Duck Shoot

May 18, 2007 at 9:39 am | Posted in family, tales of youth | 46 Comments

Many of you know I like to play up my penniless youth. Though I never really went hungry (except between the hours of 7pm and 6pm), we often had to do without the gadgets of the day. Where some kids had water pistols, I had a stick. Where some had footballs, I had a rock. Many of my friends had bicycles; I had a stick. It was awful hard keeping up with them.

I jest, of course. Things were never that dire.

When Nintendo was all the rage (imagine, the old 8-bit NES once cost more than the PS2 does now), when you were nothing if you didn’t have the Mario Bros/Duck Hunt cartridge and the light gun, I had to content myself by playing a real-life version of Duck Hunt. I called it Duck Shoot. See what I did there?

No blocky 2-D pixellated images and dodgy sound effects in my game, mind you. This was the real deal. Duck Shoot involved my sisters walking back and forth in front of my granny’s garden wall while I belted a football at them. If I hit them, which happened often, since I was usually no more than five or six feet away, they had to make the sound of a duck getting killed. It was a great game, enjoyed by everyone, but especially me.

Here’s how a typical game of Duck Shoot might start:

“C’mon we play some Duck Shoot, girls.”

“Nooooooo Kav, our legs are still bruised from last week.”

“Come on ye fuckin spastics or I’ll kill ye!”

“We’ll tell Granny if you kill us.”

At this point it may have been necessary for me to approach a sister with arm raised and fist clenched, to emphasise how much I wanted to play the game. The vehemence of my desire to play was usually clarified by me saying

“Line up against that fuckin wall or I’ll hop yer fuckin head off the kerb, ya little spastic.”

My sisters and I would then enjoy a sibling bonding session where I lashed a football at them as hard as I could, while they did their best to dodge it. They were, pardon the expression, sitting ducks.

One typical summer’s day, I was, as usual, hanging around outside my granny’s house kicking a ball. (A huge swathe of my childhood consisted of kicking a ball outside my granny’s house, outside my own house, or with the lads, on a decrepit pitch in Galway called “The Plots”.) At the top of the road I spotted my sister Lorna skipping down the road towards granny’s. Scowling with disdain – at that age, the mere sight of my sisters prompted this emotion, even if they’d done nothing to provoke me – I waited until she was passing me, and then gently, with a touch Liam Brady’d have been jealous of, I slotted the ball between her legs.

For a long, quiet moment, she flew. I’d say she travelled about six feet or so, then hit the pavement knees first. Her momentum dragged her along the path another five or six feet before she collapsed in a glut of screams and blood. Her legs at the knees looked like someone had take a potato peeler to them.

My Granny was standing right next to me when I did it. It’s the only time she ever hit me. I remember her words as she struck me: “You horrible, evil little boy!”. I ran into the house and locked myself into the toilet and cried, riddled with shame.

The next two weeks were peppered with comments about how Lorna’d never be able to be a model with scars like that – this despite that she’d never before expressed the desire to be a model – and what a little bastard I was. Who knows if she’d have gone on to be a model or not? The point was that what I did to her had cut off that choice to her (or at least it seemed to at the time), and I still burn when I think of it.

I don’t think we played Duck Shoot again after that.

What about you? Ever done something awful and irreversible to your siblings?

Have a splendid weekend.



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  1. This blog is one long therapy session, you nasty evil little cunt!

    I kid. I did similar things but I’ve buried them deep in my subconscious never to be resurrected for fear of unleashing the self-loathing demon.

  2. You had two sticks? Lucky feker. I only had one – and I had to share that.

  3. Blarneyman: Jesus, and you lot are my therapists. I’m off to kill myself.
    sneezy: What do you think we were, royalty? It was the one stick. Depending on what game we were playing, I’d use different ends of it.

  4. And how does that make you feel?

  5. I didn’t-they’d have killed me- but a very good friend of mine cut his sister’s pony tail off one day. She was about eleven and he was about nine. She was eating jam sambos at the kitchen table and he had been cutting coupons for a Rice Crispy alarm clock when he said he was just hit by a moment of madness and snip! about a foot of hair still in a pony tail shape fell on the floor.
    He didn’t sit for a week after that.

