It’s fair to say that shooting runs in my family. My grandfather, Michael Rose, worked his way up the ranks of respected instructors, carving out a career speckled with famous faces, stunning landscapes and even royalty. The lineage doesn’t stop there though, my paternal grandfather, Peter Denny, who started as a gamekeeper – went on to train gun dogs professionally and run shoots in Suffolk, a tradition which has been passed down in my family. It is my father, though, who has had the most influence over my experience of the shooting world, now working as Director of Operations at the prestigious Holland & Holland Shooting Grounds.
Now 21 and fresh out of university I have decided it’s time to take up the mantle. I confess that I have shot before, though neither extensively nor frequently. I understand the lingo and the basics; you pick that up with a few years around a place like Holland & Holland, beyond that though, I’m a clean slate, an open book, and I’m hoping (enthusiastically) that genetics will play an obliging role on my journey from novice shot to clay-blasting extraordinaire.
“Clive’s relaxed approach made me feel comfortable not only with the gun but also the knowledge imparted.”
My first lesson was with Holland & Holland’s instructor Clive Jeffries; a man whose unrelenting patience really is to be commended. The session was about more than just hitting clays; we discussed many things, from safety and its importance to the dynamics of mounting and moving a gun. It was a little intimidating at times (guns are, honestly, quite terrifying to a beginner) and a lot of information to take in all at once, but Clive’s relaxed approach made me feel comfortable not only with the gun but also the knowledge imparted.
I was relieved to find that the weight and recoil of the gun was more than manageable throughout the hour. I was a little nervous heading out that my embarrassingly underdeveloped arm muscles would let me down or that I would batter my shoulder in the process. It wasn’t until I placed the gun on the table at the end, however, that I noticed a slight ache in my arms and shoulder, a sign that either it didn’t hurt or I was enjoying myself too much to care!
The hardest part of my lesson was undoubtedly learning that shooting at something isn’t always going to work. I’m a perfectionist, I like to be precise, and shooting where something is heading as opposed to where it currently is was incredibly hard to get my head around. It was frustrating and a challenge but every miss made me want to try again- I was hooked!
I enjoyed every aspect of the lesson and was disappointed to head back when the hour was up. There’s something extremely satisfying and addictive about smoking a clay, or hitting a clay, or clipping it at all really. Although I’m sure in my excitement that I’ve forgotten most of the basics already, I look forward to putting them into practice again- hopefully with a few more hits.
Until next time!