Of course, as a jobbing bureaucrat, weapons training is not part of my day to day activity. However, one should never turn down an opportunity to gain new skills. And so it was that I found myself in the Elveden Forest on Saturday afternoon, with a crossbow in one hand and a bolt in the other.
My stepdaughter Sally and her fiance, Brij, had graciously invited Ros and I to spend a day with them at Centre Parcs, with some activity involved, and they thought that some archery would be nice. So, into the car we got, and Ros drove across Suffolk until we reached Elveden.
Presenting ourselves at the archery range, we were taken through the finer points of shooting apples perched on people's heads (basically, the advice is not to do it, especially with your own children...). Next, we were taught how to load a crossbow, something which is more difficult than it looks, given that the draw is about 100 pounds. A bit of safety advice, and we were off. To spice things up, after three fairly wild practice shots, we were set to compete against each other, and the other four participants.
It turns out that I'm pretty good, scoring 46 out of 60 with my twelve bolts. Once I'd mastered the recoil and made some adjustments, I would be likely to wound you quite badly three times out of four, although I'd need you to be at fairly close range and not moving about too much.
Meanwhile, Ros was getting steadily better as she mastered the equipment. I think that, as a baroness, she should have a crossbow, as a broadsword is really difficult to drag around, and doesn't fit neatly in a handbag... something in red, perhaps?