I was surprised to see a skeet layout tucked in between the stands and just outside the club house a Sport Trap layout. It was all very organised and everyone was extremely friendly - this was certainly a good little shoot for those alternative weekends!
When we had finished we sat and watched the Sport Trap over a cup of tea marvelling at the shooting skills and enjoying the sunshine and the countryside.
We planned to return in a fortnight we enjoyed it so much!
The next time we went we met some guys over breakfast and they asked if we wanted to go round with them. It was fun to shoot in a squad albeit a little embarrassing with my low scores but they were full of encouragement and I picked up a few tips along the way.
Shock / horror they changed all the targets!
We later found out that they vary it for every shoot Ah well I'll just have to get better at it lol.
Then I was told and I quote...
"Never worry about hitting targets, the best shooting is done in a focused but relaxed manner, some days the moon, stars and planets align and you hit loads, other days nothing works, consistency is the key to good scores and progression".
I was just about getting used to my new fabulous gun, then suddenly like everything else that was normal, the shooting stopped!
Life became very 'not' normal for everyone of course, we were among the lucky ones having the beach 100 metres away for walks, a garden for sitting... and are happy in each others company (which is a bonus because the old fella was furloughed and I work from home anyway )
All the news was grim, life became tricky, the sun came out.... of course I missed friends and family desperately.... but we couldn't go shooting!
So I now know what I should have been doing with my time but strangely with all that was going on, the weeks passed so quickly, it slipped my mind completely.
We studied the news and trawled through the Facebook pages then finally the news came, Headley Clay Pigeon were setting up their ground for social distancing!
English Sporting only - One way systems - distance marking - manned traps - no refreshments - strict in-shoot-out but all was good and we couldn't wait!
So if you didn't know, Headley usually has a training area, Compaq shooting and DTL in addition to 9 sporting stands. All the stands are basically in a long line stretching quite a distance, the car park is down one end. The plan was to close the Compaq, training and DTL making these additional sporting stands and increasing the standard round to 100 clays so everybody would filter through stand by stand.
When we arrived we were so keen, we were second in the queue. What we didn't realise is that they were going to filter us down the stands so all the stands were filled and ready to go at 10am. This meant a quick hike up to stand 11 of 12!! OMG! I was breathless by the time we got there - I was such a 'lockdown' couch potato... eeek!
Thoroughly enjoyed shooting stands 11 & 12 ... then a hike back all the way through the carpark to stand 1 to do the same thing again up to stand 10 followed by another hike back to the carpark. All the time of course we were being chased by everyone behind us with no chance of a break at all lol.
Phil and the team had really put some great work in over the lockdown to ensure everyones safety - new signage everywhere, fences and barriers, 2m markers (hula hoops on the ground ) even the entrance and exit to the carpark was one way!
Anyway, apart from my legs nearly dropping off, the thing I should have remembered during lockdown was practicing mounting my gun. She felt like she weighed a ton, it was a struggle getting her up in my shoulder by stand 3 and considering I still mount gun-up, this only added to my woes
Don't get me wrong - the Headley team did a great job reorganising the ground so we could shoot and we enjoyed every minute!
The real suffering came the next day when I could barely move a muscle lol.
On reflection, perhaps 100 clays straight with no tea breaks or pauses after so many weeks of nothing may have been a bit optimistic. Chilling in the garden we thought maybe next time out we would take the side by sides (a bit lighter and a bit of fun as well)
While sitting in the garden in the blazing sunshine we got them out for an airing and a bit of hefting to see what we thought.
I'd not noticed before but now I was 'super weak' I was struggling to open the gun after firing with the snap caps. Pete tried a few times and agreed it seemed very stiff so we decided it needed a little 'look at'. No chance of long distance travel up to Greenwoods in Shropshire with the current lockdown rules so we needed an alternative. Northall CPC (somewhere we had been meaning to pay a visit) had a resident gunsmith Tony Sorrell who also spent every other Sunday down at Mill Farm where we had shot a few times, so after a bit of research, found they too were opening. We contacted them and arranged to pay Tony a visit.
Just as a side note we saw at least 4 of these sun coronas / halos during the lockdown period while we were in our garden - very wierd since they are condsidered rare and I'd never seen one before!
Off we went to visit Tony with my little side by side.
On our arrival we were impressed with all the roses that lined the footpaths - there was a shoot going on but in the current situation it was pre-book only . There is a gun shop and also a very nice clubhouse recently renovated - during lockdown I believe. They had added new pathways and signage around the ground and one-way signs everywhere.
We found Tony in his little workshop and he agreed that the spring was tight - I wasn't just being a weak girlie lol. He agreed to have a look at it.
We knew we had to come back to collect the gun on completion so when we got the call we decided it would be a nice idea to have a round there and make the most of the trip.
We managed to book up a round of 70 (a bit easier on the arms... so we took the Brownings)
On arrival we collected the little side by side which was loads better - thank you Tony
It was a fabulous hot sunny day, we made our way into the clubhouse via the one-way system. The staff were friendly and welcoming but sadly the kitchen was closed (as we expected) They operate the promatic system, the same as Southdown and pre-charged a card for us. We had to start on stand 5 to fit in with the social distancing so off we went.
The whole ground is well manicured, pretty with the flowers and easy to navigate, the targets very varied. I surprised myself on some stands and completely flopped on others - as did Pete but it's never the same ones lol.
After we had finished we made our way along to look at the skeet / Automatc Ball Trap layout shown in the picture above, sat on a bench watching in the sun with a bottle of drink to cool down.
We were very impressed with the whole setup, easy to get to, easy to find and a nice place to be - I'm sure will be visiting again soon.
East Grinstead Sussex
Tunbridge Wells Kent
Northall Clay Pigeon Club
Fletching, East Sussex
Clay Pigeon Shooting Association
Findon, West Sussex
Mill Farm, Hankham Hall Road
Fletching, East Sussex
off Pearsons Green Road
Paddock Wood, Brenchley
Kent, TN12 7DG
Markyate St Albans
Offering private 1:1 or group shooting lessons in Sussex
Offering essential and advanced basic training and 1:1 instruction in Surrey