BB1801 : The SHOOTboys

Thursday 4th January 2018

Who is the happy man?  Or should I say happy BOOTboy?

The Optimist or the Pessimist?

Our "Irish"* Christmas Event was intended to be clay pigeon shooting.

With the Met Office forecast having deteriorated to heavy rain throughout the morning, I phoned James to see if he thought we should let the pigeons survive for the time being and repair straight to the pub.  James hesitated, consulted several weather apps until he found one that disagreed and insisted it should be all systems go.

“I’m the eternal optimist,” he said.  “We BOOTboys are tough bastards.  If it rains we’ll have something to talk about.  The only way it will be abandoned is if there is 20 inches of snow or the River Winster rises by 60 feet."  

Well, I have to confess to being closer to the eternal pessimist.  After all, the pessimist is a happier person than the optimist.  That’s because if the pessimist is wrong, then things are better than expected so he is happy.  Whereas the optimist always has the potential for disappointment. Besides which, I had prepared a BOOTboys quiz for a bit of indoor fun in case we had to abort.

To be fair to me, James is a pilot so has access to weather forecasts not available to ordinary folk.  So, despite my Met Office forecast, James and I set off early to prepare for the shoot in a field in Underbarrow.  We didn’t get off to a good start. On entering the sodden field, James’ car immediately got stuck in the mud.  “Never mind,” said the optimist.  “The boys can push us out later.”  

It was drizzling somewhat as we struggled to erect the gazebo.  We were soon joined by Fred and his pals Ken, David & Brian who were to train and supervise us.

Bang on time (Bang? Not quite the right word as we hadn’t yet fired but better than "dead" on time) the BOOTboys arrived en-masse. James kindly provided nibbles plus a nerve-steadying nip (well, a three-quarters decent red wine actually), then after being given our safety briefing and shooting instructions (most of us were novices), off we set.  The optimist had been right. The weather had cleared.

Three at a time, we approached our shooting posts from which we each fired two shots at a flying clay.  I could go into the detail of how we rotated positions but I don’t think you need that information.  It just worked.

Having had their six shots, the trio would move on to the next position where they would fire six shots at a clay flying up and over them.

All this was then repeated so everyone had the opportunity to fire 24 shots.

It is a distrubing fact but I found that wounding the bird was more satisfying than an outright kill.  When you hit it off-centre, you see the clay split and with great satisfaction (amazement?) can watch the parts descend.  If you hit it dead centre, then it just vanishes.  Utterly disintegrates.  Gone without trace.  Nothing to watch with glee.  I hope that game shooters don't have the same experience.

Once everything had been packed up and the boys had dutifully pushed James’ car out of the mud, we walked up the road to the Black Labrador for prize-giving and what I imagine is the normal sort of after-shoot activity and I am sure you will imagine it similarly.

The best score was predictably by James but as he is a regular shooter he gracefully exempted himself from the prizes.  

Special mention must be made of Stuart who retired after the second round whilst in joint first place with James.

John and Ian tied for third place, Mike was second but, somewhat to our surprise and most of all to himself, only one clay behind James, the winner was complete novice Philip who, on that showing, has a new sporting world awaiting him.

So, BOOTboys 2018 did start with a Bang.  Literally.  We were all happy SHOOTboys. Optimists and Pessimists.

 Don, Thursday 4th January 2018

With thanks to James & Sam also Fred & his team for the use of their guns
and James for arranging the event and for providing the shelter and refreshments.
Oh, and the hats!

* Explanation: an "Irish" Christmas Event is one that takes place in January

Comitibus : Philip, Mike, Martin, Richard, Tony, James, Stuart,
Bryan, Terry, Ian, Don, Robin, Sam, John PL

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BB1801 : The SHOOTboys


Thursday 4th January 2018


Underbarrow Shoot

Number of Clays Hit


Success Rate:


Comitibus: Shooters



James, Mike, Ian, Martin, Terry, Stuart, Philip, John PL, Tony, Don, Richard, Graham

Bryan, Robin, Sam

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BOOTboys 2018

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