Creeping out in the dark the other day, as one does, the ducks on the river were giving it big licks in the quacking department. What that means I know not. I’m not very fluent in duck, but I think they were Mallard. What does his matter? Well, we hear, ha, or I hear, all the time, about animals and their vision. What they can see, what colours, or not and so on.

But, here’s a thing. Nobody talks much, in duck talk or any other talk, about those aforementioned dyucks seeing in the dark. Maybe the theories have gone down the Swanney?


Possibly the very worst television programme ever. Why am I watching it?  Cos it’s blowing a hooley outside and I didn’t brave the woods. Indeed, last night, accuweather said a lot of these woods might land on me if I went out! But I digress.

This  chap, Professor Brian Cox was on. Very interesting man. He delivered a fantastic quote, from Richard Feynman.

“The great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance.”

Thats what coaching is all about to me. Knowing that we do not know, but still striving to know. That’s my quote. Not quite the same gravitas, but, as far as I’m aware, God loves a trier.

So, polishing boots, skinning deer and sawing logs on the menu. My own wee version of Life Below Zero!

Second thing.

Because this colum is upside down, the first thing on Tuesday morning was “Wakey Wakey.” I still question who remembers Billy Cotton? But who cares?

The next thing was:

”Belarus President promises top-quality 2019 European Games.”

Plenty to think about when a lad has pieces to make, roe sacks to clean, dogs to pet, birds to feed and coffee to make for the boss.

Phew. OT begins to sound attractive.

Wakey wakey!

Ah, who remembers Billy Cotton? But I digress. The opening sentence from this morning was :

”The Geheimschreiber thus successfully produced an enciphered message that appeared at random.”

Pretty much like reading this fine column! I must attribute the quote and it came from “Colossus. Bletchley Park’s Last Secret” by Paul Gannon.

I’ve been on the Bletchley trail for a few weeks now and have come across Gannon. His tome is somewhat technical for a chap who can’t even do sums, never mind the highest of maths. I did work a teleprinter in a past life right enough and that was a torture machine. Those of you who are old enough to have worked on them will recall the challenges with the shift keys. No wonder that sometimes the German operators became lazy.

I’m off now to work out the intricacies of OT. I bet even Turing would have been stressed with that! Good morning.

In the vernacular?

”So so,” I am told, refers to “same old, same old.” Herein lies the basis for today’s fable, as I stress the same old things again. And again. Usually, or often, this is the importance of dry training at home. This can simply be gun mounting but often there is more to it than that. Gun mounting is a start.

I suggest that very few shooters, of the relatively non professional type, can (afford to) shoot 20,000 cartridges a year. Many coaches would suggest that 20,000 cartridges a year is an absolute minimum. There is a gap there. I don’t think I know a shooter, in Scotland certainly, who fires 20,000 cartridges a year although I do know some in Britain who probably do. What then is the answer? Well, simply, dry training. If you do 150 dry mounts per day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year, you are at fifty thousand or so. I think you are anyway. Correct me please. It’s not hard to do 150 dry mounts. Up, dry mount. Shower, dry mount. Just before you go out and lock up gun, dry mount. Come home, go to cupboard, dry mount. It’s not hard. But, of course there must be a willingness, a desire there to do it.

I have probably heard every excuse in the book for not doing dry mounting training. And yet the shooters, as I will loosely refer to them, appreciate that dry mounting is a good thing and it will help them. But they don’t do it. Why? Well who knows?

Dont get me started on visualisation or imagery or whatever you care to call it. Or goal setting. Or fitness training. Little wonder they don’t get where they want to be.

If they even have any idea of where that is!

Rocketing – again.

Twice in a short space of time do I mention Rocket. O’Sullivan that is, as there was a rocket shot Olympic Skeet a while ago. Richard somebody from Derbyshire. Annoyingly, being old, I’ve forgotten his name despite being many places at the same time, and, indeed, lending him my Vostok in Wales once to allow him to win the Welsh Grand Prix. The prize was a huge mirror which was impossible to transport! I also remember at an International he shot a 19 on his first round. Unheard of. He went and sat in the car, obviously gave himself a good talking to and finished on 92. But I digress. (His name will come to me.)

This time I mention Rocket as I am home early from the training ground. The weather is grimbo. But some hardy souls were there and thus so was I. As soon as the last one finished on success -I was offski. So, having prepared a late luncheon I was watching the snooker. I like individual sports. Rockets opponent fluffed a shot at one time and the commentators were interested in why. They did not know. The ball, or balls got a “kick” but they couldn’t discern, despite several replays why. Obviously I had no clue.

