Shooting Gazette - - The great debate - By Ben Sa­muel­son

Iam a sin­gu­larly lucky man. I have an un­der­stand­ing wife, a job that has al­lowed me to drive other peo­ple’s ex­tremely ex­pen­sive cars as if I’d stolen them and I am sur­rounded by clever, funny and kind peo­ple who make me think, make me laugh and gen­tly put my ego back to­gether af­ter hav­ing dis­man­tled it. Yet one of the things I count my­self luck­i­est to have ex­pe­ri­enced is tak­ing my son shoot­ing at Christ­mas.

When the term ends and my boy comes home, he sleeps, he eats three times his own body­weight of his mother’s cook­ing, and we start look­ing for­ward to go­ing shoot­ing to­gether. This isn’t en­tirely true as he also dis­ap­pears for three days solid to reac­quaint him­self with his Xbox.

It’s easy to crack a cou­ple of mother-in-law jokes, say that guests are like fish and start smelling af­ter a few days and there­fore we should all dis­ap­pear at the first op­por­tu­nity to the next county for a spot of shoot­ing away from the fights over the re­mote con­trol. How­ever, it is, ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to do it with the wit, panache and sub­tle ref­er­ences to ob­scure works of Vic­to­rian lit­er­ary crit­i­cism that Mr Catch­pole will no doubt be demon­strat­ing across the page. But — and here’s the se­ri­ous bit — shoot­ing is and al­ways has been about fam­ily, and at Christ­mas above all oth­ers.

I took ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to go shoot­ing with my fa­ther, first as a beater and lat­terly as a fel­low Guns. A great many of the hap­pi­est mem­o­ries of my child­hood are of us half-freez­ing to death in var­i­ous Cam­bridgeshire fields wait­ing for the oc­ca­sional pheas­ant to hop over a hedge. Now, I can take my son along to half-freeze to death in var­i­ous Lan­cas­trian fields, with a few more pheas­ants around, many of which are fly­ing at con­sid­er­ably higher al­ti­tudes. The con­cept is the same, and is no less im­por­tant to me as I have come to re­alise it must have been to my fa­ther. I pray that, in 20 or so years, my son can take his own chil­dren to half-freeze to death wait­ing for some pheas­ants to hove into view.

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