Chapter 17. The real thing.


- Tony

My fifteenth year was probably the zenith of my young shooting career. The airguns were now only used for fun in the garden. Pete's older brother Brian was working and had joined the Territorial Army. He was the one we now looked up to as one who shot real guns. After our experience of discipline at Tring rifle club, none of us was tempted to join the Terriers but we would dearly have liked to have a go with those .303's

Brian had pulled his Dad's old Rudge motorbike out and got it going. He removed the sidecar body and built a large coffin like box on the sidecar chassis for camping equipment. With his brother Pete on the pillion and up to four of us tucked into the box we would go fishing and shooting all over the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside. By this time we all had 12bores. Brian had a Canadian Cooey full choke single that could reach out to some remarkably long distances. I had a tired old English double hammer gun that I polished and handled with great reverence. We only shot things we could eat, mainly rabbits and pigeons with a few partridges and the occasional duck or pheasant. Our one digression from this rule was to take the little .410s down to the canal tow path some evenings and having a go at the bats. We had hours of difficult fast shooting at those unpredictable fluttering targets and hit very few. Out of a couple of boxes of cartridges only one or two bats would plummet down into the canal shattering its mirror, calm reflection.

Alan, always one for the biggest firepower, bought a Winchester pump gun.

Alans Winchester pump

This he would start emptying at a flying pigeon hitting it a number of times until its remains finally fluttered down to earth. We complained bitterly at these stunts as it frightened everything in the vicinity.

Woody wore one of the fashionable Robin Hood hats

Raymond Woods or 'Woody' as we knew him was always a snappy dresser. His mother turned him out immaculately for every occasion. He was an only child and his parents doted on him. When he expressed an interest in shooting he arrived on the scene with a proper shooting jacket and hunting boots which his mother had ordered from the Littlewoods catalogue. He usually wore a tie and one of the racy little 'Robin Hood' hats that were fashionable at the time. Woody was a totally logical youth who seemed to be devoid of a sense of humour. Our sarcastic jokes about his attire were completely missed by him and after a while we took him for granted as one of the gang.

Woody had his uses, he was taller than any of us and had a superior air. These attributes together with his suave attire enabled him to buy ammunition for us and generally deal with all our adult contacts.

- Tony Sheppard