Terry Doe Interview.
Terry Doe, The man behind the gun.
Interview with Terry Doe, Editor in Chief for Air Gunner and Airgun World magazines.
So Terry how long have you been shooting and what got you started?
I was pretty much born into it, really. My father has always been involved in shooting and country sports, and I followed him into the hunting field as soon as I was able to walk. That was over 50 years ago, and I’ve been a shooter all of my life.
How did you get into competition shooting, and what titles do you hold?
I began shooting in field target competitions shortly after joining my first airgun club, Burnham, back in 1986, or thereabouts. I thought I knew a bit about shooting an air rifle but I learned more in the first month at that club than I had in all the years before joining. That’s one of the reasons I recommend joining a club; there’s just so much opportunity to learn.
Some of my club mates were going to a field target shoot at Wendover and I tagged along. The buzz I got from that first event, plus the way the ‘stars’ of the sport treated me that day, had me instantly hooked, and I remained so for the best part of a decade.
During my time on the FT competition circuit, I managed to win the European Championships, two UK Spring Gun titles, the U.S. National Championships, half a dozen Grands Prix, 40’ish open titles and around 300 trophies of one sort or another. The friends I’ve made and the fantastic times we had were the real prizes, though. FT, and now HFT, opens the door to so much more than shooting, as anyone who’s taken part will tell you.
Where did fishing come into your life?
Fishing was always there as part of the ‘country kid’ pursuits package, but in the last 15 years or so it’s become ever more important to me as a means of escape and spending a night or two kipping outside every couple of weeks. I was born in the middle of a field and that’s where I’m ‘at home’. So, living in my bivvy at the side of a lake, connected to the countryside, is not just something I do, it’s something I absolutely need.
What was your first air rifle and what was your first competition rifle?
My very first air rifle was a second-hand, break-barrel Diana, the model of which I’ve long forgotten. It previously belonged to my cousin and I treasured it beyond measure. I was 9 years old and spent every waking hour with that little rifle.
My first competition rifle was the customised Weihrauch HW77K that Airmasters built for me. ‘Emily’ was, and still is, a superb example of just how good a springer can be, and I’ll love her forever.
When did you take up hunting, and why?
As previously stated, I was a very young lad when I first followed my dad into the hunting field, and I did so because that was simply what young country boys did back then. I shot my first rabbit with a .410 shotgun when I was 7 years old, assisted by my dad of course, and I’ll never forget the pride I felt when ‘my’ rabbit was part of a family meal.
Most of us country boys are well built, Being a large-built gentlemen do you find it difficult to obtain hunting and shooting clothes that fit, as being 6`5 Is not the average height or build in the UK?
Well, Greg, I have to tell you that these days I’m no quite as large as I used to be, mate. I’ve lost well over three stones (and counting!), and I’m well into my healthy eating and exercise these days. Yes, really.
As for clothing, I’ve always been able to get good quality, practical gear, even when I was a proper fat git, and like so much to do with shooting, I’ve never known as much choice as there is today.
I hear you have a very special lady in your gun rack?
That will be Emily, then. She’s named after another long-term love of my life, the singer Emmylou Harris, and the attraction to both will remain for life.
Do you think the UK air rifle scene is portrayed well?
Certainly not by the tabloid media, no! I’m the UK spokesman for airguns on behalf of the Shooting Sports Trust, and I’ve been responding to the depiction of our sport in the media for around 20 years now. Let’s just say that the overall media presentation of airgunners is more of a betrayal than a portrayal. It’s often quite difficult to get our voice heard these days, but that will never stop me, and those who campaign on behalf of shooters, from doing all we can to set the record straight. Shooting is ‘family’ to me, and seeing it unfairly and deliberately bad-mouthed will never be acceptable.
Do you see us as pest control or vermin hunters?
I see us as many things, but we all use a piece of hi-tech, ingenious sporting equipment through which to express our skills. We should all enjoy our sport in the way that gives us most pleasure, while doing our utmost to protect the rights and future of all shooters. That sounds all sorts of ‘right-on’ but it’s how I really see it. We have more than enough detractors outside shooting, thanks, without shooters themselves putting each other down. Just enjoy what you do, represent your sport in a credible way, and be prepared to act in the sport’s defence when required. Sorry, I went off on one a bit there1
If money was no object and any rifle or pistol was available, what would be your dream purchase?
