Robert with his first deer - and a first for the Bangor Boys

It’s not all about pulling the trigger

Robert is a close mate. He is a genuine, hard-working man who is the same age as meand who is part of a group that I call “the Bangor Boys”.

The Bangor Boys are allmature men who centre around a really nice fellow called RussellHardy. Russell is also my age, holds down a very responsible nationalfleet management job and he loves SMLEs and conversions of them. Hecame to shooting, camping and a love of the outdoors through hisfather Ted, who is a 90-year-old Tobruk Rat, who also served rightthrough the Pacific as a combat engineer and was wounded in battle.Ted still shoots with our club, the Royal Australian Engineers (CMF)Rifle Club, but concedes his age to bench shooting now, rather thanthree-position service rifle.

Recently, I went awayhunting with Robert, Russell and few others (Ted stayed home) and wehad an absolute ball. I’d been hunting with Robert a few times overthe last few years and he had had poor luck, not bagging foxes comingto the whistle and missing a few opportunities on other game. Helearnt a few lessons from these occurrences, but laughed off hismisfortune. I’d imagine that his disappointment in himself wasintense but he never showed it to us.

Overlaid with his huntingmishaps, Robert had been undergoing several regular bouts ofdebilitating and expensive chemotherapy subsequent to surgery forbowel cancer. He’s not clear of it yet but his attitude is that hewill beat it and he makes every post he can a winner, despite beingin almost constant pain. Sitting down on a fox whistling stand meanshe has to battle to get up, because previous surgery cut through hisabdominal wall, making any move like a sit-up impossible.

Notwithstanding theseproblems, Robert was determined to wring everything he could out ofhis experiences, having a few drinks at night with his mates andgetting up first in the morning and sometimes going out by himselfbecause we were still pumping out zeds.

On the target shootingside of things, Robert, relatively new to service shooting, co-owns an SMLE .303 with his mate Barry, and he fully owns a beautiful RemingtonCDL in .25-06, purchased on the advice of Nick Harvey. He has notbeen disappointed with it.

He was most chuffed withit recently as he, amongst all of us five more or less fitmiddle-agers, was the only one to bag a deer on our last hunt, andthe first of the Bangor Boys to do so at all.

Now, I have been loaning myCZ .527 Varminter in .223 to Robert to shoot in non-serviceclassification and scoped sniper matches with the club and watchedhim perform relatively poorly when undergoing chemo. When he is notbeing drugged, he improves substantially.

At our last 300m snipermatch, I again lent him the CZ and coached him as per normal andobserved him pull off a very creditable 91/100, with small,well-centred groups. He was really happy with this, because the windconditions were very challenging; he then hung around while I gotdown to shoot.

Now, when I have shotsniper matches with that rifle, I have never been beaten in nearlytwo years of competition; this time I got down and achieved aposition steadier that I ever had previously. I was feeling goodabout the shoot all the way through, calling all but one of my shotsas well within the four-inch bullseye. The mirage was horrible so Icould not see where my bullets were landing. Nonetheless, I thought Imay do OK.

As it happened, I achievedgroups nearly as small as Robert but it was in the wrong place by avital inch or two in both cases and I garnered an 83/100 and nocigar, or medallion for that matter. I was a bit perplexed, to put itmildly.

Robert’s 91 gothim the highest score for the day over all classifications – he was‘Cock o’ the Walk’ in the old riflemen’s parlance and he tookit very modestly, when most people would puff out their chests andpreen. At that point, particularly after successfully hunting afallow deer, Robert had passed a great mental and I’d arguespiritual milestone.

Those who would seehunters and shooters lose their sport because of some misguided greenideology need to see stories like this. Here is a man who is by anydefinition a good citizen, a devoted family man who just happens tolike pursuing our still-legal recreation. It gives him motivation,health benefits, social activity and it provides a degree ofself-actualisation (Maslow’s term for fulfilment) that he cannotattain with any other recreation. He does not hurt anyone and he is alovely bloke to know and spend time with.

And these green idealogueswould take away this vital part of his life (and yours) in thepursuit of some nirvana where no animal ever dies from any cause in asituation that we know will never exist. They paint us as a societalevil and by doing so, they are dehumanising all hunters and shooters, and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so.




Like it? Share with your friends!

What's Your Reaction?

super super
fail fail
fun fun
bad bad
hate hate
lol lol
love love
omg omg
Marcus O'Dean