'I expect we'll only stay for about three hours,' he says.
By chuck-out time, with a slew of top scores and compliments from stocky, jocular gunfolk, Peter is considering taking up long-range precision shooting, joining the Artists' Rifles club, converting a derelict building in the grounds into a house for himself, and inviting friends to attend the imminent weekend of Northern soul, indie, motown and ska in the Bisley Pavilion.
The echoes of gunshots around the sunlit downs make a beautiful looping shape. 'Like ripping air,' says Peter.
Peter asks his instructor, 'Would I be better off in reading glasses?'
Then he scores straight A's. He says he was talent-spotted when he spent a few weeks in the army cadets at the age of 14 but hasn't shot since.
The randomly percussive, out-of-tune speed steels are pure John Cage. You have to hit five pocked metal circles (ping! toing! plink!) in a second or two with discreetly dainty ammo favoured by the Mafia. While Peter is nailing this, I sketch.
I take up a more advantageous position. On a grassy knoll. The boss man, who has Steve Smoothy printed on his polo shirt, moves towards me slowly, avoiding eye-contact, as you would when approaching an animal.
'It's OK, I'm a blogger,' I say, waving my unconvincing sketch book, guilty of social drawing. He explains kindly that my behaviour looks suspicious.
The place is awash with bars, cafes, eccentrically improvised club-houses and bungalows nostalgic for the Raj. 'Ooh look, there's a mop on that roof,' says Peter.
|Can you spot the rooftop mop like sharp-eyed Peter? |
Or indeed the architectural influences?
We don't discover the classic and historic firearms section until it's too late.