  6. Kav, yer evil little fecker. I once stole a green triangle quality street from my brother – I gave it back be3cause I felt so bad

  7. My brother being three years older than I am was taking his O Levels when I just entered secondary school. My ma told him to watch out for me and made him take me to school, but soon as we were out of sight he made sure I walked a block behind him and told me to tell no one I was his sis.

    Four years later when I graduated and my ma came to my award ceremony my teachers realised we were siblings. Exclamations of “who’d have thought it” and “why didn’t you tell us you little bugger” resounded.

    My ma whacked me for being ashamed of my brother.

    I still don’t tell anyone he’s my brother – he’s 30 now and a famous artist and when he comes back to the home country he doesn’t ring my parents or visit them. Cunt!

  8. There are tears on my face at the thought of your sisters walking back and forth like ducks. My God you were a muppet but a nice muppet.

  9. I like the sound of that game.

    I once fractured my sister’s skull in a race for the lav. Accidentally bounced her head off the sink, I was only about six at the time.

    Oh, and I put a soft spot in my brother’s skull – pulled one of his legs up at an inopportune moment and he landed on one of those old metal weights you’d use on traditional scales.

    Apart from that, we were all lovely to each other…

  10. Off topic: You’re a superstar. Thanks.

    On topic: You’re a superstar. I put the head of one of my sisters through a window once, and yes it was attached to her body, but I’ll save it for a post myself. And a cartoon possibly.

    But just so you know, she really was asking for it.

  11. blarneyman: Dunno. Kinda horny, maybe.
    Cat: while undoubtedly a serious event at the time, at least the girl suffered no long-lasting effects from the trauma.
    Sid: You must’ve got on pretty well then. Me and mine fought like cats and dogs.
    E: Welcome along, I like it. That’s how siblings ought to treat one another. Oooh, who is your brother? Is he really a cunt?
    flirty: We fought a lot, but thankfully we’re much closer now. I was more of a Sesame Street character than a muppet.
    badgerdaddy: You’ve done fairly well for yourself, haven’t you? I never managed to break any of their bones, tried though I may have.
    Eolaí: Had to rescue you from spam. I’m not sure what you’re thanking me for, but no problem. I look forward to the post.

  12. Okay, okay …

    I was about 11. I took my 3 year old cousin for a spin in his buggy, racing around, and made a ramp with a board and ran down the hill at top speed (fully expecting us to leap through the air all Evel Knevel like. He was loving it too and I thought I was cool, until we hit the ramp. We may as well have hit a wall. The buggy bellyflopped the ground and I cartwheeled over it.

    My aunt nearly knocked me into next week. It’s grand when it’s your own family, but when do that to your relatives they have no reason to really forgive you. He was fine, but I was emotionally scarred for life.

  13. Good stuff blarneyman, that’s what childhood was made for.

  14. I pushed a pram containing my little sister through the floor length window beside the front door while making formula one noises! she woke up and I got into trouble. she used to be a bitch for getting me into trouble. How are Lorna’s knees these days?

  15. My two elder brothers used to have to mind me when I was about three years you can imagine this played havoc with their own playtime (they were about ten). They had to keep their eyes on me all of the time because our house backed onto the river Liffey with a very steep bank rolling right down to it.
    They came up with an ingenius plan one day and never needed to worry about me either drowning or interrupting their games again.
    They’d tie me to a tree, go and play and then come back when they were done.
    Sweet boys.

  16. We moved to Wexford when I was 6 and the younger brother was 3, the back garden was a wilderness in the house in Wexford and the brother used to cling to my side like a leech, of course this used to annoy the shit out of me, or so I think I remember. We were knocking down nettles with bits of iron bars we found, I was swinging like a golf pro and connected with the brothers head, he had to get stitches. I was balling more than him, I thought I’d killed him there was so much blood. He survived but has a nice scar to this day above his eye, and he is a bit touched, don’t know if thats my fault or genetic.

