Lamping with Rifles:
A Simple Guide
Lamping with rifles is the sport of shooting at night with the aid of a high powered light. It’s a great pest control method for both foxes and rabbits but can also be used to shoot hares. Although this page focuses on shooting rabbits, you won’t go too far amiss following this advice for foxes. So, let’s get started.
What You’ll Need
First things first, you need a gun. Its possible to lamp with a good air rifle, but this sport is mostly for those lucky people who own a .22 rifle. As long as the rifle has the range and the power to make the kill its more then good enough to use. But keep in mind, if you use a gun that makes almost any kind of sound the chances are you’ll scare off anything you don’t shoot.
Then of course you need a lamp. Now this is a tricky business, because you’ll need to be able to aim both the lamp and the gun at the same time (Unless you have a friend along that is). Its possible to buy many different lamps that attach to a rifle and for a fair price. The best place to ask is your local firearms shop.
The lamp will have to be a good solid beam. You need to be able to see what you’re shooting! It wouldn’t be wise to use anything under 50w, look for lamps marked ‘1millon candle power’. Its also a good idea to get yourself a red filter lens, if you plan to go lamping with rifles on the same field a few times.
How To Lamp
Most professional rabbit exterminators will use a high powered spot light when they go lamping with rifles. Meaning they don’t even leave their vehicle, just sit their and shoot rabbits like they where in a barrel. But for the most of us, we need to carefully search the field, looking for that glint of ruby rabbit eye.
The first step to lamping is being able to shoot. Take your time shooting at a target until you’re able to hit your target almost without fail. Then you need to check the ground you plan to shoot on during the day. This is where a lot of beginners go wrong. It’s all to easy to miss important landmarks and shooting obstacles at night. A scout during the day does wonders.
Head out on a windy and dark night (with the land owners permission of course!) and try your best to stay downwind of where you think the bunnies will be. The first places to look at near hedge lines, ditches and wooded areas. Slowly scan the area with your light until you see that ruby glint.
This is where lamping with rifles gets tricky. If you have a friend holding the light, they shouldn’t be aiming the beam directly at the rabbit, just a little shy. Once the light hits the rabbit it’ll freeze up (hence the term a rabbit in the headlights) or It’ll bolt. So if you have your lamp attached to your rifle, you have to aim it at the rabbit to...well, to aim at the rabbit! So once you are sure of your target, you’ll have to aim quickly and shoot right away.
Once you have made your shot, your natural instinct might be to head over to your kill. If you do there’s a chance you’ll spook off what ever else is in the area. The only reason to go to a shot target is if it needs to be dispatched. Its cruel to leave an animal suffering and can even be illegal. If you want more advice about killing rabbits, try
all about dispatching rabbits.
Other lamping Tips
• Setting up you gun before you go lamping is a must. Its silly heading out without your sights set.
• Carry an extra battery, you’ll be gutted if you have to cut a trip short im sure.
• Lamping is best in the darkest of nights. Cloudy nights are best, but trips when the moon is new are the next best thing.
• Always let the landowner know what night you plan on shooting and roughly what time, just to save yourself any problems.
• Never shoot at just eyes. Dogs, cats or even people can be confused if you only half look.
• If out with a group, always stick together. Shooting is a fairly dangerous sport during the day, so all the same rules apply but with extra care.
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For the BASC's page about safety Lamping with rifles, click