IT was a heavy gun.
Heavier than my previous experience with Lone Star Six Shooters
and a Sheriff's badge had prepared me for back in those days before big big
men shooting wily but somewhat low-tech Indians was remotely imagined sexist,
racist or militaristic. Good clean healthy innocent games and fun, BANG
But this gun was truly for real. Cold, hard, black and heavy.
My arm trembled as I raised it to level my eye behind the sight. Cursing
to myself I tried to keep my aim steady as barrel and thoughts wandered.
Why am I left-handed when using a gun? Sinister, there's no doubt about
it, it just feels natural that way, as natural as any activity we. have learnt
deeply and there is seldom anything natural about.
Left leg and left shoulder forward; left arm, left eye. The same eye as behind
a camera, breathing controlled, slowly squeezing the trigger, just the same.
Immediately a bullet flies past me, a cross between a whine, a whiplash and
all other bullet clichés. Shooting I may be lousy at, but I'm no slouch
with reflexes and I'm halfway to hitting the floor before I realise that targets
don't shoot back.
My hosts in the shooting gallery fall about laughing and offer volumes of
advice, most of which, like the word ricochet, fortunately fall outside
the range of Elementary German (failed twice, the third time
the examiners took pity on me).
Photographs and text by Peter Marshall
photography and writing are necessarily
Any resemblances in this work to actual people places or events
are simply resemblances
We are in a small hotel in the northern suburbs of a northern city. Walk
in and you see exactly, what you would expect; a few tables, chairs and a
bar. Hands stretch out as you approach the table at the back and make your
way round formally greeting the two or three couples and half a dozen single
men seated there, just as when you meet any other group of friends in Germany.
But out of the bar through the door to the loo and you enter darkness. A
long, narrow room, lit only by spotlights at the far end trained on small
squares of card. Silent between shots, deadly earnest, a crazy church whose
supplicants punch holes at twenty metres through a set of concentric circles.
Slowly and reluctantly the evidence squeals back along its tram-wires as
the crank is turned, then returns the hero with vanquished target to the bright
lights, the noisy chatter, admiring or ribald comments on his prowess and
another round of beers.
Tonight is the night for the Police Sports and Social Club. I can't
help thinking I might have made out better on a Thursday, when, as the certificates
and plaques on the wall announce, it is the turn of the Rabbit Breeders
Friendly Association, although what goes on in the dark on these occasions
I can only leave you to speculate.
Perhaps one day the two organisations will mistakenly get a double booking
and end up with a gigantic rabbit pie.
All pictures and text © Peter Marshall, 1985, 1997