Friday, 24 April 2015

Just A Good Shooting Story

A story lifted from our good friends at The Shooting Wire.

Editor's Note: Several months ago, we told you a story that was set at the Fittleworth Rifle Club (actually the Mounteney Jephson Rifle Club in Fittleworth) in the United Kingdom. Fittleworth's John Gilbertson, shortly before his 90th birthday had put one of his regular drubbings on all the small-bore shooters. Not just at Fittleworth, but across the entire country. We struck up distant friendships through that story, and today, we're sharing another story from Fittleworth. Because of the concern over firearms ownership, we aren't using last names, but we thank Sean for allowing us to share the story of how shooting has restored hope for his dad. It's the kind of story many of us know, but few of us share. That's unfortunate, because it proves shooters are regular people- no matter how others try to demonize or marginalize us.

Yesterday I went clay shooting with my father. There's nothing unique in that I hear you say. But I'd disagree.

Just over twelve years ago, my father suffered a massive and near fatal heart attack, and whilst recovering from this trauma further complications ensued, double pneumonia, M.R.S.A, and finally a series of major strokes.

The strokes took the heaviest toll.

My father, for all of his life, an outdoorsman, had been hunting shooting or fishing right from a boy. The last stoke robbed him of his sight, leaving him initially totally blind.

He was in a really bad way, so much so, that he demanded that all his guns and rifles were got rid of, and that he would never shoot again. He was in a very dark place, and over the months that followed my mother nursed him back to health.

During this time the wonder that is the human body, slowly started to repair itself. Two years down the line he had regained a small amount of vision in his right eye, but his left eye was, at best, a blurred mass of light.

One day, about five years ago he asked about his gun collection, we told him that it was right where he had left it, and was just waiting for him to say the word and we could go shooting together again.

This was the first sign of interest, and in the ensuing years we gently dropped hints that maybe he could give his shooting another go.

About two months ago a family friend, put one of their friends in touch with Dad. This person was interested in shooting, had brought all he gear, gun included, but was not having any success.

He had been to over a dozen places and everyone had told him different things, and now he was totally confused.

Dad was hesitant to take it any further, being as how he was now registered as blind.

Mum and I pushed the matter, after all he been recommended by their friend, and he had been until his illness a good shot at clays and game, had taught clay shooting, both trap and skeet, at a local private school and had shot for a living.

In the end he caved in to the pressure, and said that he would try to help this person, provided that he was able to shoot and hit what he was aiming at; that's the deal!

So last Sunday, twelve years after his illness, aged 80 years old, my Dad picked up his shotgun and went clay shooting.

I walked with him to the first stand, right up until he got into the cage I could tell he was a little nervous. He placed two cartridges in the shotgun, raised the stock to meet the barrels, pulled the gun close into his body, assumed his distinctive shooting posture, and called pull. A small black disc came spinning straight toward him, about 20 yards out and 25 feet in the air. A loud report was heard and the disc broke into a dozen or more pieces. At the sound of the shot, another disc appeared from behind a hedge rising into the bright clear blue sky. This was on Dad's completely blind left side, he knew roughly were it was coming from, and after some searching managed to acquire sight of the target, which by now had climbed to around 60 feet and was about 10 yards in front, another report bellowed from his gun, and again the target broke into many pieces. The grin that appeared on his face was priceless, he was two for two. He broke the gun and continued to shoot the required targets for the stand.

Two hours later, with the course completed, we went back to the club house to see how well he had done.

His score for the round 19 ex 40, and as he said "not bad for an old blind guy." When we arrived Dad was a little apprehensive, not sure if he was still able to shoot. When we left I could see a side of him that I'd not seen for a long time, and already asking when we could go again.

It took a long time to get Dad back, but with patience and support, shooting truly is a sport for all regardless of age or infirmity.

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