Wise words from a wise head!
Last weekend, as part of my work’s Christmas party, hubby and I headed to the Augusta Gun Club to try our hand at Clay Target Shooting. I don’t know about you, but I’ve only ever held a gun once in my life. It was an air-rifle and if I wasn’t ten, I must have been eleven or twelve. We were on a farm with some friends and we were pinging at silver-eye birds that had been demolishing fruit in a fig tree.
I remember being handed this air-rifle and told how to use it. How carefully I lined it up, how very excited I was… how much I concentrated on hitting that target. Squeezing the trigger and hearing that noise… then watching a poor little bird flap and flop from the branches and land on the ground hopping and hurt. I’d winged it you see, and the boys who were with us had to grab the bird and put it out of its misery. I felt like the world’s biggest heel that day, and I’ve never touched a gun since.
Fast forward about 30 years. This time I’m holding a real gun. A proper one. And the first thing I’ll say is: it was bloody heavy! We were shown how to load it, how to hold it, how to shoot and how to eject the cartridge, and how to do all this safely. I really only remember the one warning: “if you squeeze the trigger now there’s a bullet in it, it will go bang.”
A little bit about the Augusta Golf Club… it’s like shooting off the edge of the world. The gun club is high up on the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge, overlooking the Blackwood River to the town of Augusta far below. You can see the valley, river and sea and on a clear day, they tell me you can see all the way to Black Point. Saturday afternoon wasn’t clear, in fact, it was hazy and smokey, and someone said it was from smoke blowing across from the dreadful bushfires that plagued Esperance last week.
Now – a little bit of bookish segue here: In my book His Brand Of Beautiful, there’s a scene in the outback where the hero and heroine have a ‘shoot out’ – shooting at rock targets on the branch of a tree. When I wrote that scene, I used Google, and Youtube for shooting research. Christina Clay (the heroine in that book) is a crack shot – having shot clay targets with her father for years… and she beats Tate (the hero) and wins the bet they make. Like many a good romance, the scene ends with a firecracker kiss and a bit of groping by an outback river bed… :) I wish I could go back and write the scene now. I’d have a much better idea of the weight of the gun and how the gun felt in my hand, the noise/kickback/recoil… you should see the bruise on my arm!
Not that we’re competitive or anything (cough) but hubs and I lined up in the first three people to try our hand. We all got a bit of expert coaching, and up we stepped. I can’t describe how completely alien that gun felt in my hands. I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do with it. I had 10 real bullets in the pocket of the vest they gave me – and those were heavy and alien too, like having a pouch of 50c pieces or a bag of marbles (or both) in your pocket.
We had to shout ‘pull’ when we were ready. I think two or three of the clay discs flew out before I got it together enough to actually try and shoot one. The first time I squeezed the trigger and the gun went ‘bang’, I squealed so loud another two or three targets shot out because of the noise.
The three of us each had ten bullets, and I think it’s fair to say that the odds of getting through unscathed were very, VERY good for the thirty flying clay ‘pigeons’. I have no idea how close any of us were to actually hitting one. Spectators would comment that we were left of the target, or above or under it, or close, or not close at all. I had no idea.
BUT! I was the first to actually hit one. I didn’t smash it in the middle and obliterate it like some of the others did later. I winged it. But it was a hit all the same… and (not that we’re competitive or anything) but, my hubby didn’t hit one!
For the record, later hubs and I had another 5 bullets each. I didn’t hit anything else but he did, if not 1, then 2. But that doesn’t matter, does it… I hit it first!
Thanks Mark Murray for the expert lessons and for lending us your guns, and for the idea to try clay target shooting for our Christmas party in the first place. It was a whole lot of fun.
p.s. Dear work colleagues, if I can’t type this week because of my bruise, can I have the week off?