Throck ‘n’ roll
Join the club! says reader, Andrew Collins, and goes on explain the advantages at his own, Throckmorton Shooting
I’ve been passionate about shooting since I was 14 - I’m now 76. In those days, it was 7s 6d (37½p) for a licence from the post office and 15 shillings (75p) for a box of 25 Eley Grand Prix cartridges. Sadly, a road traffic accident at the age of 21 put the shooting on hold and me in hospital for two years, and minus one leg and my right eye, but I did gain the staff nurse on the ward as my wife.
After several years convalescing and rebuilding my life, I returned to the sport and taught myself to shoot left-handed. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Strutting about on a tin leg, and latterly on crutches as osteoarthritis set in, I was able to shoot on equal terms with my colleagues, and I would like to think that I became quite competitive.
In the last couple of years, things went downhill and I was unable to lift the gun, and this coincided with some pretty hefty surgery which left me with the plumbing on the outside, but my gun club didn’t let me drift into a corner. They persuaded me to try air rifle shooting on an FT/HFT course that was newly introduced. What a surprise! I had always felt that air rifle shooting was the precurser to real shooting, but how wrong can you be! The opposite is true. Apart from missing the big bang, the technicality between the two is like comparing chess to draughts. The mil dots, hold-over, hold-under, windage, fall off, and so on, were terms I had never considered, and the enthusiasm of the other members was infectious.
Back to the obstacles. I was by now totally wheelchair-bound and had to consider how to get around the course. Fortunately, Alan, our
“what do you need to enjoy this wonderful and affordable sport? Let’s start with the obvious”
club owner, had set it out to be totally accessible, and with an off-road mobility scooter I was able to transfer from chair to chair, and with the help of a swivel seat, a lightweight, carbon-fibre, photographic tripod with a suitable head, plus an ever-helpful wife to lift the gun into place, away we went. No, I can’t adopt the recognised shooting positions: i.e. lying down, sitting and standing, but who cares. I make up the rules as I go along, safety is paramount, and no one is inconvenienced.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
So what do you need to enjoy this wonderful and affordable sport? Let’s start with the obvious – you need a gun. I have no strength to cock a springer, so I chose a pre-charged pneumatic (four, in fact) plus a good-quality scope. Ask around, try a few. I was given valuable advice by experienced members about what was most suitable.
You also need somewhere to use it. Plinking in the garden, if it’s big enough, with tin cans is all very well, but neighbours can get anxious with guns around, and should a pellet ever cross into their territory, you are in serious trouble. The best way is to find an air rifle shooting club where you will not only enjoy mixing with like-minded people, but also have the facility to shoot in a professionally set up environment. The club I belong to is run by a team of people headed by Alan and Sandy Bewley, who do everything possible to make us feel at home.
The club caters for airguns and clay-pigeon shooting, and is set in a beautiful woodland area. Airguns are catered for every other Sunday throughout the year, and during the summer months is open on a Wednesday afternoon until early evening. The charge: £5.00 per day on Sundays and £3.00 for the Wednesday plinking range. Filling facilities and refreshments are available (Sundays) and the bacon butties are something to write home about.
LOADS OF LANES
There are 30 lanes designed for FT/HFT shooting, and 15 are set up each Sunday.The layout is designed to be ‘loosely’ HFT rules, and is run as a friendly competition. The set-up team work hard to organise varied set of targets to meet all shooter levels; some peeping from behind tyres, some up in the trees and others up to 50 yards. distant. Believe me, it can be quite challenging. The paths are laid down with chip bark, and the shooting points are kept dry with more of it, so the layout is easily accessible for wheelchair competitors
It is exciting to see so many youngsters coming along with their dads and mums, and Alan has a variety of guns available, plus the expertise to introduce shooting under qualified supervision.
A GREAT EXPERIENCE
This has been a real experience for me. I honestly thought my shooting days were over, but they have only just begun. Thanks to a lot of encouragement and help from a devoted wife, a fabulous club where everything is done to allow equal opportunities for all, and a wonderful set of ‘guys and gals’ who see you as a person to compete with – despite being a little bit different, my life is full. May it go on for a long time yet, and I would encourage anyone who is disabled to go along to a club or shooting range and give it a go. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
You could start by coming to see us at Throckmorton Shooting in the Vale of Evesham. Give Alan or Sandy Bewley a call on 07889 469285 or look up their website for more details. www. throckmortonshootground.co.uk and be prepared for a warm welcome. I
Below: Andrew and his ‘ever-helpful’ wife, Ruth, enjoy the superb layout at Throckmorton. Above: Dawn over Throckmorton. Facilities like this could also be the dawn of a whole new shooting life for disabled people.
Left: No shortage of variety and challenge, here! Below: The friendly members of Throcky make full use of the zeroing range.
Left: Wheel-power and determination! Andrew has plenty of both.
Above: The bacon butties make for fine dining at Throckmorton ranges.
Above: When you have settings like this, an interesting course is guaranteed.