So, what has all this got to do with anything? Well, the comment was “a kick means bad cueing,” although in this case they agreed that was not what caused it. But, in ‘limpic Skeet, a miss is often attributed to bad gun mounting – which it can be sometimes – but much more often is caused by bad timing at the start. The shooter does not see the target correctly and sets off. Brain goes “why?” Fiddle, faddle, Nothing for the gun to go to, hiccuppy, hoccuppy, gun does not come up properly and a miss results. Shooter rubs Skeet vest and walks off. Sod all to do with vest. Plenty to do with timing. As I was telling a chap in the lashing rain this morning. As I do. In a nice way I hope. As I think people matter. Not like some I could mention. But won’t.

More Pees.

Ruminating on her Dameship’s comments below (see Row, Row etc), a comment made to me the other day came to mind. It may be pure gold -and it may not be unique to him – but Wayne Goldsmith ( raised a very pertinent point perfectly.

People and Performance come before Periodisation and Programming. Something that bullies with boots enjoying brute force often forget – or, in fact, have never thought of in the first place. Human beans are just that. Not machines. Empathy and sympathy do matter – a suggestion many of those that I loathe will laugh at.

I’ve been laughed at all my life.

Row, row, row the boat- – –

Dame Katherine Grainger is at it again. Speaking sense that is. Supporting the athletes that is. Addressing the bullying culture so prevalent in sports that is. Wonderful. Everything that I read about this Dame fills me with joy. And, it seems she’s getting backing where it matters. That’s maybe easy of course, as so many sports have been found to have this dreadful bullying culture, where athletes are afraid to speak in case they get kicked off the team, that people know that this sort of thing is going on. And athletes are speaking up. Not enough, because they are still frightened if that’s not too strong a word, but it’s moving in the right direction.

So this morning there’s more good news. Coaching staff are going to be issued with guidance on the “Four golden threads of a positive and winning sporting culture.”

These are: inspiration, integrity, the pursuit of excellence and respect. This last one, in my experience, is sadly lacking with athletes being treated abysmally, often. But they are frightened to say anything. As I’ve said.

Row, row, row the boat merrily down the stream. In the right direction. Not round and round in circles. I hope some in ivory towers take a moment to ponder their style. They won’t of course as they know it all! God help us. Oh no. We have Dame Katherine Grainger pulling hard too. Phew.


Sunday afternoon. Having a day off. But, as ever, so many things jump out.

Here’s a quote from a magazine. I’ve changed some of he words a little just as an amusement. Then I’ll tell you the truth, or the full story.

”A lot of shooters didn’t shoot with much confidence and you didn’t fancy their chances, whereas xxxxx would hit one after another – bang, bang, bang -and you thought he was never going to miss.

Part of his secret was that he spent hours PRACTISING, PERFECTING HIS TECHNIQUE.” (My capitals of course.)

”often the secret to successful shooting is getting the basics right.”

How often do I make comments like those above?  Constantly I hope. If not I’m being lax.

So, who’s words are these? The rocket man. No, not Elton, but Ronnie O’Sullivan. Whom does he refer to? Steve Davis unsurprisingly. All I’ve done is substitute shooting words for snooker words. But the message is the same.

I asked a young lad last week how much dry training he had done in the week since I last saw him.

“Yes, I did some on Wednesday night.” Shocked, I asked why only on Wednesday . He replied that that was the night the club was open. I was at pains to point out that it was an every day thing. Constant. Unrelenting. Vital. Important.

So, referring again to Steve Davis’ training, it matters not what the sport is, you have got to put the hours in. I often comment to the shooters, and particularly shooters resident in sunny Scotland, that they are unlikely to shoot 20,000 cartridges a year, a number often regarded by many coaches as an absolute minimum, but that they can certainly do 20,000 dry mounts per year. Add to that visualisation, imagery -call it what you will – and the hours all build up – as, naturally, do the skill levels.

Anser Anser?

But what is the question?

Goosey goosey gander,

Whither shall I wander?

Upstairs and downstairs

And in my lady’s chamber.

There I met an old man

Who wouldn’t say his prayers,

So I took him by his left leg

And threw him down the stairs.

And so, what prompts all of this avian commentary? Well, yesterday, not far from home, a field of stubble was absolutely covered in geese. I’m not actually sure that they were greylags as, despite the numbers, I couldn’t get a proper look at them. They may well have been Pinkfeet. They of course are Anser Brachyrhyncus, which makes the title somewhat redundant, if on the same theme. Then we come to the question of shooting. Are they quarry species? Certainly. Are you allowed to shoot them with lead? Well, as I recall, that is somewhat country specific. My knowledge, as with so many things, is limited, but we in the land of the Scotti, can shoot them in fields with lead shot, but not so over water. In the land of the Angles, as I recall, it’s a species specific matter and goosey goosey ganders, and perhaps for all I know, all waterfowl, must be shot with lead free ammo, regardless of venue, for want of a better word. I’m afraid that I have no knowledge of the Gauls or the Gaels over the water. Back to seeking Ansers!

As to the little rhyme, there is so much to it naturally, the suggestion being that it refers to Catholic Priests hiding from their pursuers. More kvestions than ansers again zaichata.