“Usually, when a new book about pigeon shooting is published, you have to sift through its pages and first of all discard the old wives’ tales that the author insists are essential to success. Stuff like cutting the eyelids off dead birds before you use them as decoys, or pigeon having the ability to work out that a scruffy hide built in the middle of a field contains a shooter with evil intent.
Occasionally, thought, a book comes along that reinforces the principles, established more than 50 years ago by the legendary Archie Coats, of making large bags of pigeon, and brings them up to date. Such a book is about to hit the market (and in time for Christmas, pigeon shooting widows take note!) and it is this one, Tom Payne’s The Pigeon Shooter’s Diary.
Tom has a remarkably common-sense approach to the art of pigeon shooting for someone so young. This can be attributed to his farming background. The son of Hertfordshire farmer, he has been shooting since the age of eight and took his first bag of pigeon at 13, when pigeon shooting became his main passion.
There is no doubt that being exposed to daily habits of woodpigeon on a regular basis allows you to predict when and where this sporting bird will feed, essential information if you hope to outsmart it and make large bags. Tom goes through every detail, from obtaining permission from farmers, to selling or preparing the bag at the end of the day. You will read the word “reconnaissance” on every page, as Tom rightly points out that this is the cornerstone or every day out in the field, whether it results in a bag of 15 or 215. Various crops are dealt with, as well as the tactics needed to consistently get the best results, taking weather conditions into consideration.
There is not a single aspect of the sport that Tom has not applied his analytical mind to with a view to maximising any opportunities coming his way, from emphasising the importance of sound technique to comfort in the hide. All in all, this book has potential to become the pigeon shooter’s bible for years to come.”
This article was originally published in the Shooting Times on the 7th of September 2016 and can be read online here.