Monday, 13 October 2014

Small Bore Rifles An Underground Sport

Chad is right its high time I told you another story or at least started writing again. So here's a tale from a little while ago, a few details have been changed, but not enough to disguise the facts from an inquisitive reader.

After myself and the Ex Mrs SBW called it a day I found myself with a whole lot more time on my hands. So I started looking around for something to do in the evenings other than internet dating and drinking with wannabe homesteaders.

I'd tried inner-city foraging; and freeganism, failed to join an archery club, renewed my distaste for the gym,  cut down on girlfriends and given up smoking. I'd been able to set up an air rifle range at home and its been a great help, HunterY had given me some very good pointers at HunterX's range in the country where I'd put 'two though one hole' and wanted to do it again, so the lure of the rifle range was wailing its siren call - which in case you're wondering sounds a lot like Kate Bush's 'Running up that hill' played by an orchestra of rifle bolts.

In accordance with that rule of the internet I found a sub broadband site which told the fascinating tale of a small bore rifle club not too far from mi casa. I pinged them an email and was invited to an open evening.  The venue turned out to be an industrial site entrance under a bridge.

You know those gated doors under bridges and beside train lines ? A galvanised gate over a concealed stairway, the kind of space where longterm contractors keep a giant collection of road-cones or use as an improvised tea-room. Where those of you with a fertile imagination would have seen a hidden base where Blofeld toys with world domination and bikini'd hoochie-coochies use Sebenza's to spoon caviar into the mouths of captured spooks. Or possibly where feral children gnaw on the bones of commuters unlucky enough to have tried to take a surreptitious doorway-piss on their way betwixt pub and station.

There were a growing number of of other loiterers at the doorway so I figured it must be the right place. I ignored Pretty Girl and struck up an conversation with Sales Newbie. Who predictably had just arrived in old london town fresh from uni, and was in the first few weeks of his first sales job. We do a quick round of the 'sales culture conversation' and move on to 'strange museums you've not heard of yet'. Pretty Girl eavesdrops, clearly dismayed that she's not been invited to be the centre of attention.

A man in an 'I work in IT' tie rocks up to open the gate [I'll leave you to imagine the full horror]; that tablet PC an almost borg-like extension of his being, the comedy tie stretched over the yawning chasm where his personality should have been. He's a helpful sort and welcomes us to the club. During his preamble I keep zoning-out and imaging life at his breakfast table where his wife keeps interrupting his impending announcement of his candidacy as the Lib-Dem candidate for Frinton-West with a further iteration of her long-held concern with the size of chunks in a jar of marmalade sent to her by cousins for whom she holds little affection.

Meanwhile back in the room: the chairman saunters in and sets out his stall. A veteran of many a committe meeting, in both professional and recreational settings, he tells us a potted history of the club: it's aims, affiliations, and traditions. Now warmed to his subject he tells us how to get the most from the tuition available and generously offers the observation how women will be especially able to benefit from the wisdom as 'they' are more able to listen and are in the habit of 'doing what they are told'. There is a slight shift in the room's gravity as Pretty Girl adds a mark to some inner scorecard.

The club specialises in a school of small bore (.22LR) shooting where the shot wears what looks like a straight jacket, opticians glasses and strange lopsided orthopaedic shoes. Lying on the floor the shooters squint though pin-hole sights at a page of targets 25m away. One chap seems tormented by some inner angst, huffing and puffing himself further and further from his 'settle'. At the other end of the performance curve a woman who'd arrived at the same time as us, is lying on the floor clacking ten rounds down range with an air of detached precision. As soon as the tenth hits the card she gets up and puts away her kit. I can't help but wonder if the place really is the gateway to some 007 facility.
As you do I get talking to a member who is packing away one of those tacticool Sig Sauer 22's he tells me its a scaled version of the Sig he uses in his anti-piracy work. Its all a bit 'conversations in gun shops', but he doesn't seem as strange as "the Bear'

We take a walking tour of the facility, sadly the little electric train driven by eurasian hotties in air hostess uniforms isn't working that week and the shark tank has been drained for maintenance. The guy who runs the 10m air pistol range is quite a wag, and has us all chortling away with a vivid description of the fiendish physics involved. If he'd been my teacher I'd be a physicist now. He invites us to have a go. Strangely; several people who are there, I can only assume, to join a gun club turn down his offer. The first fella to take up arms is on the paper but a way off the printed bit, I'm within the circle I console myself,  Pretty Girl is a finger off the centre. I tell her "It looks like you're the champion". Playfully she hits me and conspiratorially tells me "that's because I'm a woman and we do do what we're told'.

More soon, well sooner I hope