Shooting might be the best fun to be had with your clothes on but a spectator sport it ain’t.
True, back in the 1980s a brilliant concept called Starshot burst onto TV and those around at the time will remember the floodlights, flash clays and imposing illuminated ‘dartboard’ that lit up the autumn night sky.
If you looked closely you could even see the shot cloud flicker momentarily against the blackness when someone missed.
It was massively visual and the Pro- Celebrity format had huge appeal to non-shooters.
Several million viewers watched the first series on BBC2 and filming for a follow-up was already in progress when Michael Ryan ran amok in Hungerford killing 14, including his own mum.
Guns were suddenly ‘bad news’ and Starshot – the creation of David Maxwell – was dropped by TV as fast as you could say ‘pull’.
Since then flash clays have continued to give clay competitions, shooting demonstrations and simulated game days a measure of spectator appeal.
But it now has a rival called Firebird – something with even bigger attention-grabbing potential.
12 LONG YEARS
Thanks to ever changing Health and Safety regulations it has taken John Green of Wiltshire 12 long years to come up with a pyrotechnic device that fits to the base of a clay target and explodes when hit.
It really is spectacular and explosive stuff – targets disappear in a flash of light, loud bang and cloud of smoke.
Firebird made its debut at this year’s CLA Game Fair in front of the clay shooting grandstand and it went down a treat with everyone.
Having now shot exploding clays at Firebrand’s official launch I can see why.
Hit one and the effect is stunning. It’s tailor-made for television.
Whether championship clay shooters will take to them though remains to be seen because on still, damp, days it can take time for the smoke to disperse, a possible distraction to other competitors.
John, however, said: “We can regulate the amount of smoke given off and we can also change the colour of the explosive flash, something that will really appeal to those who shoot clay snooker. Firebird adds another dimension to clay shooting and makes corporate events, country shows and game fairs an even bigger thrill.”
The adhesive backed disc fits easily inside the clay but Firebird’s main drawback is that it has to be hit from underneath for it to explode.
This means it has limited appeal to trap and skeet shooters firing at edge-on targets but John says he’s working on this and hopes to have another version ready – one with the explosive material on the outer surface.
The device is also being welcomed by air rifle shooters and archers as an exciting way to liven up competitions and the army is now looking at Firebird from a training perspective for long range sniper training.
It’s likely that deer stalkers, fox shooters and .22 rimfire users will also enjoy trying them out either in practice or when zeroing rifles.
AND THE COST?
The 65mm adhesive-backed clay version costs 50p per ‘hit’ and comes supplied in handy tubes of 25.
The slightly smaller rifle disc – which fits into a lightweight magnetic holder – sells for 40p.
Firebird is safe to transport and will not go off if banged or dropped – it can only be detonated by a fast moving projectile.
In the case of clay targets the disc needs a minimum of two pellet strikes to make it go bang.
Firebird Reactive Targets should soon be appearing in gunshops around the country.
To find your nearest stockist, or talk to the makers, phone 01793741630 or email email@example.com