The Yaffa Gun Group’s assembled talent at the recent SSAA SHOT Expo. I never said we were good looking

One shell hole at a time…


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My 20 year-old daughter Siobhan is an exceptional young lady. She is pursuing a degree in psychology at UNSW, would rival Lynn Bain in the kitchen, baking cakes and muffins worthy of Zumbo and she has a real affinity with animals, being the caring centre of a menagerie of cats and dogs in our house. I am truly blessed with my children.

Another area where Siobhan is exceptional is the selection of her friends and particularly her long-term boyfriend Hugh, whose photos appear with this column. He is a soon-to-be Exercise Physiology graduate, first grade rugby and cricket player and most conscientious in all his pursuits. He is also the fittest man I have ever met, taking every spare moment to work on his core stability or strength in other areas. He is also an indulgent and tolerant partner to my mercuric daughter.

I had extended the invitation to Hugh to come for a shoot at Malabar on any Saturday he had spare and he, out of politeness I think, thanked me and went on with what he was doing. The first day Hugh came in the door and saw the lounge room floor covered with longarms, he faltered a little, wondering what he had walked into, but over time it became water off the proverbial duck. I think, being at a university, any comment or exposure about guns, hunting and shooting he would have come across would probably have been negative propaganda.

Consequently, he diplomatically kept his distance, that is until a few weeks ago. He asked if he could shoot on a football bye day.

Now my dear old Dad has a saying, “One shell hole at a time”, referring to World War 1 trench warfare when troops advancing into the teeth of vicious Maxim fire may achieve their objectives by going forward in little bits, hoping to be victorious. In Hugh’s case, I felt the initial offer was the first shell hole, his acceptance was the second and his shoot was the next.

On to the service shoot, which was fortuitously at 100m standing. It consisted of three distinct serials, which I used to full advantage. For the first serial, I had Hugh prone with my Savage .22 Mag, with which he achieved a 50.5 possible. Next stage I handed him an open-sighted .303 light-loaded with 124gn Lapua FMJs; with this, he achieved 7 hits from 7 on a figure 12 turning snap target. Next stage was a 40-second 8-round rapid on a figure 11 target and I got him to stand, shooting it as every other practised competitor did that day. He missed it once.

His total score was 96.5 out of 100 and he was walking on air.

While his result was exceptional for a first timer, I thought he would do well because of his self-discipline, fitness, his ability to listen and absorb information and to apply safety, position, breathing, sight picture, trigger release and follow through assiduously. He did not disappoint. He also commented on how friendly and welcoming the shooters were and also how safe he felt throughout his time at the range.

Now guess what. He’s asked to come shooting again and he’s relishing the challenge of shooting 300 metres – shell hole 4. If every established licensed shooter out there can make just one conversion, we are all another shell hole towards winning the PR battle in which we are now engaged. For NSW-based shooters, the Police Commissioner is currently trying to wind back the try shooting P650 form, which would decimate our sport. This must be resisted at all costs.

SHOT Expo 2012

At one point during the first day of the recent SSAA SHOT Expo at Homebush, Al Quaeda could have wiped out a fair percentage of the hunting writer talent in Australia with one grenade. Assembled for a great gabfest were Nick Harvey, Col Allison, Clint Magro, Tony Pizzata, Alex Juris, yours truly and our new Website Editor, Mick Matheson. It was a great opportunity to not only see what the gun trade had on offer, but also to catch up with such marvellous established talent and generous spirit in the one time and place.

One great development to come out of this knees-up was that Mick got to meet up with all the established Sporting Shooter writers, who have wholeheartedly welcomed him on board. No doubt in time he will become as salty and hard-bitten as the rest of the Sporting Shooter crew, offering a great perspective on the Australian hunting and shooting scene through


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Marcus O'Dean

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