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Have you ever shot before?

Well now the answer would be "yes", but on Saturday it was rather a nervous "no". I went to Bisley to the National Rifle Association (NRA) open day - let me explain...

Last year I went to a Game Fair and was asked if I'd like to try and shoot. My answer was "yes" - after all I'd shot an air-rifle before and although I didn't always break it myself, Ameba had recently shown me how to aim through the sights - so, it could be fun? Well the next question was "do you want to shoot competition or fun?" My answer was ('bravely') "I'll do whatever you do". So we were given our target sheets and six shots (one for practise, the rest for the five targets). I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had to sneak constant peaks to familiarise myself (how to get the sheet of paper onto the thing that you then wind back?) I basically said to myself 'make sure you hit the piece of paper - it would be very embarrassing if you hit the metal at the back'.

I aimed, took my time and shot. And at the end of my first round one of the guys who worked there came up to me and told me I should get my sheet marked - anything over 40 got a medal. That day of the seven medals that were won, two were mine. I was also the only woman to win one. This inspired me.

So back to Bisley... With the help of the Sat-Nav lady I was guided to the NRA gates. From there the camo'ed cadets took over, showed me where to park and directed me to the registration desk. I collected my bits and having decided to adopt the strategy of complete honesty, making sure to reiterate how little I know, ambled down to the biggest range - with the most on offer.

Having no idea what to do next I decided to just stand in a queue. It wasn't like I had a preference - I was just a virgin shot in a pink t-shirt, with an inappropriate handbag.

I was so nervous that while chatting to a very friendly woman, who was imparting great knowledge to me, I suddenly realised that my glasses weren't on my head. In a panic I tried to decide if I should forget about them and rather listen to what she had to say, or stop her and look for my beloved sunnies. I stopped her, the need to find them was too great. "I've lost my glasses" I burst out, while patting the top of my head and desperately looking around to see if they'd fallen nearby. I repeated the head-patting and continued with the fractious glances until she asked me if I was looking for the glasses that I was wearing!

It so happened that the first gun I was to try was a full-bore, open sighted target rifle. And WOW! what fun. If I'm honest I expected the kick-back to be worse than it was, so when my shoulder wasn't dislocated and I was told that my aim was definitely not something to be shy about, I relaxed and had fun. And what a thrill - lining up the target, really seeing it and then squeezing the trigger. A bit like a bad golfer, I had to be reminded to keep my head down, the excitement of finding out where I'd shot sometimes got a bit much for me.

After the full-bore target rifles I headed to my right to try out the next high calibre rifle. This rifle had a scope thing, so technically should have been easier, but I didn't like the sight. I didn't do badly, but didn't go back.

Following a brief stint playing at Maid Marion with a bow and quiver full of arrows, I headed back down to the big range to try out the DA10. It's the kind of gun the US police use to sniper the bad guys - and it's awesome!

It's so 'intelligent' that if you shake it, it stops working. If you don't smoothly and with determined force manually reload it and if you play about with the trigger it also stops working - cause it thinks a bad guy is trying to steal it from you. It shoots accurately to 1200 yards. On Saturday we were shooting 300 yards, making it hard not to hit the bulls-eye! This rifle is flippin' cool, a serious machine! But it's almost too easy... So I went back to the target rifles.

I like the prone position, I liked the way the sights looked and I like that it's not too easy. So with a couple of empty shell cases (my bulls-eyes) in my bag I headed home - full bore, open sighted target rifles I'll be seeing you soon!



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