Elaine and I were driven up to a very muddy farm somewhere near one or both of the Trimdons by John Waite (a former work colleague of Elaine’s) for our first attempt at clay pigeon shooting. Neither of us had ever held, let alone fired a shotgun, but John took plenty of time to show us how to hold the gun, how to load it, aim it, fire it, discharge the cartridges and most importantly of all, how to do all of those things safely.
It’s all well and good watching an expert shot… shooter… shootist… making everything look ridiculously easy (similar to golf, darts, snooker et al); but the reality becomes clear very quickly when a novice has a go, and we were both well aware that hitting a tiddly little flying plastic disc would be incredibly difficult.
And so it proved.
I was actually very good… at shouting “Pull”, but sadly my first few attempts hit nothing but thin air, as clay after clay returned to terra firma in the same pristine condition in which they’d been projected skywards. Elaine’s turn next…
John helped her adopt the proper position, which Elaine duly adapted into her own stance… a stance which saw her propelled backwards into John’s safe arms when the gun recoiled; John even managed to catch the ear defenders that fell off Elaine’s head as two more discs floated gently and unscathed back to earth.
I shouldn’t have chuckled; but I did. Elaine’s riposte was to shatter one of the next clays into a thousand fragments…
John had a couple of guns with him, but I couldn’t hit anything with either of them. The reason soon became apparent when I was given the chance to try a left-handed gun….
I was given a few more pointers about where to aim and a few shots later, I clipped the edge of a clay and deflected it away to the right. It wasn’t as dramatic as Elaine’s, but it was a hit nonetheless. A couple more misses followed, but then another hit… and another… then another… and then a fourth in a row. No one was more surprised than me.
The young lad who was operating the trap then gave me what I understand was (for him) a massive compliment, when he said: “Not the worst I’ve seen for a first attempt…!”
We then had a few shots from two other traps; the low one sent the clay away from you, the high one towards you. John gave us a quick demonstration… “Pull”… bang, bang… two clays blown to pieces. I really struggled with the change of angles—although it didn’t help when I called for a clay from the low trap and Elaine pressed the button to release one from the high trap at the other end of the field—but Elaine did brilliantly and managed successive hits.
We had no expectations of being any good—which was just as well—but we both managed to break our clay pigeon duck (very clever use of the “double bird”); we really enjoyed the experience, and with massive thanks to John, challenge no.84 is now safely ticked off…