  17. That was the funniest story I’ve read in a long time. People are giving me weird looks here at work because I’m laughing so hard.

  18. My siblings were in their teens when I came along.

    My sister, however, dropped me out my pram onto my head. Which explains a lot.

  19. My brother and I used to chase each other around the house while fighting, grabbing anything we could use on each other… broomsticks, my baton, scissors, knives. It was brutal.

    Heh. We’re pretty close these days… Now we just trade word barbs and remind each other of when we were so awful.

    ahh, memories. 😉

  20. We were poor growing up. I mean it was nearly Dickensian. My younger sister was a violent little bitch who bullied me relentlessly. She’s a cop today, naturally.
    Anyway, she had a loose tooth once that she kept wiggling because she wanted the dollar she would get for it from the “tooth fairy.” So I offered to help her by holding her down and extracting it with pliers for a portion of the cut. She screamed and it was bloody. There was a bit of chunky stuff at the root of it.

  21. I once tried to walk along with top of the wall at the back of our house with our dog on a lead. Turns out that dogs can’t walk on top of walls. Poor thing nearly choked to death and never looked at me the same way again.

  22. galwaywegian: I love the way you wrote “she woke up” as if that was the reason you got into trouble. Haha. Lorna’s fine these days, though she still has scars and still harbours a grudge.
    is it just me: I roared laughing at that, because it sounds exactly like something I’d have done to my sisters.
    tim: Heh, good one. My sister has a scar from when she fell over he schoolbag and bashed her head against the wall. The only reason I didn’t get battered for that one is because I was outside playing football at the time. If I’d been in the house, I’d have been blamed for it even though it was her own clumsiness that caused it.
    Debbie: Glad to have brightened up your day. You should say you’re laughing because it’s Friday. That’ll really freak them out.
    MJ: It explains a lot, but not enough. There’s still so much I’ve yet to discover.
    Miss B: Lorna used to lose the plot something awful. When she flew into a rage, any hope of rationality went out the window. I could’ve been killed a few times.
    Medbh: Jesus you just made me cringe. That’s fucking horrible.
    Conor: Haha, brilliant. Isn’t it weird the stupid shite that comes into your head as a kid?

    Keep the stories coming lads, this is hilarious.

  23. We had a Jack Russell terrier, Gus. I used to tip a 9volt square battery to his nose when he slept. Mildly shocking it. It used to bring tears to my eyes because he was such a cranky little dog and the bemusement on his face as he licked his nose was so funny.

    I’m very ashamed of this. But I was 10.

    He bit me on the nose once though and it bled like The Shining. Some would say it was deserved. Others would say it was well deserved.

  24. My sibling torture was more psychological than physical. I used to break things or do stuff I wasn’t supposed to do and Mam would make us both sit at the table until someone admitted who did it and thus get punished. Knowing the little brother had zero patience we would sit there for about five minutes before he admitted to my wrong doing just to get up from the table. Mwahahaha! 😉

  25. lmao… well, seems i wasn’t such a shameful child afterall… *giggle*

    medbh – ew. *gag* hehe…

  26. Sounds like big brothers are the same the whole world ’round!


  27. My brother was annoying me by being alive so I punched him and he chased me to my room where I slammed the door shut on him, the fingertip part of him, which fell off. He ran off screaming and when I opened the door it was to a scene of horrible blood-smeared mess all over the walls and carpet and all the way down the stairs. My dad put the fingertip in a tobacco tin but they couldn’t sew it back on. It grew back – ish – (although it was a year before he got a fingernail back there) but it was always more sensitive than his other fingers and he blames me entirely for his failing to become a word class bass-player.

    I didn’t even get the row for it because I was such a horrible shade of greyish white for the rest of the day and wept with terrible remorse when he got home from hospital.

  28. I remember playing football outside our house. We wisely played against a wall with a window in the middle of it. I only broke it once. I nutmegged my neighbour and then let fly with a bullet of a ball towards my brother who was in goal. I watched as he simply stepped out of the way and let the ball go through the window, then split his sides laughing. He had trouble walking for a week after that.

