a WORD from the ed­i­tor

Shooting Gazette - - Image from the field - A re­turn to shoot­ing af­ter an en­forced ab­sence is a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. By Martin Pud­difer.

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.

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