At the behest of their Head Keeper Adam Brown that eclectic band of itinerant sporting men united only by a cap badge and a cap, the Hindoostan Shooting Club, staged a clay shooting day on Friday 6 July at the Bisley shooting ground with the aim of raising money for the Dukes Memorial appeal.
For a somewhat disparate group who had hitherto only met up a couple of times a year in obscure parts of the country to blast frenzied salvoes of lead shot into the air in the not always successful quest of hitting something other than themselves this was quite an undertaking. Not only were they to put on a clay shooting competition, but also a classy lunch followed by a charity auction. This required the members to scour their contact books and corral as many competitive and, above all, well-heeled punters they could find to make up the teams as well as wheedle attractive and free auction prizes that would inspire some cut-throat bidding.
Perhaps, some thought, this task they had set themselves was one drive too many for the day. However, to the confoundment of any doubters the event was an absolute triumph, much enjoyed by all participants and realising the not inconsiderable sum of £15,000.00 for the appeal.
On the day a total of 52 guns organised into 13 teams plus a few hangers on were treated not only to some magnificent weather but also to a professionally organised and challenging shooting experience. To the occasional game shot shooting clays has two major drawbacks: first you cannot eat them and second that there is absolutely nowhere to hide. Out in the shooting field one can blaze away merrily and at the end say that you shot a brace or two and nobody is usually any the wiser. At a clay stand, however, your woeful technique, poor stance and wonky master eye will be revealed in all their awfulness.
Happily, however, the Bisley staff, clearly all grizzled veterans of many a terrifying breach of shotgun safety, managed to keep even the most nervous shot more or less on target and some very good scores were recorded. Shooting over, everyone retired to the imposing Bisley club house for a delicious lunch followed by the auction. This was the moment for Under Keeper Andy McNeilis to step forward and reveal that all those many nights spent at corporate charity auctions over the years have paid off big time. His performance was a tour de force. Indeed so persuasive was he in generating bids that one member’s son bid up to Four figures on a lot before being eventually outdone to the obvious relief of his father!
The star prize was a tandem parachute jump with the SAS and, naturally, this generated a lot of interest amongst the non-military attendees – at least those – not many – under the 16 stone weight limit. Of course, the ex-military participants kept their hands firmly by their sides when this lot was auctioned. They knew that the tandem jump would be one thing, but the landing would be quite another as extraction from the DZ would undoubtedly require a forced march over the Hindu Kush living on lichen and drinking one’s own urine. As it happened this lot eventually realised £4,000.00 which is very impressive. Let’s hope they all made it back safely.
All in all a very good day’s work for the HSC and hopefully the first of what will become a regular event.