer
by the sear and the impact of the firing pin on the primer. Also called lock speed.
Lubrication of Bullets - Most lead bullets have to be lubricated with
grease or wax on their surface or in their grooves to prevent leading the bore.
Outside-lubricated cartridges have the lubricant placed on the surface of the
bullet outside the case. Inside-lubricated bullets have the lubricant in grooves
or cannelures on the bullet where it is covered by the neck of the case.
Lug - In a break-down, breech-loading shotgun or rifle, a lug on the barrel
secures the barrel to the frame. Lugs on the front of a bolt or breechblock which
rotate into slots to lock the action for firing are termed locking lugs.
Magazine - The tube or box which holds cartridges or shells in reverse
for mechanical insertion into the chamber of a repeating firearm.
Plug - Plug or dowel placed inside or against the magazine spring of a slide-action
or semiautomatic shotgun to limit the capacity of the magazine in order to comply
with the law. (In the United States, waterfowlers may have no more than three
shells in their guns; some individual states limit magazine capacity for other
Mainspring - The main spring ;) of the lock. This is where
the force necessary for firing the lock comes from, and this is what is compressed
when the hammer (or cock) is pulled back.
Mark - A call used
to warn another shooter of the flushing or approach of a game bird. The term is
often accompanied by a direction: "mark right" or "mark left."
Mark Down - To use some terrain feature to mark the location of a
fallen game bird in order to facilitate retrieving.
- One who hunted for the purpose of selling the game he killed, a practice
now illegal in North America. A market hunter.
Mask - The head
or pate of a fox, raccoon, wolf, or coyote.
Match Rifle - A rifle
designed for competitive shooting, a target rifle.
- Named after its inventor, this is a pointed (conical) projectile most commonly
associated with Civil War - era rifles. It has grooves around its flat, hollow
base which can be filled with a lubricating grease. This projectile allowed much
faster loading in combat as it didn't need to be patched. The explosion of the
powder charge "upset" the hollow base and expanded it to fit into the
rifling. Also, the pointed shape was efficient and accurate at longer ranges than
a round ball. See Buffalo Bullet.
Minute of Angle - This is the
unit of adjustment on all telescopic, and most aperture, sights, being indicated
by a series of fine lines.
Modified Choke - Moderate constriction
or narrowing of the bore.
Moor - High, treeless land such as that
inhabited by grouse.
Mounts - Metal bases used to secure a telescopic
sight to the barrel or receiver of a firearm.
Musket - Commonly
refers to a shoulder arm, designed to fire a single projectile, in which the barrel's
bore is smooth, not rifled, similar to a shotgun barrel. This was the most common
form of military arm in the 17th and 18th centuries, although the rifle was well-known
and widely used as well. The musket was a weapon of rather short range, usually
100 yards or less, and was often fitted with a bayonet for charges and hand-to-hand
combat. It helped shape the form of land warfare in the 18th century, and straight-line
ranks of troops advancing slowly together was the result. (You couldn't hit them
if you weren't pretty close to them!) Much of the incredible carnage of the Civil
War can be attributed to the use of these older, musket-based tactics in an age
of rifles, which had effective ranges out to 300 yards or more.
- the very end of a firearm, or basically the hole that the bullet comes out of,
on its way to the target. In a muzzleloader, it is where loading takes place,
thus the name.
Muzzle Brake - A device on the muzzle of a shotgun
or rifle which, by means of vents and baffles, deflects gases to the rear to reduce
Muzzle Energy - The energy of a bullet or projectile on
emerging from the muzzle of the firearm that discharges it. Usually designated
in foot-pounds or kilogram-meters.
Muzzle Velocity - The speed
of a bullet or projectile at the moment of emerging from the muzzle. Usually expressed
in feet or meters per second.
Nipple - The small hollow tube onto which is placed a percussion cap. The
hammer then falls on this cap, exploding a small chemical charge. The fire travels
down the nipple, turns a corner, and finds access to the main charge.
O'Clock - A means of indicating a location on the target or over a range
or field, corresponding to similar locations on the face of a clock, 12 o'clock
being at the top of the target, or at the target end of the rifle range. Thus,
a shot striking the target immediately to the left of the bull's-eye is a hit
at 9 o'clock, and a wind blowing from the right at a right angle to the line of
fire is a 3 o'clock wind.
