Shooting vision. It can be the end of your shooting career if you get this wrong.

Three years ago at the tender age of 50, I decided I would take up clay shooting seriously. For the first two weeks I muddled my way round a sporting course hitting 60 something with an old gun i bought when I was just 17. A new gun was needed clearly. Enter Browning 28″ bla bla bla. No real improvement. Then some advice to try English Skeet as a good starting point. Several months of blasting away hitting at best 18 on bright sunny days soon fell to 15 when the winter rolled in. The poorer the light got, the poorer my already disappointing scores looked.

By chance I bumped into David Beardsmore, who just happened to be a two time English Skeet World Champion. “I can teach you to shoot that thing” he said. For the past two years I have shot in all conditions and put many thousands of rounds down the range. My average is now 98/100. During those sometimes painful and depressing times there have been moments of joy, shooting my first 25/25 and Dave shooting my hat. Falling ill and completely losing the plot last season and dropping from a AA to a B. then the realisation that no matter how good my coach was, this is all down to me.

Then the real kicker – my vision was clearly not up to the job.

New Pilla Panthers with fresh prescription inserts fitted by Spec Savers it was back to the drawing board. Eye dominance issues sorted with bits of tape and it starts to come back to me. A row of comps with 96/100 and the confidence was coming back.
Then just when I get to 75/75 I’d get tired and drop a shot. My bloody eyes!! AAAAAAHHHH!!

Winter again – the Pilla’s were steaming up and too much clutter in my vision from frames, inserts, tape and something neither I or my coach could definitively identify. My vision was still not up to the mark.

This was a very low moment, now 53, getting older was starting to take its toll. I haven’t lived the life of a fading violet, and the body mk1 after all of the abuse its had, was failing me. My vision just wasn’t good enough.

Sometimes your dreams are simply not cheap. So you should never give up until your coach does. David Beardsmore had not given up. The little Browning went a long time ago and had been replaced with a Berretta DT10. Dream of a gun. If my girl Laraine Phillips was not so loving and good looking I’d sleep with my DT10. The Berreta had more work to make it fit perfectly and the weight increased to slow me down to get precise muzzle control.

Still no 100/100

So it was time to start all over again and review everything, the gun fit, even a new squat position inserted in my set up to help with body mechanics. Finally after a long post training discussion with coach David Beardsmore. Coach advises me to go to Edward Lyons Olympic Sports Optician. His last word to me were, “its not going to be cheap”. Cheers Dave, when has this ever been cheap?

But worth every penny!!!!

Edward Lyons changed and upgraded my inserts. Specsavers and Vision Express only get you to an acceptable level for daily life, Frankly its piss poor. Four levels too low for top line shooting!!!

With the first training session the breaks were coming real good “cleaner than a porn stars whistle” and yes my first 100/100
David Beardsmore gave me the next six training dates and we started all over again. A string of comps, not all registered, and the scores are holding together. But still struggling with steaming up Pilla’s.

Back to Edward Lyons. Out come all the new frames and lenses from different manufacturers and a special set of new lenses is ordered. For a brand new set of Pilla’s. They arrived today and Ed fitted them this morning.

So was it worth it?

You bet your ass it was!!!!!!!

The last six sessions with David Beardsmore were about precision and repeatability. When he said, “tight chokes, and I want you to shoot off the front edge, then the back edge, then the middle and keep repeating it”. I did my best, but to be honest I though he was nuts.

Well he wasn’t nuts.

Ed fitted the new Pilla’s this morning. It was weird, I could suddenly see more of the clays trajectory, movement and detail than I have ever seen. D range at Doveridge with the voice commander on and zero degrees on the thermometer, this was going to test the new specs. 200 rounds and warming up and no steaming up, at all.

I just had fun picking of front and back edges. Fine tuning. Then to put them in the middle of the clays and into rounds. Just a great time.
But frankly – Shooting ball after ball of black dust without any effort just gave me a H— on!!!

Thank you coach David Beardsmore there is a reason why you are the best!

Thank you Edward Lyons for the time, the skill, the quality of work and for being the genius you are.

How much I hear you ask?


John Matcham
Wearing Pilla 580 frames with 94HC lenses

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