So today I was reminded of an occasion at Christmas in 2008. Amanda and I had travelled down to my parents farm for the holidays and as has occasionally been the tradition we did a spot of clay pigeon shooting.
When I was quite small we used to have a hand trap, like a short cricket bat that you placed a clay pigeon in and swung to launch. When my Dad first started teaching me to shoot he didn’t even use that, but tossed the clays by hand so I had a sporting chance of hitting them with the .410 I was using at the time.
Any way, later on my Dad went out and bought an actual spring powered trap that could throw the clay more than 30 yards, and this has served us well ever since. It is bolted to a pallet and we would usually load the pallet onto the fork lift of the tractor, surround it with hay bales and more pallets, then with the shotgun in the cab we would set off for which ever field had been chosen that year.
This year (2008) we (or maybe I) decided we should dig out the trap and that old collapsing box of clays and have a bit of a shoot. My friend Dave lives a short distance from my parents farm in the town of Henley-on-Thames, and he likes a shoot when he has the chance, so I invited him to join me. And so with my brother Robert and his wife Jasmine we made up the party. I met Dave when we were both members of the local Air Training Corps Squadron in Henley. Which is where I first shot .22LR rifles.
The advantage of the trap being attached to the pallet is that it can be manipulated to give a variety of different targets. We usually start off easy and then make it progressively harder as people get warmed up. Jasmine has not done much shooting so Robert was giving her a few tips. It was a fairly cold day as can be seen by the photos, but a fun time was had by all and some good pictures were taken, including an especially good set courtesy of Dave, which caught the full sequence of tracking the clay and breaking it. As shown below.
At the end of the day we returned to the house having put the trap away and while I thought I was being a good son, my Dad couldn’t understand why I had brought any ammunition back.
In a coincidental piece of timing my parents are selling the farm where I grew up (and this shoot took place) at the same time as I am organising my departure to the USA. As can be expected I have a great attachment to that land and I will miss it when it is sold.
The farm sits in the Stonor Valley in the Chilterns. Below is a view of the Stonor valley south of the farm. taken on that same holiday in 2008.