Shooting clay pigeons (and missing them)

DSC02832 cropIt’s Xmas 2014 and I’ve been invited to a corporate event: clay pigeon shooting and dinner courtesy of Milner Strategic Marketing @milnerltd. I’m ‘director’ of the Cambridge office, hence the invite. Unfortunately the law of inevitable coincidence kicks in and I must get back to Histon so will miss the dinner but the shoot gives me a chance to relive past glories.

I’ve been clay pigeon shooting 6 times; this will be my seventh.

Three of these, including the first, were corporate events with Colorcon @colorcon (www.colorcon.com) when I was Product Marketing Manager at Dow Chemical Europe in the 80s. Colorcon was our exclusive distributor for Methocel into the pharmaceutical market. They did rather well, enjoyed fat margins and could afford to pay for clay pigeon events.

Event number one was somewhere within a taxi ride of Manchester airport. The second was in Kent and was notable because we contrived to run out of petrol on the M1 afterwards. Fortunately we were rescued by a guy who appeared to drive up and down the motorway looking for people in distress. We were happy to give him a tenner for getting us moving again. The third was at Gleneagles which was a bit classy.

Colorcon always turned up in numbers but two guys dominated. Terry Blaney was the MD and Rolf Hoffert was Sales & Marketing Director. They were, I guess they still are, big guys. On ‘our side’ were myself and Ian Davenport. We probably conceded 30kg each!

The fourth was also a Dow event in the UK but this time with K&GGreef, our industrial distributor. Nothing quite so grand as the Colorcon events. This was a pop-up event in an open field with the shooting coach making arbitrary decisions about what was and was not a kill!

Number five was an FMC @fmccorp (www.fmc.com) corporate event when US CEO Bob Birt came to visit. The venue was Mottram Hall in Cheshire and I starred. Actually I think there was an error in the scoring but I got a prize: a couple of brandy glasses. I have the photo of the award ceremony to prove it.

The 6th occasion was a taster session somewhere in Befordshire to which Charles (number one son) and I went. That included rifle shooting along with clays and although I bombed at the former I did OK when it was time for the shot guns.

So how did it go this time? I reckoned I wouldn’t do too badly but who knows what the competition would be like.

It was a professional event deep in the heart of Suffolk. You drove down the A14 beyond Ipswich and just before you ran out of land you headed off north. Just north of Yoxford you get to @highlodgess, http://www.highlodge.co.uk and that’s where we shot.

Very professional. We had a good minder who briefed us well enough that we all did reasonably well. Some of our number were semi-professional but that didn’t seem to matter and the ringer amongst us, a rifle shooting half-blue came unstuck when we moved onto doubles. I didn’t do badly but then I realise we were shooting with cartridges with a fairly wide spread which meant that you could miss by quite a bit but still score a hit. However when you hit a clay dead centre you knew it and it felt good.

After a recount I scored 28 out of 40 to tie for first place and to be the winning male. I generally scored 4 out of 5, I had one 5 out of 5 but was disappointed that on two runs I only got 1 and 2 out of 5. However good enough to earn coffee cake with my tea and to imagine that next time I might do equally well.

So that’s now 7 times on about 30 years. Plenty of time for some improvement at number 8?

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One thought on “Shooting clay pigeons (and missing them)

  1. I just came across a post from you on a Google search for Rhona Dewar. It said you remembered her from 1st Form at Harwarden Grammar, but said you didn’t know what became of her.
    Like most of us, she eventually married and in time Moved to Weston-Supermare with. (ex) husband Peter Mackenzie who owned a secondhand book shop. They had two children, Kate and a brother whose name I sadly don’t recall. I say sadly, as he tragically died in a car crash aged only 18. Rhona qualified as a social worker for the deaf and blind and eventually moved back to her home country, Scotland. As far as I know she’s now living about as far north as one can get while still being on the mainland of the British Isles. She and her partner ran a pub on the north-east coast, but have now retired to a home they built not far from the pub and almost balanced on the very edge of Scotland. Like Rhona, I was an RAF brat based at the Air Force quarters on Manor Lane and attended a Catholic School in Flint. Rhona was my best friend, but due to tiranny of distance (I live in Australia), we haven’t kept in close touch. Do you also remember Julie Steed, or what became of her (she was in your class for a couple of years)? She was another one of our RAF gang. I must have met you at some stage as I recall your name clearly. When I next write to Rhona, probably for her birthday, which is in June, I’ll pass on the link I found. I wish you all the best for any upcoming elections. Cheers, Pip (aka Marilyn)

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