a WORD from the editor
Ihaven’t been able to get out shooting as much as I’d have liked since taking the editor’s chair last summer. A shoulder injury has not helped matters over the last nine months. Back in October I struggled to rotate my right shoulder (I shoot off my left) even half way around without my face crumpling in pain (I put it down to too many big hits during my rugby playing days) but with endurance weight training and plenty of slow dry gun mounts over the winter and early spring, I finally started feeling like I was returning to some sort of normality around March. I just had to keep telling myself that my injury woes would eventually subside and I’d soon get back to putting plenty of lead in the air with a brace or broken clays to show for my labour.
It was therefore with excitement and, I have to say, a little trepidation, that I headed south to Holland &
At times it was as though I’d never been away, as despite the odd mis-mount, I was connecting well.
Holland’s shooting ground in April for my comeback: the annual Editors’ Challenge. I wasn’t nervous about how well I would fare in front of my peers after such a long absence (we’ve all known each other long enough), I was just keen to get that first clay broken early and be reassured my shoulder wasn’t going to give me any problems during the first 10 minutes. I set myself a target for both my score and how long I could manage before I might have to put my hand up and be excused if my shoulder started to ache.
Holland & Holland’s senior instructor, Chris Bird, clocked me the moment I arrived and beckoned me over to the gunroom. I’d tipped him off about my injury and he sensibly suggested sidelining “Bertram”, my beloved Baikal 12 bore, for a 28 bore Beretta. Having never really shot with anything lighter than a 16 bore I was intrigued as to how I’d get on, and was pleased to discover my shoulder hardly felt a thing throughout the morning – not even during a devilishly designed ‘corkscrew’ stand or the furious flush which closed proceedings. I left the ground buzzing, not least because I had exceeded my target and also had a shoulder fit for the gym the following morning.
Something else happened during that morning’s shooting too: the speed with which I was able to find my rhythm again. At times it was as though I had never been away, as despite the odd mis-mount and not giving my clays enough lead, I was connecting well. If there is one thing I am determined to do with all my misses over the summer and coming season, it’s to miss in front.
I was back shooting again a few weeks later, this time as part of a Shooting Gazette team competing for the Schöffel Ptarmigan Trophy at a simulated day at West Wycombe Park. I selected a crack team to join Bertram and I, none other than scribe John Walker and snapper Chris Warren. I doubled the number of targets I wanted to powder, and reached it with a drive to spare. The highlight was smashing five straight on the grouse stand. I felt like I’d scored in the Cup Final when we were walking back to our vehicles. John and Chris were a real help to my confidence too, and we had a fantastic time.
There is now the Countryside Learning shoot to look forward to a few weeks after this issue goes to press. With the weather hopefully starting to get warmer, is there a better occasion to continue my warm up for next season? I will let you know how it goes. One thing is for sure, I have managed to forget all of the negative comments I used to make when I missed. I am tired of being my biggest critic. Now, when a target goes begging, I meet it with a shrung and a reminder that another one is on its way in a moment.