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Vintage call to arms for Jim

PUBLISHED: 10:31 29 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:07 06 July 2010

WITH an interest in steam railways, flying, film and maritime history, James Macfarlane was a man of many hobbies.

But to many the popular Scotsman, known as Jim, will by most fondly remembered for his passion for vintage firearms.

WITH an interest in steam railways, flying, film and maritime history, James Macfarlane was a man of many hobbies.

But to many the popular Scotsman, known as Jim, will by most fondly remembered for his passion for vintage firearms.

Jim was a member of the Vintage Arms Association from 1970 up to his death in 2009, and was even presented with the group's Single Action Revolver Trophy in hospital late last year. He was a man that always had time for others and was keen to pass on his beloved hobby to others.

Jim's love of rifle and pistol shooting began when he moved from Edinburgh to Lowestoft in 1969. He joined a small bore rifle club in Beccles and quickly his interest grew. He helped to establish Brooke Marine Rifle and Pistol club, and at Pye Television Pistol range they enjoyed .22 rifle shooting and full bore pistol shooting.

In 1970 he was invited along to Horsford in Norwich with a promise of seeing something quite different. He was introduced to black powder shooting and was instantly hooked.

In The Primer, The Journal of the Vintage Arms Association, Jim wrote: “This was it, I had to apply and join The Vintage Arms Association. I went out and got myself a percussion revolver.

“Ignoring some good natured advice I bought a repro Colt Walker made by Armi San Marco, weighing in at 4 ½ pounds. I was assured that I would never hit anything with it, unless I threw it at the target. However a few years, I had mastered it, and began to win a few competitions with it.”

Jim would remain hooked by old-style weapons, black powder and cap-and-ball firearms of the 19th century, becoming chairman of Suffolk Viking Pistol Club. He won many medals and cups, spending much time travelling to Wickham Market shooting range.

He was fascinated in black powder shooting, and enjoyed the time consuming process of measuring it all and loading. He made the lead balls himself and even created a few cannons.

“I used to be wary about having the weapons in the house, but he used to joke that no-one would shoot us as it would take them so long to load them up,” said his wife Anne, who has sold all of his weapons so that they can continue to be used.

Late last year Jim discovered that he had lung cancer from asbestos and died on December 20 at the age of 77. He left his wife, two children Fiona and Ken, and four grandchildren Georgia, Hazel, Lewis and Annya.

“I didn't realise just how popular he was,” said Anne. “I've had letters from so many people saying it was a privilege to know him and how he had passed on his knowledge to them.”

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