  29. Sorry. Only back now. It was the one stick. Depending on what game we were playing, I’d use different ends of it. You were still lucky, Kav. The stick I had, had only one end. And no middle – the auld lad used that to make a clothes line for the family hankie. When I was just 6, the mother used the end of the stick to stuff the Christmas rabbit. I didn’t have anything to play with until puberty.

    Rich feker!

  30. There’s more…after I became old enough not to need to be tied to the tree and the brothers got too old to mind the annoying thing with the pigtails..the job passed on to my elder sister.I really must have been an annoying clingy little git because she spent most of her time tryng to avoid me too.So knowing that she’d have to take care of me if I followed her about I did….all the time..One day my dad and a couple of friends spent a whole day building a new boundary wall around our house.They did a spectacular job and stood around for about an hour with cans of guinness admiring the wall afterward.He even hung little signs on the wall to remind us not to go near it until it had set.My sister, deciding she’d had enough of me for one day snuck into our neighbours house to play with her friend.I knew this and decided to follow.I walked down the drive, out the gate, up the road and into and up their driveway.I knocked on the door and the girl in question answered and said my sister wasn’t there..I think I realised at that point that I’d need to start making my own friends..(can you tell whats coming?) not thinking, I climbed the boundary wall to get home and cry to my Daddy..yep the WHOLE wall fell down! most of it on me.My dad came runnning out of the house and picked me up, all the time shouting about the wall and checked me out..I appeared to be fine.
    next morning my mam (who’d been staying with a friend) came into my room to call me for school.
    I spent the morning being covered in plaster for two fractures in my leg..I’d been fine the night before..even walked to brush my teeth with no pain at all (shock maybe?)but I had to spend the entire summer in plaster from my toes to my hip…I was spoilt rotten and when the plaster was removed, stopped following my brothers and sisters around..

  31. In general, I was a good older sister, but I do recall making up some stupid songs about her that made her cry and singing them often. I didn’t scar her physically, but I inflicted some mental wounds.

    I also got her drunk for the first time and took her to her first rock concert without our parents finding out. She loves me.

  32. I was having a jolly time on the swingset in the back yard, while my older sis gamboled around the pear tree. it was such an idyllic, sickening hall mark kind of scene. Dad got home and being the loving father he was headed straight out the back door to cuddle his adorable daughters. Sis ran for him, and I just happened to be in the downswing, legs pumping straight out for extra distance. Long story short, I kicked out 10 of her teeth, and she ended up being the only six year old with partial dentures till her adult teeth started growing in. I cried for days, and to this day can’t stand to hear anyone crack their knuckles or neck. Sounds just like the crunch of ten little baby teeth making a bid for freedom. she got back at me later by making me so angry one night i gritted my teeth hard enough to break two of them.

  33. Dropped my brother when he was a baby. I was about three and a half, he would have been about six months. Sat on my knee for a photo shoot at nursery and I just..dropped him. Can’t remember if I lost my grip or what….. Look, he hadn’t been dropped on his head yet, I was just making sure.

    Also whacked my brother with a hair brush for which I got leathered…..

    Let me see….I’m sure there were other things I did to him. A war crimes tribunal would be in order methinks…..

  34. Ya big meanie!

    But you did open her up to a world of possible lesbianism, which I think would be much more beneficial. After all, chicks apparently dig scars.

  35. Having a real shortage of any sporting facilites we’d make do with a pile of stones or a jacket to mark out goal posts.
    During one of our serial football matches on the street (they’d go for days sometimes “First team to 100 wins!” a near miss (snarf) knocked our cairn all over the place.I was scrambling to put it back together and just tossed a half-brick over my shoulder in the general direction of the pile.
    It took a hop off my brother’s head first though.When he chased me down to apply a kicking I was laughing so hard I didn’t feel a thing.

  36. “I still don’t tell anyone he’s my brother” – nah Kav, not telling ya, and yes, he really IS a cunt

  37. Was reading that and laughed out loud, my son (age 20) enquired about what I found so amusing. I read it to him and he creased up laughing and said … “thats effin belter!”
    I think he approves of sibling torture.