Octagon - a very common shape for barrels
on many muzzleloading arms. The eight-sided profile is a common one, and came
into being for many different reasons. One is that in an age before readily available
lathes for turning metal, a round tube was quite a feat of craftsmanship, and
a smooth round profile was more challenging to file, whereas flat surfaces of
an octagon were easier to accomplish. This is just one theory, and could be argued
against. For whatever reason, the octagon barrel is a beautiful thing that is
here to stay. Many modern custom high-powered rifles are fitted with octagon barrels
for beauty's sake.
Offhand - Shooting in a standing position,
without the use of a rest or sling.
Over-and-Under - a two-barreled
shotgun with one barrel placed over the other. (The American version of the standard
British game shooting weapon.)
Palmated - Of the shape of the antlers of moose, caribou, and fallow deer
that is similar to the shape of the palm of a hand with fingers outspread.
Pan - Also called the priming pan. It is a shallow depression next
to the touchhole which gets a small dribble of fine powder poured onto it. The
frizzen is then closed over it. When fired, hot sparks will fall into the pan,
ignite the priming powderd this fire will go through the touchhole and fire the
Pass-shooting - A form of shooting in which the
hunter places himself in position under a known flyway or travel route of ducks,
geese, pigeons, or doves. The birds are shot as they pass, without the enticement
Patch Box- called just "the box" in the 18th
century. This is the brass, hinged box found on the stocks of different types
of rifles. No, it is not found only on Kentucky rifles, and no, the American gunmaker
didn't invent it. It is of German origin and is of two types. The hinged brass
box is found on German rifles that predate the American Longrifle, and is most
commonly seen today. The sliding wooden box has a dovetailed lid that slides off
the box cavity and gets frequently lost through time. Old rifles often have missing
or replaced wooden box lids.
Patching - The material - usually
cloth - which is placed around a rifle ball to allow a tight fit between the ball
and the rifling grooves. It forms a gasket, as it were, which uses the full power
of the powder charge without allowing gas to escape past the ball and be wasted.
In use long before the days of the American Longrifle, it allowed higher velocity
and greater accuracy, although it was slower to load. Muskets often were loaded
without patching, which allowed greater speed but much shorter range and lower
Pattern - The distribution of a charge of shot fired
from a shotgun.
Pattern Control - Control of the shot pattern
by means of choke.
Peep Sight - See Sights.
The numbered stick indicating the position of a shooter at a covert shoot or partridge
Pelage - The fur, hair, or wool covering of a mammal.
Pellet - Round shot, of any size, a given number of which make up
the shot charge.
Percussion - A firing mechanism commonly seen
on 19th century arms. It allowed a more dependable, more weather-proof firing
system. See Cap.
Picker-up - One who, helped by dogs, finds and
gathers what is shot.
Piece - The mid-day meal carried by a shooter.
Piston - In an automatic or semiautomatic arm, a metal plunger which,
when forced down a cylinder by powder gases, operates a mechanism to extract and
eject the fired cartridge, and to reload and cock the arm.
This can be observed by resting a gun upright beside a wall with the butt or butt
plate flat on the floor. If the barrel is exactly parallel with the wall, the
gun is said to have no pitch. If the breech touches the wall and the barrel inclines
away from it, the distance between the muzzle and the wall is the "negative
pitch."If the barrel inclines toward the wall, so that there is a distance
between the breech and the wall, this distance is what is called, simply, the
"pitch." A pitch of 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) is desirable on a repeating
rifle because it causes the butt to remain in place at the shoulder when the rifle
is fired rapidly.
Plains Rifle- The shorter, later version of
the Longrifle that went west over the Rockies. As time wore on, riflemen saw less
and less need for a very long barrel, or the slim, delicate fullstock underneath
it. Pioneers going west seemed to prefer a shorter rifle that could be loaded
and fired on horseback, and several gunshops catered to the trade. Trappers moving
west often stopped in St. Louis to order a rifle from the Hawken brothers, Sam
and Jake (who were, by the way, the sons of the York County, Pennsylvania gunsmith
Nicholas Hachen), although there were other rifle makers who made similar arms
for these travelers. Nowadays, the Hawken-style rifle is extremely popular and
available in many more or less historically accurate recreations not only because
it is suggestive of the highly colorful era of the fur trapper, but also because
it lends itself well to commercial manufacture unlike the earlier Longrifles.
