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A possible isn’t good enough – Writer-insighter

A possible isn’t good enough

When I was a boy I used to shoot at the local rifle club every Thursday. I tried, but I wasn’t much good. I couldn’t see very well, the light was appallingly bad with a lot of glare, we had to lie on kapok mats impregnated with sweat every Thursday since the Boar War, which since you ask was a lot of Thursdays, thanks. I got eczema on my fingers from the lubricant on the bullets and the dust and fumes in that unventilated underground range made my chest feel funny most of the next day.

I shot around 94/100, usually. I was just about good enough to go to Bisley when I was fifteen, and I qualified as an adult marksman, so I can’t have been that bad, but shooting is always about being better.

This was last Friday’s target. Where I live, I’m lucky enough to have a range literally within walking distance, so after work, I put my best gun in its bag, grabbed my shooting bag with its ear defenders and sighting target and a screwdriver just in case, and walked down the hill, along the lane, and across the little bridge over the headwaters of the Deben to the old range. Maybe it started off as a quarry, I don’t know, but I do know that during the war, it was used by the tanks stationed at Glemham Hall to sight in their machine guns, trundling and squeaking and clanking their way down what’s still called Tank Road. It accounts for the sign that’s on the bridge now, saying “No Track Laying Vehicles. The local Home Guard used it for practising when they weren’t doing that.

The Hostile Coast

About a decade ago the local airfield opened the first and so far as I know the only museum to the Auxiliary Home Guard, the real suicide squad, whose job in case of invasion was to go to ground for two weeks and then slaughter as many Germans as they could, along with a select list of people who might be useful to an invading Nazi force. We’re not even ten miles from Shingle Street. This was a hostile coast.

Back in the now, though, or anyway, last Friday, I shot my first ever possible. It was with my lovely HW 77, not the 97 I wrote on the target, the first gun I ever bought new last September. First time out I shot a ten-shot group in 11mm, something I’ve never been able to do since. That’s why my possible 100 out of 100 wasn’t good enough.

As you can see from the picture, the hole at the top right was a snatched shot where I jerked the trigger. It cut the line between the nine and the ten, so it counts as a ten, but that’s not the problem—although obviously, it’s one of them. The big problem is the size of the group—twenty-two millimetres.

It’s not showing off. Ok, it’s a possible. Ok, it’s 100 out of 100. And yes, I was using a rest, thanks. It’s the size of the group. It’s double the spread of the first group I ever shot with this rifle. And I don’t know why. It’s almost as if it’s my shooting that’s at fault, and that can’t be right.

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Carl Bennett

Not born in a cross-fire hurricane because there is no such thing. Actually Stratford on Avon general hospital, since when Dorset, Wiltshire, compulsory London and currently Suffolk.

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