My oldest sister Sam is a very outdoors-y kind of person. My whole family are, but Sam is especially keen on that kind of thing. Earlier this year she took me up to Scotland for a couple of day’s fishing trip (see: My Scottish mini-break). This time, she asked if I would like to try clay pigeon shooting, and actually it is something I have always wanted to try, so she booked me a taster session, and off we went.
The weather was pretty miserable when we went to The Southdown Gun Club, but actually I preferred it being like that. The place gets extremely busy, especially at weekends, but a cold, rainy Friday afternoon meant that there were very few people around. My instructor, Ben, went through the safety procedures and explained the basics about holding the gun, and then it was time to have a go.
I knew that balance would be an issue for me. As I lack the full use of my abdominal muscles I find it quite difficult to lift heavy things with both arms. I am pretty strong, and can lift heavy weights with one arm, but only if I can use the other arm to hold onto something to stabilise myself. So I was nervous about being able to hold the gun without falling forwards and ending up shooting the ground. I was given the lightest gun they had, and we tied a scarf around my waist to the wheelchair to help prevent me toppling forwards. Ben was so chilled about me figuring out what worked best for me, and he started off by helping to support the gun (and me!)
The first few shots were just to get the hang of it, but once I started I just wanted to keep going… Ben explained after each shot how far away I was from the clay, and what I should try and do for the next shot, but he did also say that I shouldn’t over think it and just go with my instincts. So I did… and I really started to get the hang of it…
And I actually started to hit the clays, and I found that the less I thought about what I was trying to do, the easier it was. When I managed to hit three in a row, Ben decided that we should move on to a more difficult clay flight path… after a couple of close shots I managed to hit the clays there as well. Turns out I seem to have some natural talent when it comes to clay pigeon shooting!!!
I really really enjoyed this little afternoon activity. I am always so competitive with myself, so I enjoyed the challenge of trying to get a perfect shot each time. As it was quite difficult for me to keep my balance and stay upright, I got pretty tired and started losing my new found skills! I was told that this happens to everyone when they try it for the first time, and I hadn’t actually realised that I’d been shooting for well over an hour. So I finished with a pretty good shot and we called it a day. I’m so glad Sam introduced me to this… I look forward to going again, and I’m quite keen for a little competition with her in the future!