What’s in a Name? The story behind Black Sheep Straight Shooter

By Black Sheep Straight Shooter and Greg Hamilton
April 25, 2024


7 min read

Toward the end of primary school and all through high school my nickname was Lamby. Some primary school friends still call me Lamby today, 30 years on. This nickname came about due to my very tight curly blonde hair that looked like lambs wool when I was about 12. I had a few friends put a pencil case full of pencils through my tight curls and the nickname caught on. I owned it and developed a book tag graffiti as well. I now shave my head regularly (because I get cranky when my hair touches my ears).

Growing up my brother was more the black sheep than myself. I tended to draw positive attention by excelling at academics and athletics whereas he got negative attention through acting out and getting in trouble. I often wonder in retrospect if he’d tried to stand out in a good way and kept getting overshadowed by myself.  So, he just did what worked instead. I have heard others refer to him as the black sheep when I had my nickname Lamby. I was fiercely independent growing up. I was the kind of young adult who could go out by myself and dance for 3hrs straight at a rave without drugs. Yet I did all the typical young person silly stuff with drugs and alcohol and driving beyond my talent (Celica, rolled roof first into a tree thinking I was Colin McRae). I am the Black Sheep of the family nowadays and often have my choices judged and challenged by family. I’m ok with that. I now see through the mainstream bullshit.

To me, the term black sheep means someone who doesn’t fit in and stands out from the crowd in an obvious way with perhaps a socially fringe connotation. Knowing what I know now from my freedom from self-sabotage coaching, going along to get along and fitting in with the crowd isn’t really my thing anyway. I do care what people think about me to an extent and respect their opinion, but it is my choice on how it affects me and what sort of attention others get from me.

An approximate sheep quote from whom I can’t remember, (beg my pardon)

“The sheep needn’t fear the wolf, it is the shepherd who they should be wary of”.

I interpret this in a few ways.

First yes, a wolf, fox, eagle, parasite or other predator may take a sheep or a lamb and this is the natural order of things. A farmed sheep has lost its wild and will to be free. The shepherd will harvest flesh or fleece and is a farmed commodity. The sheep is confined to its flat feed paddock, with maybe a water trough or dam and minimal trees for shade if the paddock is rotated during cropping. The ram is bought in for one job then taken away (go Cecil from footrot Flats!) During lambing the dreaded fox will slip through the sheep proof fence then circle a lamb usually at night, then segregate the lamb from its mother. Once killed the fox will take a small meal of lamb due to its small gut volume, shred a bit more meat off, then cache it and come back for quite a few trips. So once the kill has occurred the rest of the flock can’t get through the fence to escape but they know to stay away from the kill site. The flock has learnt that the threat will keep coming back and does what it can to avoid a hungry predator. I imagine there is an incredible fear and unease amongst the flock after the lambing birthing smells. A farmed sheep may run from the ute and muster truck but it knows it cannot escape. I doubt the sheep even realize the shepherd (government) does not have their best interests at heart and that they (the people) are being farmed. When the sheepdog kelpie comes running in, the flock doesn’t know if it’s haircut time or abattoir time.

The lesson here is if you are bred into captivity you may never know truly roaming free. City walls, property boundaries, immigration offices, student debt, home loan, career, parenthood and maybe even NEVER finding your tribe? If only sheep could form a sheep pyramid and learn to jump off of each other’s backs and over fences hey? The predator and bully will target the weakest individuals and knows how to divide and conquer. If you are standing out away from the herd it is very uncomfortable. The trick is to embrace the discomfort and get stronger and faster physically, mentally and spiritually. There is nothing more savage than a man who has nothing to lose or a woman who is forced to defend with her maternal instincts.

I, myself have hunted an old wild bush ram with full curl horns on public land state forest legally with a friend of mine about a year ago. A wild ram is a completely different beast than a domesticated sheep in a paddock that lives a life for its wool or flesh.

On this rare opportunity locally (we were chasing goats), we followed its tracks for a few hours and after each very brief glimpse it busted us and was gone. We only saw it stationary twice. My friend is a weapon tracker. I’d stand on the last known tracks then he’d scout ahead looking down and pick up the tracks again over brush, then I’d leapfrog and we’d pepper pot our way along. I would keep my eyes toward the horizon looking for movement the whole time. My friend had his fitness tracking watch on and it turned out after the shot we had tacked the ram for about 13km with us literally being run around in a massive circle.

