The name of the game (get it?) this week was ‘expect the unexpected.’ 20 shots at four stands with minimal input from Clive; that is, if he could resist the temptation to correct me for long enough- onus on me then! The point of this was to prepare me for what’s in store this Saturday when I head off for my first formal game shoot. To get me used to every aspect of the day’s shooting; from loading my own cartridges to mounting the gun when a clay (or pheasant, hopefully) appears.
We started at the high tower. Gulp. With no comprehension of when the clays would appear and in which direction they might be headed I panicked slightly, a fear that was quickly forgotten after hitting the first two. I set a good precedent for the rest of the lesson missing only a few and mostly to the right. With that confidence in my back pocket we headed off to the next stands.
At the low tower I shot from a variety of distances, starting further back and progressing forwards until the clays became impossibly high- for me at least. When I got back to my original ‘peg’ Clive asked me if taking the shot felt different, and it did. I had become more aware of the time I had to move the gun before pulling the trigger and the urgency I felt to rush and take the shot decreased.
All previous stands paled in comparison to Jacksons Hole, a trap that spits clays out so high and at such a rapid pace it’s hard to even see one emerging from it let alone point a gun in its general direction. Clive assured me that he wasn’t joking and demonstrated. I had a few practice runs with the gun unloaded, before taking one shot. A few more practices on the high tower are definitely in order before I get the hang of this one- one attempt was enough to dispel any ego I’d developed from the previous stands.
I’ve come a long way in four lessons; the high tower alone is proof of that. At the start of my instruction I couldn’t imagine being prepared enough to head off to a formal shoot. But, four hours later here I am, gun in hand and lucky cartridge stored in the pocket of my new tweed coat ready to tackle this weekend’s main event.
I owe a huge thank you to Clive. Without his unrelenting patience and encouragement I wouldn’t be able to hit the pattern plate let alone a pheasant.
Wish me luck!