What are my local psychos armed with?

A few weeks ago I noticed that someone had shot up a big sign along my regular mountain-biking trail (pic / detail). It’s a little worrying, as I’ve grown fond of not being shot at, and the targeted sign is bounded by popular footpaths on three sides (google map).

Ideally I’d like to know the identity of the arsewipe perp so the cops can deal with them, but failing that, I’m curious as to what this sign was shot with. The sign is about 4 feet high and I reckon is made from sheet aluminium alloy (possibly stainless steel but I doubt it, and definitely not galvanised steel). It appears to have been targeted by a shotgun, but I’d have thought a standard 12-bore (gauge) would have blown a big hole with each shot.

Judging by the close pellet grouping and lack of lateral pellet damage I’d also say that it was shot at close range and at a normal angle, in which case I’m also curious to know how the offender didn’t get a face full of ricocheted buckshot.

As a bit of background, the location is Chilling, on the Hampshire coast in southern England. Gun laws in the UK are very strict; no-one bar the military and a small number of highly trained police are allowed handguns, and it’s not easy to get a shotgun licence. This is the only example of wilful firearms damage I’ve ever seen in the UK. I’ve never held a gun, yet alone used one, so I’m only hypothesising from the evidence and a bit of physics. So… calling on Dopers who know one end of their 2nd Amendment from the other to enlighten me.

Must it have been hit by gun shot? The dents look irregular enough that being hit with some kind of stick or metal bar might have caused them.


Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.

Er, I mean, looks like shotgun to me, too.

Buckshot is .33 caliber per pellet and only 9-12 in a 12 gauge load.

That’s birdshot and from far enough for the pellets to spread out(1 inch per yard).
They didn’t penetrate as each pellet is too light to pack enough punch to get through metal.

I just learned something! I thought buckshot was a general term, but it kind of makes sense to have deer-sized shot for deer and bird-sized shot for birds. Except that it’s illegal to shoot a deer with a shotgun in the UK, which didn’t stop the criminally rogue building contractors down the road, kept my friend in the house next to the site up all night with the sound of dying deer screams. A pro marksman with a rifle is the only approved culling method.

Those impact spots are dished in about half an inch and are about 2" in diameter, so I guess matey must have been no more than a couple of yards away. I do hope they got a pellet in the eye.

Thanks for the replies guys; a tad worrying though to think that there’s an armed headcase on the loose near me. It’s all arable fields and copses in this area, so shotgun discharges aren’t unusual, but they’re never anywhere near a public right of way, there’d be hell to pay if a bystander caught some lead.

That area is surrounded by fields, someone probably has shooting permissions on one or more of those fields. They may have passed that sign moving from one field to another (as to why they would risk their shotgun certificate by shooting the sign is any ones guess).
You could ask the local firearms officer to check who has shooting permissions on those fields, but they won’t (shouldn’t) tell you. Hopefully they will follow it up with whoever has a permission and a SGC.

Incidentally your friend should have called the police in regards to that deer, they would have responded vigorously and the culprits would have lost their certificates and more than likely a few years in prison. The police take the firearm laws very seriously (as they should).

It is birdshot.

I wouldn’t worry too much about getting shot by these people. I grew up in a rural area of the US with a long, proud history of shooting signs, and assaults with firearms were very rare.

Well, I dunno about the rest of you, but that makes me feel better!

I also grew up in a rural area and pretty much EVERY sign has dents/holes in it from being shot.

Pretty sure almost all such shootings are performed very early (4:00-5:00 AM) as a sort of warm-up for deer hunting.

Right, because pride really is what it’s all about.

And as long as we’re having a firearms lesson: the informal dividing line between the two is that it’s considered buckshot if the pellets are large enough to have a specific number loaded into the shell, whereas birdshot is loaded into the shell by weight.