I am in a quandary–I can’t decide whether I am actually the next national champion or in fact a pretty average shot. Pride tells me with absolute certainty that the former is far more likely to be true. Evidence to support this seemingly-outlandish claim includes the fact that I hit eight–yes, eight–clays in a row, five minutes into my second lesson (read the blog of my first shooting lesson here), at the Apsley Sporting Shooting School and at least three ‘off the tower’ (very difficult, I am told). It transpired that what was holding me back was the fact that I kept closing one eye, instead of opening both, and my cheek (which, in case there is any concern, has fully recovered from the bruising incurred in lesson number one), needed to be further forward, and sitting snugly on the butt of the gun.
Before I get too carried away, and in the name of keeping a degree of integrity, at this point it is probably only right that I regale some shaming news–the words, ‘you shoot like a robot’ were uttered on more than one, during this my second lesson. By way of explanation, I was not sweeping the gun towards and across the target in one smooth movement, but rather in a series of short, jerky ones…not pretty.
Other common shooting errors include ‘Harry Pottering’ (waving the gun around like a magic wand…I am not, you will no doubt be relieved to hear, guilty of this).
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Anyway, swiftly back to the evidence in favour of my competence–once I had overcome the whole sorry robot debacle, I was away, and ‘shooting like a jedi’ (I was far more pleased with this analogy). The exhilaration that I felt in my first lesson had certainly not dampened, in fact, if anything my enthusiasm was flying high (unlike the clays, which were being splattered in all directions…am I boasting?)
My instruction from Darron was far more focused on gun-handling and etiquette, as I am told this is of equal, if not greater importance than the shooting itself. This is not only from a safety point of view, but also in respect to the way that things are traditionally done. I learnt how to take the gun in and out of its sleeve safely, and how to load and eject cartridges. This was one of my favourite bits–trying to get them to eject straight into the bin. Apparently all the top shots can eject cartridges over their shoulders, hit it with their foot and kick it into the bin, all without looking…I’m going to practice this at home. The smell of the gun after the cartridges had pinged out was also amazing. (Cue a brief but amusing discussion about how much more attractive women would be if they wore this scent, alongside that of wet Labrador…the jury’s out on that one).
My father rather amusingly decided to bring his own gun to the lesson (‘just in case’), and was duly allowed to shoot a few from the tower at the end of the day, by way of reward for his patience.
I might swiftly add that following the first blog, there was no whooping across the shooting ground this time, but I definitely caught sight of at least two of what I can only assume to be celebratory victory dances when I hit a few in a row. To conclude–progress is good, there is no post-lesson cheek bruising, confidence is high, bring on lesson number three!