Chapter 16. Tring rifle club.


- Tony

Philip Pagett-Browne entered our life again briefly on a recruiting drive for Tring small bore rifle club. The thought of shooting real rifles appealed to us so we started going to sessions. It was the discipline that spoilt it for us. We were free spirited shooters and waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the adults to finish on the range before we could get our go, bored us. Our one diversion was the .38 Bulldog revolver that hung precariously on a nail on the wall of the clubroom as a decoration. It was covered with thick nicotine and dust and had no decorative value any more being just a dark fluffy shape against the yellowing wallpaper.

To while away the hour or so we had to wait, we rocked our chairs against the wooden hut wall, each bump making the little gun's nail a bit looser. Then we would be called to shoot. We were only allowed to keep our rifles pointing down range at all times. Ten rounds were then issued to us and "load" was shouted to allow us to begin shooting the Martini action rifles and "unload" was shouted when our time was up. We were allowed a number of goes depending on how long the senior members had left us.

Each week the nail in the wall got looser and looser ...

British Bulldog .38 revolver

... until the gun fell off behind the old sofa. Would anyone notice its disappearance? We decided to wait until the following week and if it was still behind the sofa we would consider it not wanted and have it!

A week passed and once more we were sitting waiting to have our turn on the range. Alan sat in the sofa with his arm nonchalantly draped over the arm. He felt around and signalled to us all that it was there. For a moment Alan had it in his sweaty hand. Was it loaded? Perhaps he should keep his finger away from the trigger. We all felt a shiver of excitement. Slowly he inched it to the side of the heavy sofa. Suddenly a red faced old colonel bellowed as if on the parade ground. "Where's the bloody bulldog?" We all jumped up and moved back the sofa pretending to look for the fallen weapon. With a surprised look Pete brandished it in the air as if he had just found it and handed it to the old man. The colonel wiped it roughly on his trousers then fitted it back up on its precarious perch.

- Tony Sheppard