Point - The motionless pose assumed by a dog which indicates
the proximity of game birds.
Points - The horn features of an
antlered head which determine its ranking as a trophy (e.g. "a twelve-pointer"
is brow, bay, tray, and three on top of each antler).
Point of Aim
- The bottom edge of the bull's eye for a target shooter using iron sights;
the center of the bull's -eye for one using a telescopic sight.
Out - A method of shotgun shooting in which the shooter selects a point ahead
of the moving target at which to shoot so that the shot charge and target will
meet. Opposite shooting style to "swinging past."
- See Sights.
Pot-hunter - One who hunts primarily for meat
rather than sport.
Powder - The finely divided chemical mixture
that supplies the power used in shotgun and metallic ammunition, technically propellant
powder. When the powder is ignited by the flash of the priming composition it
burns with a rapidly increasing gas which develops a pressure of 6,ooo to 55,ooo
lb per square inch (420 to 3900 kg per square cm) in the chamber and bore of the
gun. This gas furnishes the propelling force of the bullet or charge of shot.
Originally, all propellant powder was black powder formed in grains of varying
size, with the size of the grain determining the rate of burning and sutability
for various cartridges. Modern powders are smokeless and their base is nitroglycerine
or nitrocelluilose or a combination of both, the product then being called double-base
powder. The rate of burning is controlled by the composition, by the size and
shape of the grains, and whether or not coated with some retarding substance called
a deterrent. Those so coated are called progressive-burning.
- The outer and longest flight feathers of a bird; quill feathers.
Prime Pan - See Pan.
Primer - The small cup, or cap, seated
in the center of the base of a centerfire cartridge and containing the igniting
composition. When the primer is indented by the firing pin, the priming composition
is crushed and detonates, thus igniting the charge of powder. Rimfire cartridges
contain the priming composition within the folded rim of the case, where it is
crushed in the same manner. The British term is cap.
Pull - The
distance between the face of the trigger and the center of the butt of the gunstock.
Also, the amount of pressure, in pounds, which must be applied to the trigger
to cause the sear to disengage and permit the hammer to fall. Also, the command
given to release a skeet or trap target.
Pump - a type of action
that loads and ejects shells by "pumping" the forearm of the stock back
Pump Gun - Common name for the slide-action rifle or
shotgun. See Slide Action.
Pyrodex - One of several black powder
substitutes recently developed, along with others like Golden Powder and Elephant
Powder. They are all variations on a theme, attempting to overcome the mess of
clean-up involved with shooting black powder. Some substitutes are better than
others at various jobs, and it is part of the fun when you experiment to find
what works best for you. Always follow the gun manufacturer's instructions regarding
black powder or substitutes, and if you decide to use a substitute, follow its
manufacturer's instructions to the letter when loading. You absolutely cannot
always use the same powder charge in one as the other, nor can you always use
the same measuring device without resetting it for the particular substitute.
Pyrodex, for instance, is loaded volume for volume instead of black. But the same
volume of Pyrodex will weigh less than an equal volume black. If you used the
same weight of Pyrodex as you did of black, you would be using a heavier charge
of powder! See what I mean? Be extremely careful. The substitutes are safe and
useful when used according to their manufacturer's specifications, but you have
to be extra mindful of what you are using.
Quartering - A hunting-dog term for the act of ranging back and forth across
Quartering Bird - A bird which approaches the shooter
at an angle, either right or left.
- Or Rammer, in the 18th century. This is the long wooden shaft which allows the
ball to be pushed down the barrel and onto the powder charge. Always make sure
that you push the ball down onto the powder, until it stops!! To stop part of
the way down, or "short starting", is a potentially deadly mistake and
can burst a barrel when the gun is fired.
Ram Sight- the sight
placed farthest back on the barrel, near the shooter's eye. Usually it is some
form of notch, but it can also be a small aperture or hole through which the shooter
looks at the front sight, and then the target.
