Will Garfit’s dream pigeon shooting team
"My team would have to be selected from those special pigeon shooting enthusiasts with whom I have enjoyed sharing a hide over the years," says Will Garfit
The first would have to be the late Archie Coats, father of modern pigeon shooting. He was like a sporting father to me as friend, tutor and influence, for better or for worse. He was a superb shot using his Webley 700 boxlock, side-by-side, with nimble footwork, fast reactions and intense concentration for the opportunity of a safe shot at whatever quarry entered his air space. His dear wife Prue would of course be invited to accompany him.
The late John Ransford was a fanatical pigeon shot in his home county of Shropshire and broke Archie’s record of 550 with his 561 in a day. He was a great character and I enjoyed many wonderful days pigeon decoying with him on rape stubbles. Back in this life for a day he would again be great company.
George Digweed was the easiest person with whom I have shared a hide. He just said: “You take everything within 50 yards and I will take the rest!” And he did, but generously allowed my share to come within 50 yards. George is probably the finest shot that ever lived and has a record number of world championship titles, but as a countryman his heart is in a pigeon hide and not surprisingly he now holds the pigeon record. He may have won the Olympic Gold medal in Australia but Richard Faulds is as keen on shooting grey pigeons as clay pigeons. He is a great ambassador for the sport of shooting and a lovely chap with whom to share a hide, and an inspiration to raise one’s game.
Peter Theobald is a former British skeet champion and has great concentration, fast reactions and consistent accuracy. We have shared some big days together with an unmentionable total one day from our two hides. With Essex charm and a wry sense of humour he would be a great asset to the party.
So too would the late John Humphreys. “Fenman” and “Countryman” to so many, over many years we spent many happy days together chasing Cambridgeshire pigeons and comparing our approach and techniques. He was sarcastic about some of mine but had to admit they worked. He would keep the party amused as a brilliant raconteur of amusing tales as smoke billows from his pipe, filling the gun bus.
I have another local friend with whom I regularly shoot pigeons and refer to as A.C. in my articles. He is modest about his name being mentioned but accepts me using his initials. He is on crutches having lost a leg in an accident as a young man. He pulls my leg mercilessly but is sensitive about me pulling his, as with only one he says he would fall over.
For many years I have enjoyed my father and son tip shooting in Aberdeenshire with my old friend Andy Hill. We met as representatives of our respective areas on the BASC woodpigeon working party. He is a colourful, bearded character with a heart of gold. He would be on my dream pigeon shooting team.
With a full complement of guns I would therefore want my son Henry Garfit to take my peg for the day. He represents the next generation and I have had the great joy of introducing him to shooting and pigeon shooting in particular. It is with him that I have the greatest thrill when sharing a hide and though he is now over 40, as a proud father, I still get greater pleasure from his shots than my own.
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