Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity or difficulty of this week’s lesson. With less than two months to go until ‘Game Day,’ I have a lot to learn- and fast- and there was no edging me in slowly this week! The session centred on what I can expect to encounter on the day with a heavy emphasis on safety in the field. I practiced everything; from taking the gun out of the slip safely (which I’m assured I will become less cack handed at the more I practice) to mounting it out of shoulder whilst waiting for a drive.
After firing four shots at the grouse butt to ensure I hadn’t forgotten everything I’d been taught in my first lesson- and I’m proud to say I hadn’t, hitting 3 out of 4 clays straight from the off- we headed to the low tower. A few practice shots later and I was learning to start with the gun out of shoulder, something I was incredibly weary to try and convinced would hurt. I worried that bringing the gun to my shoulder whilst trying to process the direction of a clay and where I needed to be in relation to it would be too much.
The unsettling thought that I might rattle my shoulder or bruise myself with poor gun positioning concerned me. Clive was, as always, incredibly patient; he demonstrated, explaining the mechanics of what I was doing and had me practice without the pressure of firing a shot, repeating the movement until I was comfortable and confident enough to continue. I was relieved to find that it didn’t hurt and pleasantly surprised to see that I was still hitting clays. Answering questions after each shot really helped me to gauge my progress, understanding what went well and what wasn’t quite right was far more useful than simply being told where or when to shoot, and I became irritated at my own mistakes as soon as I could identify them.
“Understanding what went well and what wasn’t quite right was far more useful than simply being told where or when to shoot”
We spent the majority of the lesson covering the basics at the low tower, the varying directions I might be faced with and how to move the gun safely and effectively in each. Towards the end of the lesson we moved on to a more formidable challenge, a stand which will keep me coming back for lessons until I have proved to myself that I can and will best it.
The high tower has quickly become my nemesis, a sentiment I seem to share with most guns, novice or otherwise. I tried to convince Clive that I should start with the gun in place- it being a different stand and me being relatively new to the whole process- but he was having none of it. You could sum up the whole ordeal with the concise ‘you tickled its tail feathers,’ a phrase I’m determined to hear as little as possible in my coming lessons. My bruised ego was comforted by the knowledge that Clive was happy with my movement of the gun, getting there quicker will come in time (hopefully).
Another hour of shooting was over far too quickly. Perhaps a week to let my arms recover and the new information sink in will better my shooting but I have a feeling that it is indeed practice that makes perfect and I have an awfully long way to go!
Until next time…