Rat-tailed - Lacking
long hairs on the tail, as in the case of such dogs as the Irish water spaniel.
Receiver - The frame of a rifle or shotgun includng the breech, locking,
and loading mechanism of the arm.
Receiver Sight - See Sights.
Recoil -The force with which the gun moves backwards into the shoulder
when fired. The "kick" of the firearm when discharged.
- Of a firearm which utilizes the recoil, or rearward force exerted by the
combustion of the powder, to operate the action and extract, eject, and reload
to the extent of the number of rounds in the magazine.
- A soft rubber pad on the butt of a firearm to soften its recoil.
Reduced Load - A cartridge loaded with a lighter than standard powder charge,
for use at a short range.
Reticule (or Reticle) - The crossed
wires, picket, post, or other divisional system installed in a telescopic sight
to permit its use as a gunsight, or in a pair of binoculars to permit the use
of a scale for estimating distances.
Retrieving - Dog's act of
finding and bringing an object, generally dead or wounded game bird, to the handler.
Revolver - Any handgun embodying a cylindrical magazine, as opposed
to a single-shot or semiautomatic handgun, either of which is usually called a
Rib - The raised bar or vane, usually slightly
concave on its upper surface and usually matted, which forms the sighting plane
extending from breech to muzzle of a gun. It is used on all double-barreled shotguns.
Rifle - refers to a shoulder arm with a barrel having twisting, spiral
grooves in the bore projecting a single rotating bullet. Also, as the Rifle, the
member of a stalking party who will fire the shot (cf. the Gun).
Slug - A bullet-shaped projectile with hollow base and rifled sides used in
a shotgun for hunting big game. Will not harm shotgun barrels and will not "ream
out" any type of choke.
Rifling - Parallel grooves cut into
the bore of a rifle or postol, spiraling from the breech to the muzzle, causing
the bullet to spin in its flight.
Rig - A setting of decoys in
front of a boat or blind; also used to describe the entire hunting outfit.
Rimfire - A cartridge in which the priming compound is contained in
a rim at the base.f
Ring Hunt - A form of driving in which a large
number of shooters and beaters form a ring and gradually close in, to drive the
game toward its center. An ancient method, still used in Europe, primarily for
hunting hares and foxes.
Rough-shooting - The pursuit and taking
of game and other quarry by Guns who have no human assistants but are generally
aided by spaniels. See also Dogging.
Royal - Fourth point, after
the tray and before the fifth, of antlers.
Royal Bull - A bull
elk (wapiti) that has six points on each antler. A very desirable trophy. Also,
royal stag of the European red deer.
Run - In some regions, a
game trail or path created by animals over a period of time.
- The device which locks a firearm against the possiblity of discharge; sometimes
called a safety catch. In common practice, the term applies primarily to the button,
pin, or toggle which, when set in the "safe" position, prevents the
discharge of the arm by pulling the trigger. A safety which automatically resets
itself in the "safe" position when the gun is opened during the reloading
process is called an automatic safety. Such a safety is most common on double-barreled
Take-down - Of a firearm in which the barrel and adjacent parts can be
readily separated from the receiver or action, thus permitting the arm to be packed
in a short container.
Scapulars - The feathers on each side of the back of
a bird's shoulders.
Scope - Telescope or telescopic sight on a
Sear - The mechanism which holds the lock at a half or full
cock position. The sear is what is actually tripped by the trigger in firing.
Sear Spring - The small spring that acts against the sear, causing
the small "click" as the hammer is pulled back.
- The wing feathers inside the primaries.
a type of action in which gas from the burning gunpowder in the shell automatically
ejects the spent shell and loads another. Semi-automatics are noted for minimal
Set - A "rig" or setting of decoys.
Set Triggers- A mechanism whereby two triggers (or sometimes one) are used
to create a very delicate "hair trigger" for precise shooting. Usually,
the rear trigger is pulled back thereby compressing a spring which "loads"
the front trigger. Then, a very light touch on the front trigger will fire the
rifle. They are nowadays always adjustable and usually always "double action".
In double action triggers, the forward trigger can still be used to fire the rifle
without pulling the rear one first. You would not have a hair trigger in this
case unless you wanted one. In single action triggers, the rear trigger would
have to pulled every time the rifle was fired. Not often seen today, but they
are available from some parts suppliers.
