Here at Silverstone Shooting Centre we feel it is inherent in our role to promote the sport of target shooting in a positive manner so when a TV company calls up asking to shoot things for a TV show we are immediately keen to ensure that the message they are intending to create shows our sport in a positive light. Over the years I've personally done a fair bit of TV work but mainly in the motorsport arena, we did the Top Gear 24hr car for them for example and I presented a series on car tuning so we know what to expect and also what to be wary of, however this was different in that this was the National Film and Television School.
Idea was simple, as part of the course the final year students taking their TV and Film Production degree need to create a show from scratch and the idea was for a quiz show involving firearms. Now this just sounds wrong but the idea was simple, two teams of people answer questions about their partner (think Mr and Mrs but without the marriage) with both teams having 5 targets each, as each team get a question wrong I shoot one of their targets, the team with targets left at the end wins.
Of course with any idea involving firearms the over riding aspect we needed to address was safety, all the crew must be behind the firer, all wearing eye and ear protection and the promotion of the shooter (me) was to be in a non aggressive manner, the show was not about shooting, it was about penalties and guns were a means to deliver that to the targets. Speaking of penalties the targets we used were water melons, one team painted red but the final target was a mobile phone (fake, but you get the idea) to act as a meaningful target - this is TV land remember.
For the shoot (in both senses of the word) I chose a Remington 700 in .308 - a big bullet that would make a fun thing to film when it hits a water melon, the gun was fitted with an AB arms stock and fitted with a Wildcat Predator 9 moderator, I was shooting Remington R308W1 rounds.
The shoot went well enough (not exactly a trick shot to shoot a water melon at 100m!) but shooting the phone created some amusement as at one point it looked like I'd missed it three times, turns out one of the students had fixed the phone to the target stand so firmly that it appeared not to move after the shot, after 3 shots we expected it to fly up into the air we walked down and discovered I'd put three rounds through the same bullet hole which wasn't enough to dislodge the phone from the stand. Could've been a bit embarrassing if I'd missed!
The whole day was a great success, not only was the whole event conducted in a set of complete safety but it was great to speak with the students and the lecturers about firearms, ballistics and especially dispel a lot of the Hollywood myths about how firearms are portrayed in the media.
I agreed to the shoot as it was a great opportunity to present the sport of target shooting and firearms how it is and not how some sectors of our society want to see it. The students on the course are now all setting off into the World of media and production and I hope that they all go out into that enormously influential market with a sensible understanding of what target shooting sports are about - safe, fun and utterly unrelated to any idea of causing harm.