It started out simply as a get together and friendly shoot for site members, but that went out the window the moment I said that Monmouth rifle club would host the event and donate the range fees to Help for Heroes. No sooner was that said than I had a steady procession of site members beating their way to my door bearing gifts and prizes for “the cause”. From then on there was a secondary objective which was to achieve a reasonable return on these donations and to raise as much for H4H as was possible that would reflect the generosity of some of these donations.
The original plan was for the meet to be held in the summer when it would be possible for us to use the field adjoining the range as a car park and a site on which to erect a marquee. This changed when we had a number of cancellations at short notice from site members and it was decided to re-schedule the meet to the last day of the buck season, the 31st October. This was a great disappointment because a few of us had intended to camp locally and to make it more of a social event spread over the week end. None the less the meet was finally held last Sunday and the weather wasn’t too unkind to us, though two days of rain beforehand prevented us from using the field for parking and restricted the amount of outdoor space available for socialising.
Macberran a site member and “Boss Hog” a Monmouth club member arrived nice and early and proceeded to set up a hog roast which was much appreciated by all that tried their pork rolls. The rolls were baked early that morning by Mrs Macberran who got up at 3 a.m. to do so. The pig and all the rolls being donated by Macberran and his wife, so any monies taken was paid directly into the cause. What a marvellous effort on their part. The only problem as far as I am concerned is that my wife is now thinking of going on one of the bread making courses run by Mrs Macberran and somehow I don’t think the results will be quite as palatable.
We knew from the outset that due to the limited number of firing points it would take some time to get all the shooters through the range but we obviously misjudged how long some shooters would take to get their shots off. The planned ten minute details turned into more like a twenty minute details. The idea was that shots should be taken without delay as this was supposed to simulate a stalking situation. In reality we had a number of target shooters who weren’t used to being rushed and were unfamiliar with the roe target being used. They adjusted their shooting sticks and then adjusted them again until they were quite comfortable, and then they would adjust them one more time for luck before releasing their shot. At one point a comment was passed with regard to one shooter “If he doesn’t take the shot soon, bucks will be out of season it’s the first of November tomorrow”. I had said in the instructions to shooters “don’t take it too seriously and bring a sense of humour”’ that part of the instructions was read, just a pity they hadn’t read the part about without delay.
The hard concrete floor of the range also caused problems for a few with sticks refusing to take a grip on the floor and doing the splits just as you were about to take a shot, but it was the same for everyone, though on times the firing point did look more like a scout tent erecting competition with shooting sticks and poles pointing in every direction. Also permitted in the rules is the use of a day sack or shooting bag for support in the prone position, things that you might carry in the field. One shooter tried to interpret to include a Gladstone bag, not on your Nelly sunshine.
The targets used were the DJV roe targets which show a roe buck in a woodland setting. To the naked eye in an indoor range with reduced light levels it was impossible to pick out the buck from the background but through a riflescope the targets stood out fine, so quite realistic really. Scores weren’t great to start off with but maybe that was because some had travelled far and over very bumpy roads judging by the amount their scopes were off, or perhaps that was because they were under the gaze of the other waiting shooters. One .22 shot was found smack between the eyes of one target, obviously one of the boys down from the forest and used to night shooting, or perhaps we were in the company of the mysterious “licensed poacher” who shot The Emperor of Exmoor?
But to be fair our numbers had been swollen by guests using borrowed rifles and who were eager to take part and contribute, but who hadn’t shot since school. Eventually we got into a sort of slow but steady rhythm with a steady flow of shooters putting in some quite decent shooting and CSL (Alex) or as I had been calling him CSI (crime scene investigator – must put on my spectacles) shooting the first 100 straight. Now how the hell did he miss that stag in Scotland that I couldn’t see?
The good thing about this shoot was the friendly relaxed atmosphere with eagerness of all to meet and greet new friends, put names to faces and generally help each other out. I will post the results of the competition at a later date as it’s taken me two days to catch up and post this already.
Several people mentioned making this an annual event, but should we do that I think we will need to make a few changes. Firstly we will need to limit the numbers to SD members only if we use the same range. Next we will need to speed up the shooting perhaps by imposing a time limit of 10 minutes for the 10 rounds. But more importantly we need to develop the social side of it more. As one shooter pointed out stalking is a solitary thing and we need to get together more often.
But overall do I think the day was a success – a big emphatic yes!
I met a lot of very sincere genuine people who share a common interest with me. With their help we will have raised over £1,000 for H4H, which equates to over £3 for every round fired, now that’s no mean achievement.
Now let’s have your suggestions about what we should do to improve things for next year.