Sewelling - Cords carrying
colored streamers which, when activated, cause birds to flush far enough back
to ensure that they are flying high when over the Guns.
Empty case of any cartridge. Also, an American term for a loaded shotgun cartridge.
Shock Collar - A collar with an electronic device which can be set
off by remote control to give a dog an electric shock to punish it when it does
not obey or does something wrong. The shock collar is a dangerous instrument in
the hands of a novice trainer because it can ruin a dog when used incorrectly.
Shot - round projectiles, usually of lead or steel. Depending on shot
size and load, a shell can contain from 45 to 1,170 shot.
- the concentration of shot measured in a circle at a given range, usually
30 to 40 yards.
Shotshell or Shell - the ammunitin fired by shotguns,
consisting of five components: the case, primer, powder charge, wad, and shot.
Side-by-Side - a shotgun with two barrels sitting side by side. In
Great Britain, the standard game shooting weapon.
Sight Radius -
The distance between the front and rear sights. The longer the distance the greater
the accuracy of the firearm.
Sights - The aiming device on a firearm.
On most rifles and handguns, the factory-installed sights consist of two elements
called "front sight" and "rear sight," which together frequently
are called "iron sights" because they are made up of principally metal.
The front sight, located on the barrel near the muzzle, is usually post-shaped
or bead-shaped and hence sometimes called post or bead. The rear sight is usually
located partway down the barrel, near the breech or on the receiver. If it consists
of a V- or U-shaped notch in a flat piece of metal, it is called an "open"
sight. An open sight with a deep U-shaped notch with protruding wings is called
a "buckhorn sight." The rear sight can also consist of an aperture in
a disk. It is then called an aperture, or peep, sight. When the aperture sight
is attached to the receiver it is called a "receiver sight" and when
it is attached to the tang it is called a "tang sight." When the aperture
adjustments have micrometer settings, such a sight is cometimes called a "micrometer
sight." A hunting shotgun usually has only one sight consisting of a bead
near the muzzle, but most trap and skeet guns have a second bead halfway down
the barrel. There are also telescopic sights for rifles and handguns.
Sign - Any indication of the presence of game. Sign may include tracks,
droppings, marks on trees, or any other indication that the area has recently
been visited by a game animal.
Silvertip - Colloquial name for
the grizzly bear.
Singing Ground - An open area used by the male
woodcock for its courtship display.
Six o'Clock, or Six-o'Clock Hold
- A term for the aiming point indicating that a rifle or handgun has been
sighted-in to place the bullet not at the point of aim on a bull's-eye but well
above it, so that the shooter aims at the center of the bottom edge. If the bull's-eye
is a clock face, the point of aim is at 6 o'clock, but the impact point is at
the exact center, midway between 6 and 12 o'clock. Target shooters prefer to aim
in this way, when using iron sights, as it permits them to "rest" the
bull's-eye on the top of the front sight and center the bull's-eye in the rear-sight
aperture. See O'Clock.
Slide Action - A repeating firearm action
in which the breech is closed and opened and the action operated by means of a
sliding fore-end that acts as a handle for sliding the breech into the opened
or closed position. Also Pump Gun.
Small-bore - Specifically,
of a .22-caliber rifle chambered for a rimfire cartridge. Sometimes applied to
rifles chambered for centerfire cartridges up to .25 caliber and shotguns under
Smoked Sights - Sights after they have been blackened
by soot from a candle or blackening lamp, thus eliminating any shine or glare.
Commercial spray blackeners are also available.
Smoothbore - A
firearm without rifling.
Sneakbox - A term for the Barnegat Bay
Spike-collar - A dog-training accessory-- a slip collar
with small spikes on the inside, used to force obedience to commands.
Spook (v) - To frighten game. A term used by a hunter to indicate that
a bird or animal flushed or jumped from cover at his approach, or when it winded
or heard him.
Spooky - Of any animal or bird that is extremely
wary or constantly alert.
Spoor - Tracks or footprints of animals.
Sometimes used to mean all game sign.