I’d have a Whiscombe JW50. It’s one of the few airguns I’ve always wanted but never got around to buying. John Whiscombe is a gentleman, as well as a genius, and I’d like an example of his craftsmanship in my gunroom.
It only takes around 2-3 ft lbs of energy if placed well to kill cleanly, what do you think is the max range of the current rifles, bearing in mind FT as and HFT shooting pushes shots out to 55 yards?
The potential effective range of any hunting standard, sub-12 ft.lbs. air rifle will always be considerably greater than that of its user. In simple terms, our guns outshoot us by some degree, these days, and that means we, and not the rifles, are the limiting factor. Remember, this is the hunting field we’re talking about, and not a shooting range where bench rests, all the time we need to get into our chosen stance, and waiting for the wind to play nice produces ‘perfect’ conditions. It’s a different world entirely when you’re hunting, and operating a ‘one shot to count’ system, as we al have to in the field.
In terms of yards, I limit myself to 40, and usually closer to 35, unless there really isn’t a breath of wind, and I’m shooting off sticks or some other rock-steady platform. Pulling off occasional mega-long shots is one thing, but being able to group consistently, inside an inch, under hunting conditions, well that’s something else entirely.
What is your preferred quarry?
I’ve always enjoyed shooting rats, and now it’s squirrels that give me that real hunting buzz. I’m immensely impressed with the work that Jerry Moss and his Penrith Red Squirrel Group are doing to re-establish our native reds, and anything I can do to reduce the negative impact of grey squirrels is always satisfying – plus I love eating them!
Do you eat what you hunt and can you share your favorite recipe?
I never waste good meat, and as previously said, squirrel is seriously tasty, especially when lightly fried and served with a satay dip. I love strips of garlic-fried pigeon breast, red onion, rocket and finely chopped chilli, with a dressing of some sort, in a tortilla wrap. Finally, anything edible, rabbit, pigeon or squirrel, as part of a stew is the dish-delish at any time.
Could you offer your top 5 tips for anybody new to the air rifle scene?
1. Join an airgun club. You’ll learn about safety, how to shoot, and what sort of hardware suits you best.
2. Don’t get hung up about power; it’s accuracy that counts, and developing the skills to place a pellet where you want it to go.
3. Train – don’t just shoot. Work at the things you’re not so good at, rather than staying in your comfort zone.
4. Use a good spring-piston rifle on a regular basis. This will keep you sharp and your skills up to standard.
5. Never, ever forget to have fun.
Chatting to a fellow hunter the other day we joked how we used to use motor bike batteries and car spot lights for hunting, with all the modern kit out there what is your _favourite item and why?
I remember the days of DIY lamping gear, and the backbreaking effort of hauling around lead-acid batteries that dissolved your clothing. Lamping kit has undergone nothing short of a revolution, now, and so has nightvision hardware. The NiteSite NS200 is a particularly impressive piece of kit, but there are so many others. I love my Idleback shooting seat, the latest generation of hunting clothes and footwear, the superior pellets available, and the fact that scopes are better and more affordable than ever. Then we have laser rangefinders, compact binoculars and a zillion good quality hunting knives, so there’s no way I could pick a favourite. That Idleback of mine gets some serious use, mind.
Out of all the rifles you have reviewed and used over the years, do you have a favorite and why?
Again, that’s an impossible one because there have been so many rifles covering so many uses. I just consider it a privilege that I’ve been allowed to be in on the development of so many excellent airguns, and to have been the first to test them. I’m currently due to test the brand-new Air Arms FTP900 and I’m as excited about that as I was when I tested my very first rifle for Airgun World over 20 years ago.
Desert island time, one rifle, one piece of tech and one track, to take with you?
I’d take a .22 Theoben Eliminator to provide food without running out of air, my fully-loaded Kindle and its 3000 eBooks, and a track of Emmylou Harris singing ‘Boulder To Birmingham’. Sorted!
Thank you very much Terry Doe.
Entirely my pleasure, Greg, and thanks for inviting me, mate.