  38. The cat vomited in my dads car (long story how it got there) but I told him my brother had done it when he drove it home drunk the night before.
    He never was allowed to drive it again. Muahaha!

  39. My younger brother is a massive cunt, to this very day, and when we were growing up, I used psychological warfare on him like you would not believe. The CIA are amateurs, I tell you.

    I once tricked him into getting out of the shower and going to the front door in only a towel, and then shoved him out the door, ripped the towel off him, and locked him out. He had to go to the neighbor’s house across the street stark naked and borrow clothes. This was after the entire group of neighborhood kids saw him, of course.

    No, my parents weren’t home. They worked a lot. And as long as there were no marks on him, I never got beat, hahaha.

  40. Blarneyman: Aha! Coming off all sweetness and light when really you were an evil fecker.
    Deborah: That’s a cunning strategy. If my sisters tried that I probably would’ve walloped them once my parents left the room. I was an awful brother.
    Miss B: There must be some skeletons in your closet…go on.
    Lela: I always thought I was particularly bad, but perhaps you’re right.
    Sam: Now that’s a story. I went a bit grey myself reading that.
    Barry: Haha! Classic.
    Sneezy: Christmas rabbit – I don’t know why but that made me roar laughing.
    Is it: Jesus, that’s mental – did your legs set properly after such a trauma? I think it was probably wise to stop following them around after that…
    Sassy: You sound like a good sister – I never did anything for mine when we were kids, except thump them and call them names.
    taihae: That’s horrible, but at least it happened to her baby teeth and not her adult ones! Good to see you by the way – are you back?
    Ill Man: Nice work. I presume that gets brought up any time he does something stupid now?
    Phishez: Nah, she’s scared of lesbians. I know this because I met her on a night out once and she said some girl tried to snog her and she had a fit about it.
    Devin: My sister hopped a stone off my head when we were kids too. We never figured out how she did it because I was standing behind her and she threw the stone forward – must’ve had boomerang effects.
    E: Ah well, at least tell me if I might have heard of him. I don’t know much about art mind you. I know a lot of cunts though.
    Ellie: Excellent, I aim to please.
    steph: That is feckin evil, missus. I love it.
    slim: You big meanie, that’s terrible. Is he really that cuntish? (Okay, my real response is “fucking excellent, wish I’d been clever enough to use those kinds of tricks”.)

  41. We used play that on my road but we called it cannon ball. That was before neighbours started threatening young children with the guards for playing ball in a cul de sac. Actually come to think of it they threatened me with the Guards when I was playing soccer as well

  42. Heh, calling the guards for playing football…I bet they were right on that case.

  43. I am the baby of the family so never got to play havoc with siblings, who, by the way, are ancient. So I took it out of my nephews instead. When I was about 11 and my nephew was 2, I kicked him just under his eye while I was babysiting. It turned a loveely blue/purple colour. I got killed for ha by my siser. Another time I was kicking a football to my other nephew in their hallway. I kicked the ball too high, broke the glass lamp shade which landed on my younger nephews head. Blood everywhere. I got killed for that. Fairly recently, I was on my 11 years old trampoline with him, when, for the craic. I decided to throw him out of it. He broke his thumb. I got dirty looks for tha (I’m too old to be killed nowadays). And a few months ago, I was playing ‘soccar’ with my 7 year old niece, I aimed the ball into the net, she put up her hand to catch it, and broke a bone in her wrist. Dirty looks all round. No wonder I was nicknamed Louise Woodward.

  44. Being the youngest of two it fell to me to be the victim rather than the perp. So it was my lot in life to be psychologically tortured until the day I turned… there was a breadknife, that much I do recall…

  45. Flutt, you were a right pup altogether, weren’t you? Taking out all that repressed anger on the defenceless…

    Conan, is that where you got the nervous eye twitch from?

  46. I plead the 5th. And if there’s no Irish/Scottish equivalent of that…then I think someone has some legislation to pass.

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