Spotting Scope - A telescope
with sufficient magnification to permit a shooter to see bullet holes in a target
at long range, and to permit hunters to see game and evaluate trophy animals at
long range. The average sporting scope is 24 power.
Spread - The
overall area of a shotgun pattern. Also, the inside distance between right and
left antlers or horns at their widest separation or at the tips.
- An interlude of halting, waiting, and watching in which a deer shooter observes
his quarry and its movements before deciding the tactics of his approach.
Stag - The mature male of the red deer.
A method of hunting in which the hunter locates game and then stealthily follows
a predetermined route to arrive within shooting range of the quarry.
Stanch - Firm and decisive; describing a dog's style while pointing. The
dog that establishes a point and holds it, without caution or admonition, until
his handler flushes his birds, may be regarded as stanch. Also, spelled "staunch".
Stand - The position at which the shooters are placed for each drive
at a covert shoot (hence "first stand," "second stand," etc.).
Start - The moment when a hound first finds scent or a trail.
Steady - Of a dog's behavior after birds are flushed. The dog is "steady
to wing and shot" when he retains his position after the birds are flushed
and the shot is fired.
Still-hunt - A method of hunting in which
a hunter moves very slowly and silently through cover in search of game, pausing
frequently to scan the terrain. The word "still," in this context, means
silent rather than motionless.
Stock (n)- the "handle"
of the shotgun, the part held to the shoulder, comprising the butt, comb, grip
Stock (v) - In game management or preserve operation,
to stock is to release game into a suitable habitat.
Stop - An
assistant tactically placed to prevent pheasants approaching the shooters too
closely, or evading them, at a covert shoot.
Swamped Barrel- term
describing the tapered and flared profile commonly seen on barrels up until the
19th century. The breech end of the barrel would be heavy and strong for safety;
then the barrel would gradually taper down to an area about eight or ten inches
behind the muzzle, at which point it would flare back out to a diameter slightly
less than the breech. Frequently, the barrel would be an inch wide at the breech,
taper down to around 3/4" at the narrowest part, and back out to around 7/8"
at the muzzle. While it sounds strange, these barrels are incredibly graceful
and beautiful, giving a feeling of balance to the arm that must be felt to be
appreciated. A lot of unnecessary weight is gotten rid of, as well, and the lines
of the architecture of the entire rifle flow so much more beautifully than in
a straight-barreled arm. Today, swamped barrels are only found on custom made
rifles and are available only from custom barrel makers.
Past - A method of shotgun shooting in which the target is overtaken and passed
by the sight, and the swing with the target is continued as the trigger is pressed.
See Pointing Out.
Switch - A mature male deer whose antlers have
Tang Sight - See Sights.
- An old British term for a flock or group of ducks.
Sight - A telescope with reticule, permitting an aim of greater accuracy and
clearness than that of an ordinary sight.
Tertials - The wing
feathers inside the secondaries that are closest to the body.
Off - Of a rifle that is performing erratically or failing to give reasonable
accuracy. This often results from improper bedding of the barrel.
- The upper limit of forest growth at high altitude.
The lower part of the butt of a shotgun or rifle.
Tolling Dog -
A dog once widely used in Europe, and used now only in Nova Scotia, to entice
wildfowl to enter a trap or to lure them within range of the gun. The action of
the dog in running back and forth on the shore stimulates the birds' curiosity.
In Nova Scotia, these dogs are bred to resemble a red fox and are registered by
the Canadian Kennel Club as the Nova Scotia tolling retriever.
- The small hole in the barrel, right through to the bore, whereby the fire of
the lock is allowed entrance to the main charge. It is plainly visible in a flintlock,
but is covered by the nipple assembly in a percussion arm.
(v) - Of game, to move back and forth over a given area: "The ducks were
trading along the far shore."
Trailer - A dog which continually
or frequently follows his bracemate.
Trailing - Act of following
game. See Tracking.
Trajectory - The course described by a projectile
in flight. It forms an arc due to the effect of gravity. Usually, measured in
terms of height above the line of sight at midrange.
Tray - The
third point of antlers of a deer, after the brow and bay (or bez). The word is
sometimes spelt "trez."
Trigger - finger-pulled lever-single,
double and release-that drives the firing point forward and fires the gun.
