Shane's Outback Adventure
About 4 months ago I took a trip out to my local rifle club in Clermont Queensland Australia, to have a go at Australian F Standard. Having never shot a gun in my life I just thought it might be something I'd enjoy. After shooting the club gun and talking to the half dozen members, all of whom were great people, I was hooked and decided this was the sport for me. So at 45 years of age off I went acquired my gun licence and bought myself a Savage 12 FTR, as my starting point.
In the 3 months leading up to my first competition I was taken under the wings of a great couple of people named Len and Carole Solomon, giving me advice on technique, helping me do load development and letting me use there equipment to reload, and along with them and our club captain Jan Thornhill, and the other members of our small country club, given plenty of advice and really pushed along to learn as much as possible, making me learn to read wind and weather, giving me little tips and encouragement every Sunday morning at our shoots.
So finally the weekend of the 9th / 10th of May arrives and it's our Annual Open Prize Meet, I'd been starting to feel nervous a couple of days prior but on arriving at our club house to see 40 complete strangers there I can tell you I was nervous as hell. We had 6 ranges to shoot over 2 days, 400, 500, 2x600 and 2x800 metres.
After signing on and heading down to the range it was finally time to get started, now remember id only been shooting once a week for the last few months, I knew no one apart from the 6 members of our club that were participating, and found myself totally mesmerised, and slightly overwhelmed.
I'd never had to shoot with 8 people on the range at the same time, with 4 shooting. Our Sunday shoots are 1 shooter at a time.
So finally it's my turn to shoot, I take my gear up to the mound and my hands are literally shaking, set my gear up and take up my position. Feeling like everyone is watching and judging me, I am way to tight can't relax and shoot a 47/60.
Taking my gear back off the range I feel like I am not good enough to be here. Len wanders over and offers me some advice and words of encouragement as do all the others from our club and surprisingly, other shooters people I've never met in my life are full of kind words and advice.
Out to 500 we go and I'm still feeling the odd one out, thoughts like I'm not good enough, my gears not as good as there's, what am I doing here etc etc rolling around my head. I shoot the same score at 500 47/60, found myself being quite jerky on the trigger, not breathing properly etc etc, last range of the day Is 2x600, and I say to myself, ok these guys n girls aren't that scary everyone's friendly full of advice and I really don't think they are judging or looking down on me. Trying to relax and pretend it's just a normal Sunday shoot, I go set up feeling a little bit better than I had previously, I try to block out the other 7 shooters on the mound, the voices of scorers, check scorers, all the other people watching and concentrate on my own procedure. After my 2 sighters I felt ok and off I went to shoot 49/60. That's ok it's an improvement, I've got another go, and my second detail was 55.1/60. The praise I got from everyone there was a little overwhelming but made me realise ok I'm not the best shooter here (my whole shooting experience is less than 3 months) I don't have the best gear, but I can still have fun.
The following day we had 2x800 metre ranges, the weather had picked up a bit and the mirage was doing all sorts of weird and crazy stuff. 53.1/60 my first detail and 48/60 2nd detail after I didn't pick the mirage to well. But all the other competitors were keen to praise me and tell me not to give up, for someone with my experience I'd done really well. As was proved at the presentation ceremony, when I came first out of all the shooters who had never entered a completion before.
In conclusion I can honestly say that this sport is amazing, it pushes you to better yourself every time you participate, and it's members no matter where they come from are extremely giving, in praise and advice.
I would highly recommend anyone interested, head out to your local club and give it a go. I had never shot a gun in my life, before joining Clermont Rifle Club, but I'm well and truely hooked now and looking forward to years to come of great shooting, great friends, many more competitions and maybe just maybe winning one or two in my time...
Clermont Queensland, Australia