I’m having a little difficulty on how to start this blog as I know many of you will already be familiar with practical shooting and indeed take part in it competitively however I will try and write it for the benefit of people not familiar or indeed people completely in the dark about this wonderful discipline.
Now I love shooting sports and I would say I have been fortunate to experience many types of shooting at home or abroad for the stuff we can’t do and nothing has disappointed me and my experience with the guys at Recoil is no exception.
I was somewhat familiar with the concept of practical shooting a discipline that for me appeared to combine a lot of elements I would enjoy such as accuracy, speed, fitness and critical thinking. There can be a severe shortage of ranges in Scotland and Practical shooting was no exception….until Recoil!
So I duly attended my induction day at the range which is located close to the appropriately named town of Shotts, which is in the central belt of Scotland. This location itself is excellent as it is very accessible from many regions in Scotland and splits the difference in travelling.
Shooting is a sport that is often perceived by outsiders to be one of rich toffs or socially awkward people. This has never been my experience with every shoot or club I’ve attended generally being frequented by ordinary working class men and women. Again recoil was no exception, a lot of very friendly folks from all backgrounds who made me feel very welcome. I myself work within heavy industry so enjoy a good bit of banter and it was certainly on tap.
After signing in and confirming that everyone was aware of safety procedures and the additional regulations currently in place due to Covid, the members left to start their shoots whilst myself and two other inductees were given more information on what the day would entail by Chris who would be teaching us for the day.
As with any shoot safety is paramount, the UK shooting community does indeed have an excellent safety record especially within practical shooting which because of it’s dynamic nature is very rigorous with safety procedures.
The idea of practical shooting could be daunting for some shooters who are used to shooting from a stationary position at a stationary target, or perhaps clay shooting where you are stationary and shooting at a moving clay, even a walked up days rough shooting is fairly relaxed. Combining the elements of accuracy with speed but being aware of time penalties or possible disqualification from the whole days shooting for what on many shoots that lack the dynamic nature would not be an issue can be stressful, especially to newer shooters. Even a fairly experienced shooter like myself who was very “up for it” found it to be very different to what I have done before and I was very conscious that there was a lot to take in.
That said do not in anyway let yourself be daunted by any of these things. Chris the Range Officer who was taking us for our induction was fantastic. His patter was brilliant and he knew when to be light hearted, have a laugh and make things enjoyable without in anyway compromising or minimalizing the importance of safety and following the rules, but you also knew if you deliberately messed around or were in anyway a danger it would not be tolerated. Chris was clearly very knowledgeable about the subject and gave us all some information on the founder of practical shooting and the IPSC as well as coaching us in all the procedures and rules.
If a shooter was nervous, Chris put them at ease, if you weren’t quite getting something he explained it to you without making you feel like a cretin, Chris knew when to have a laugh and when to coach and I cannot emphasise enough how I good found it that there was no snobbery and a good dose of working mans/women’s banter, that just made the experience all the more enjoyable and helps you feel part of the club immediately. For many this I am sure will make the difference between people taking up shooting and from people walking away. If you are coming from inside the shooting community or outside I have no doubt you will be made to feel welcome and encouraged all the way.
So now onto the actual shooting. We were presented with two rows of 6 steel plate targets. The first shoot was simply to show we could perform the procedure for obtaining your shotgun from the rack, and follow instructions, shoot safely and return your shotgun to the rack safely.
There are three options you may have your shotgun in before commencing your shoot (remember you are against the clock)
Option 1- Shotgun magazine loaded, 1 in the chamber safety on, both hands on gun, resting at hip level.
Option 2- Shotgun magazine loaded, chamber empty, safety on or off, both hands on gun resting at hip level.
Option 3- Shotgun unloaded, safety on OR off, both hands on gun, resting at hip level
Now knocking down steel plates with a shotgun at 10 yards might seem easy however, when working against the clock, using the various options you can easily miss, or hear a “click” or the trigger not doing anything because you have tried shoot before taking the safety off or forgot to load into the chamber. These all add to the challenge. Although Chris did give us some tips the pros use and when a second might make the difference between first or second place they are very helpful!
We then progressed onto moving into various positions, starting from left to right, then forwards and backwards before doing what Chris called “round the called” which was basically moving into 4 positions 12, 3, 6 and 9 O’clock on command, to add to the challenge Chris might also should “FRONT” or “WEST” this was tremendous fun and it did help with listening to commands and trying to think on your feet.
We then went on to watch some of the members shoot and it is simply incredible how they combine all the elements to achieve some pretty impressive times. Compared to the fairly simple set up we were inducted on the courses were more involved and to see the guys doing so well on them showed what can be achieved with practice.
For many shooting is a sport to relax, or to put food on the table however if you prefer a dynamic aspect then I recommend you give practical a try and trying it at Recoil would be one of the best places to start. With lots of experienced instructors and members and a friendly environment and a passionate attitude towards shooting sports you could not go wrong.
This was something really different for me and whilst there may seem a lot to take in it is worth it for the enjoyment. I can see Recoil Scotland going places and expanding into other disciplines so get in early and get involved in what I think will very quickly be one of the leading shooting clubs in Scotland if not the UK. Help them grow and lets all introduce as many new shooters as we can to a positive and pro-active shooting experience.
If you are interested then please check the guys out on Facebook, get in touch and book your induction, you wont regret it. (The massive grin noted on my face at the end of the day is testament to this!)
Finally once again a huge thank you from myself to the team at Recoil for making me feel so welcome and I will be signing up!