Sunday, 15 July 2007


Had a go at clay pigeon shooting, yesterday. As complete novice to the country sport, I approached it as entirely recreational not competitive, so it didn’t matter that I was last in the overall scores. I was quite happy enough that, in one instance at least, I did manage to hit both ‘birds’ with a single shot - which, clearly, is the main object of this particular exercise.

The venue was a shooting range, on farmland off East Lane, near Horringford. The weapon I used was a 20-year-old Winchester ‘Diamond Grade’ over/under 12-gauge shotgun. When I (very nearly!) got used to the heft and recoil, I did like the way it ejected spent cartridges with the ‘breaking’ action. That bit was… um; cool, especially when I got both shells to jump straight into the nearby bin, instead of hitting anyone standing behind me.

Judging from how experienced gunmen (of Island Practical Shooting Club) helpfully explained the required techniques for proper stance and aiming, it seemed to me this sporting activity attempts to re-train our basic stone-throwing skills into a different tool-user’s reflex. Although the old hands made it look easy, it’s rather more difficult to hit moving targets than I’d imagined. Overall, it really was great fun (I can still smell the gun smoke), for an afternoon in the woods with shotguns. Thanks to John, Dave, and my brother Stephen, for their patience.

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