Trigger Guard - A guard surrounding the trigger or triggers of a firearm.
Trigger Pull - The pressure required to bring about the release of
the sear notch on the hammer, permitting the hammer to fall.
- A virulent disease, known also as "rabbit fever." Rabbits are
its major victims, and great care should be exercised when skinning rabbits. The
disease can be communicated to humans if a cut or scratch on the hands or arms
makes contact with an infected animal. The disease can be fatal. No harmful effects
result from eating of an infected bird or animal, as thorough cooking destroys
Tumbler - The part of the lock that the hammer is screwed
onto. Inside the lock, it is also the place where the mainspring "hooks on",
transferring the force of the mainspring to the hammer.
- Originally, turkey shoots utilized a turkey as a target as well as a prize.
The bird was placed behind a shield with only its head protruding. In early turkey
shoots, contestants were permitted one shot in the standing position at 10 rods
(55 yards/50 m); later, the ranges varied. At modern turkey shoots, a regulation
target is used or clay targets are thrown from a trap, and the turkey going to
the shooter with the best score.
Turning to Whistle - A hunting-dog
term for breaking the cast and turning the dog in response to the handler's whistle.
Twist - The angle or inclination of the rifling grooves off the axis
of the bore. Twist is designated by measuring the number of turns or fractions
of turns to the inch of barrel length. A "14-inch twist" means that
the grooves make one complete turn inside the bore every 14 inches (35.6 cm).
Game - A general term for all small game, including birds and mammals.
Various - In Britain, fair but unexpected quarry for which no category
is provided in normal game records (e.g. jay, gray squirrel).
- A colloquial American Term (stemming from "vermin") for a generally
undesirable animal. Woodchucks and foxes are widely considered varmints. In some
regions, the term is also used for predators such as bobcats. However, many predatory
and non-predatory animals that were formerly classed as varmints are now protected
or managed as game animals.
Varmint Cartridge - Cartridge designed
to give exceptionally good accuracy, high retained velocity, and consequently
flatter trajectory. Varmint cartridges are so called becase they were originally
developed for long-range shooting at woodchucks and prairie dogs.
- A rifle employed primarily for long-range varmint shooting. Many such rifles
have long, heavy barrels for maximum velocity and accuracy.
- The speed of a bullet or shot chargek usually designated in feet per second
or meters per second.
Velvet - Soft vascular tissue which covers
the antlers of deer until they have attained their full growth and form, at which
time membranous tissue dies and is removed when the animal rubs its antlers against
brush and trees.
Ventilated Rib - A raised sighting plan affixed
to a shotgun barrel by posts, allowing the passage of air to disperse the heat
from the barrel which would otherwise distort the shooter's view of the target.
Very useful on trap and skeet guns.
Vernier Sight - A rear sight,
the aperture of which is raised or lowered by means of a threaded post with a
knurled knob. A vernier scale on the frame indicates the elevation in hundredths
of an inch.
Walk-up - A shooting method, chiefly for partridges and grouse, in which
the shooters and their companions advance in line through a crop, stubble or heather,
taking birds as they flush.
Wild Flush - The rise of game birds
for no apparent reason, usually far from the gun.
Wing - All feathered
quarry. See Fur
Winged - A term indicating that a game bird has
been hit but not killed. Used primarily by upland shooters. See Cripple.
WORM an 18th century term for the small steel jag that screwed onto the
rammer. This was used to hold flax or cloth patching for cleaning. Can also refer
to the screw used to pull a ball accidentally loaded without powder in the gun
Yard - An area, usually within a forest, in which a large number of deer,
moose, elk, or similar mammals herd together, tramping down the snow and feeding
on the browse supplied by the low branches. Used especially by whitetail deer
when snow becomes deep enough to impede normal travel through browse areas.
Zero - The adjustment of the sights on a rifle to cause the bullet to strike
a calculated impact point at a given range. A rifle with the sights zeroed for
100 yards will, under normal conditions, place the bullet in the center of the
target at that range.
Yaw - To vary from a straight course. A bullet which does not travel
exactly "nose on" but wobbles slightly sideways is said to "yaw".
Yeld - A female deer without offspring; if a red hind, and barren,
generally the leader of the herd.