Tuesday, 12 July 2011

pigeons and rabbits

After living out of a suitcase for periods of time in May and June, we have decided that July is the month to be sociable, have days out and enjoy new experiences.  

While Steve watched cricket on Saturday, I met up with former colleagues from my time at the City Council for a drink or two in Oxford.  Very pleasant and enjoyable it was too, picking up where I last left off with some of them, nearly a decade ago.  

There's more socializing on the agenda this weekend, including a face-to-face meeting with people we have only communicated with electronically up to now.  More of that in a future blog!

Today was the day for a new experience.  Well, nearly new. The last time either of us had picked up anything resembling a gun was back in our Lazer Quest days, when we used to run around a stage set in the dark as "Scarecrow" and "LA", surrounded by the electronic beep beep beep of someone (or ourselves) being hit by a shaft of green light. Prior to that, Steve had tried his hand at the fairground rifle range and played with an air rifle as a boy, and I used to play with Jack's pop gun, which made a great sound as the cork popped out of the barrel attached to a bit of string.  All great fun, but nothing to prepare us for today when we had our first shooting lesson, a birthday present for Steve courtesy of Jon and Sally.

It has taken us a while to get round to booking it.  In truth, I think we were both scared of looking like complete idiots in public (no hiding in the dark behind the props like I used to do in Lazer Quest....) I admit I did not feel comfortable about shooting with a real gun - too many nasty associations. However, we finally plucked up courage and went this afternoon.

Steve was more at ease than me as we were taken to the gun room, given our rifles - a 12 bore for me and a 20 bore for Steve - shown how to stand, hold the gun and instructions on how to hit a moving target, in particular staying focussed on the clay rather than squinting at the end of the barrel. Then, kitted out with caps, protective glasses and earplugs, we headed off to the shooting ground to see what happened when we tried to put what we had learnt into practice. 

At the first stand, the clay simulated a bird emerging from the trees in the middle distance and flying towards us in an arc, going over our heads. To our delight, after much practice and a bit of luck we both managed to hit two clays.  

At the next stand, the clay simulated a rabbit running across the ground left to right, before disappearing into the bushes. I thought this might be a bit easier as you could see the hole from which the clay would emerge, but the uneven ground made it bounce unpredictably. Not so easy after all....But good fun nevertheless!  I even managed to do better than Steve on this stand.

The hour seemed to fly by. The patience, advice and support of the instructor was second to none.  However, it's surprising how tiring it can be to hold up a rifle against your cheek repeatedly for long periods of time when you are not used to it!  Not to mention staying focussed on the trajectory of a small orange object as it crosses your field of vision.  

Neither of us feel the need to practice on real pigeons and rabbits, but it was a great feeling to hit a clay one!  

So, another new experience under the belt and more to look forward to in the next few weeks in between more socializing and days out. Life is good!

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