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We take a tongue-in-cheek look at a few of the stereotypes you might encounter at your local clay ground
Be warned: the following contains generalisations and stereotypes. If you take yourself too seriously, do not read this!
The gun changer
Every club or ground has at least one of these friends of the gun trade, who are always looking for that magical gun that will see their scores leap upwards. Few manage to hold on to any gun for longer than six months and will usually point out that they sold it because the barrels were too long/short/heavy or the stock was too low/high/short or that the forcing cones weren’t quite long enough to throw the best patterns.
This often produces a wry smile amongst those listening, who can clearly remember that when this person bought the gun they proclaimed that it had the perfect length barrels, a stock that fitted like a glove and barrels that produced patterns so dense that an anorexic gnat couldn’t have fit in the gaps between the shot.
Swappers are easily identified from a nervous twitch they develop when reading gun lists, the wear marks on their credit card from overuse and their own private parking space at every gun shop within 50 miles…
Most of us are careful to watch the pennies but there are a few who will go to great lengths to avoid ‘wasting’ money. Whether it’s driving 150 miles to buy cartridges that are £5 a thousand less than their local shop or recycling their old underwear as gun cleaning cloths, they bemoan the passing of the good old days when you could shoot all day long for the price of a ferret’s lunch. Easily identified from their +£10k guns and new car.
Usually weighed down with a kit bag containing five sets of chokes, these shooters tend to have overdeveloped manual dexterity in their fingers combined with a bad case of repetitive strain injury from their constant tube swapping. They used to be indecisive but now they’re not sure; often the sort of person who stands staring at the menu board in their local fish and chip shop for ten minutes then asks for cod and chips. They are usually desperate to ask what chokes you have in if you shot a particular stand well, and equally happy to share their choke choice wisdom very loudly with everyone within thirty yards if they have cleaned up.
Most of us can get a tad annoyed with ourselves but there are those who become apoplectic when the wheels fall off. Cartridges fired and unfired fly in all directions as their rage ensures that their scores go through the floor faster than Jimmy Savile’s popularity. Their guns could do with being rubber-coated to help them bounce when thrown into the nearest hedge, while their cars tend to have badly worn tyres and pebble-dashed paintwork from all that wheel spinning out of the car park in disgust at the end of a shoot.
These technocrats have read every single snippet of shooting related material ever published and spend much of their lives retelling it to anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves cornered by them. Not only can they tell you the average score for a certain stand on the ground over the last five years, but they also profess to an in-depth knowledge of metallurgy, engineering, stock making, coaching, course design and any other aspect of clay shooting. A firm believer in the phrase ‘Why use one word when a thousand will do?’ they only shoot occasionally, and the only things they are likely to clear are their breakfast plate and the clubhouse of shooters.
These frustrated wannabe coaches usually pick the worst possible moment to chime in with the likes of “You’re behind it,” more often than not when you have actually just missed in front; listen to them at your peril. A good tactic to use on these well-intentioned though biblically misguided souls is to point them in the direction of a top shot with the words “That chap over there was asking if anyone could give them some pointers.” At this point you should pull up a seat, get comfortable and enjoy the show…
Thankfully an increasingly rare breed these days, on clay grounds at least, these less-than-welcome visitors seem to think that they and all those around them are blessed with nine lives. They mistakenly assume that swinging closed guns around as if they are conducting an orchestra will win them friends and if challenged as to their habits will often indignantly retort, “Well I haven’t killed anyone yet!” Which is surprising, considering how hard they appear to be trying. If you come across one of these disasters in waiting you should stand well back – preferably several miles back…
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