You’ve reported on many international clay shooting competitions and events. How did this vocation start for you?
I starting shooting at the age of 8 and have been an enthusiastic follower of the sport ever since. I was looking for a change of career so one day I picked up a camera and took some shots, sent them to a magazine and they liked what they saw and asked for more from me so it started from there. I quickly realised that if you can frame an image you are half way there and if you want to really learn how to use a camera shoot it on manual. I made a lot of mistakes but it’s the best way to learn.
When I started writing articles I would work on a first draft, give it to someone for feedback and then edit and rewrite as necessary but as you get more experienced you get to know what does and doesn’t work. After a while you get a feel for what various publications require and know their different styles. For e.g. American magazines want the emotion and scene setting more than the British mags, often simply because they have more pages and therefore space to play with.
A lot of people though seem to think it’s a glamorous lifestyle, yes I have been to some wonderful places and been lucky enough to meet some amazing people but it is hard work. For example in Dubai or one of the majors in the USA I will usually be at the ground for around 7am, leave there sometimes as late as 11pm and be working in my room till the early hours. At the 2016 World FITASC I walked 17 kms in 90 degree heat on just one of the four days. Do that for a week in extreme temperatures and you really know you have been working hard!
If you work in a niche sport don’t think it’s going to make you rich, you have to do an enormous amount and work for a lot of publications to be able to make a living out of it. If you don’t think you are going to do it for the love of it then do something else instead.
What is your most memorable experience as a reporter?
Working and competing at the Nad Al Sheba Sporting Clays Championship 2014 and 2015. It was in Dubai and the event was held in the middle of the desert. We were treated very well and the hospitality was staggering. It was simply fabulous in every respect.
Anytime when it is dark, cold and wet and I’m trying to keep the camera lens dry!
What advice would you offer someone who wants to write about their sport/hobby?
Write about it as you would want to read it and don’t ramble on!
As a gun dog reporter I have a ‘tool box’ of essentials…dictaphone, camera and flask of tea! What’s in yours Don?
I guess that my "must have" list of kit would be.....
Spare Camera (It hasnt happened to me but I can think of nothing worse than driving 100 miles to find your camera is broken)
Mobile phone (back up camera and voice / video recorder for interviews)
Spare memory card/s
Extreme Weather poncho / Lens cover
Macwet Gloves (the only gloves I have found that I can work camera buttons with)
Ear / eye protection and something to sit on.... (waiting for prize giving can take an eternity....)
A good dose of patience and a creative mind!