Wild sheep of all species, especially in high backcountry settings are incredibly wily. They can disappear over ridges and into blind dead or climb high up to keep a predator out of range but still in sight. They are still predated in the wild but hunting conservation and tag systems mean that hunting opportunities are incredibly rare and some hunters may never draw a lottery tag, even in a lifetime. Others may draw the tag but still have to pay $200k plus for even a narrow season with a guide over some of the harshest terrain known to man, often in far away lands. Pretty cool adventure in my eyes.

Some people like to use the analogy of the sheepdog as a protector to keep predators away. I don’t see it that way. To me, the sheepdog keeps the sheep knowing they are domesticated and will be rounded up of the sheepdog’s own accord or shepherd’s whistle. There are also plenty of sheep that will hold others down toward the bottom of the crab bucket. People’s belief in authority for governance and control whilst asking permission on how to live their life is disheartening to me. It is incredibly brave and liberating to not fit into the herd or flock. It is also very unnatural and excessively vulnerable to most people. Read – uncomfortable. Critical thinking and being self sufficient without ‘the system’ has the potential to be incredibly empowering. Yet others put their non-calloused clean welfare hand out and earn their mediocrity badge.

I have been shooting on and off for about twenty years. For me the original appeal was hunting. Then I realized hunting without public land access or private property invitation was incredibly difficult and not much shooting would happen. I joined some culling and conservation groups and got out field that way. It was a good start to learning the craft. But these trips were very few and far between. So I started competition shooting. Then even more challenging competition shooting which lead to cross-country find the target on demand events overseas.

Competition shooting is a great way for you to be shown your own marksmanship weaknesses. It is also a great way to get trigger time and have a reason to want to excel at the craft. The shot timer adds artificial stress and helps you learn your gear and to perform on demand. For a long time you believe people watching you care about your performance – but the truth is they really don’t. They care about their own performance relative to you, or if they are in the mastery stages of their career – themselves. However, this lesson is only really truly learnt when you get to the mastery stage yourself. The competition scene has a trap. With a continual building of skill and unconscious competence, the competitive shooter will concern themselves more with outcome and podium finishes, rather than the joy they once had. At least this is the case for myself. Getting truly good at something – especially shooting is incredibly addictive. I now prefer to compete without scoring. This plus focussed, very deliberate drills. This all in an effort to develop confidence for field shooting. And hunting.

About 13 years ago the Australian Army shooting team coach at the Australian Army Skill at Arms shooting meeting, (a multinational month-long military shooting competition), held a casual seminar. He wouldn’t let his team drink alcohol or caffeine leading up to and during the shoot. The reasoning was that it affected the shooting too much. After the international  event I decided to give it a go. I abstained from caffeine and alcohol for a month, then did a test. Shooting long range F-Class (prone bipod with a Sako TRG22 in 308WIN, I think 800m) I shot 2 sighters plus 10 for score about roughly my typical average score. I then had at least half a litre of popular caffeinated energy drink, waited half an hour then shot again. The stimulation didn’t seem to affect me in score, focus, shakiness or otherwise. I scored the same score as not stimulated. I didn’t get the hint and missed the point. Poisoning yourself with caffeine and alcohol isn’t a one-off thing and the effects are cumulative. On that day I also didn’t test not having the stimulants when I was used to them or coming down off the sugar and caffeine shortly afterward. Recently I was addicted to caffeine and the highlight of my day was a barista made big coffee in a takeaway cup. It was a problem. I had some guidance and read Stephen Cherniske’s – Caffeine Blues book and have been caffeine free for nearly a year. I am also trying to look after myself and prioritize sleep. I opt for a pot of peppermint tea if I am having breakfast with the family at a café nowadays.

So the Straight Shooter is about being ‘straight’ and un-poisoned. Talking Straight and being very blunt and direct, saying things the way they are. And shooting true – straight (in and arc with gravity and wind and spin drift / Coriolis).

I know professionals talk software, amateurs talk hardware (thanks Lt Col ret Dave Grosman of ‘On Hunting’). I know how much mental game and psychology is involved with shooting. This and self-image and self-talk and self-sabotage.  I also know how much lifestyle effects performance on and off the range. The hot tip is – the more healthy you are physically spiritually and mentally – the better your shooting will be. Your full mental capacity, confidence in yourself and your gear is what will set you apart from the rest. Another saying is a good shooter can do more with less – but a truly great shooter will be well ahead of the competition if their mind is clear and free from self-sabotage in all its forms. Becoming healthy and the best version of yourself will enable you to better deal with whatever stress comes your way.

Are you going to do what everyone else does or are you going to be the Black Sheep?

Are you going to Shoot Straight?