I’ve long been a fan of Gil and Vicki Ash and their collective teaching, finding their outlook on shooting sports refreshing and having successfully adopted a handful of their suggestions I was instantly keen to hear of their planned trip to the UK to teach some clinics and host a seminar.
The trip was masterminded by Ed Lyons and Adam Gutteridge, both of whom had been to visit the Ashes in Texas the previous year and returned enthused as to what they could offer UK shooters of varying abilities and experience levels. Add in Adam Curtis of Grange Farm fame and a venue for the instructional part of their visit was secured!
I made the trip down on the morning of Friday 28th September and arrived at Grange just after 8am. Several of the other attendees were already there and Ed, Ben, Gil and Vicki thundered in under the power of Ed’s Maserati shortly afterwards. I think that it was fair to say that Gil and Vicki had both experienced what it was like to drive on the “wrong side”…
Gil and Vicki were both very likeable right from the get go and after having made their introductions began to set up a laptop, projector and screen with which to convey their thoughts and teachings. Once set up Gil talked through the theories and fielded questions from the group on anything and everything related to the topic.
The basis of their teaching is scientific research into how the eyes, brain and body are linked whilst shooting and in essence how you can best utilise that relationship to result in breaking more clays. The “classroom” segment of the morning lasted just under a couple of hours by which time we were all relishing the opportunity to head out onto the course and have a play with some new techniques.
Aside from the technique side of things, Vicki is also one of the most experienced shotgun coaches in dealing with eye dominance issues. As a non-sufferer it wasn’t of prime importance to me, but the fact that she managed to convert three shooters who started the day shooting with one eye open to shooting well with both eyes open, would make me want to contact them or Ed Lyons (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information if I did!
The Friday session wasn’t full, which I assume must have been a slight disappointment to the organisers. The upside of this was that it gave us all more trigger time and my particular group had three students (of varying ability) including myself in plus Gil and chief grounds person Mr Curtis Snr.
We shot a variety of targets throughout the remainder of the morning with Gil interjecting whenever he felt necessary with advice on what we could do to improve our performances. From a personal viewpoint, small tweaks yielded dividends and it was pleasing to discover what could be integrated alongside my current shooting technique.
Lunch was plentiful and Mrs C’s cakes did not disappoint in either quality or quantity! After a suitable digestive break, as much for the information as it was for the food, we headed back out to the course in our respective groups and continued the round practising.
The opportunity to shoot with Gil in attendance was a unique opportunity to discuss how the theory matched the reality and in several cases allowed myself , and others, to question how applicable it was for me to use on certain targets. As shooting styles vary significantly this is definitely not a one solution fits all scenario so I was happy enough to stay open minded for the day and then assimilate what i can integrate successfully, if needs be,
If i had to commit to what changes I will be making since the chance to meet and try Gil and Vicki’s suggestions it would be based around three specific areas:
– Visual pick up technique
– Initial gun movement
At the end of the session I went out for dinner with Ed, Ben, Gil, Vicki, Adam and Rachel and we had an opportunity to further discuss every aspect of the day. I feel that I made the most out of the day by approaching it with an open mind and trying every technique no matter how alien it felt at times. If I hadn’t I know that I would still be wondering “what if…”, so at the very least I now have clarity and a number of solid component parts of my shooting to work on over the Winter.
Thanks to Ed, Ben, Gil and Vicki for a fantastic opportunity to learn something different. I look forward to taking them up on their very kind offer to visit them in Texas some time in the not too distant future.