I first met Paul at a Winter League shoot at Hull in 2008, he was on the next lane to me and we hit it off straight away.
He was shooting his usual twanger and I just couldn’t believe how I was there with a PCP / all the gear (but a complete novice in ability at the time) and he was there with this infernal spring contraption but he’d hit twice as many as me, I congratulated him at the end of the shoot and he just said “all down to luck Marra!”, not an ounce of arrogance just his infectious laugh which I can still hear today.
I have some really fond memories of Paul but the few that stand out is him being part of the “Turnips on Tour Squadron” at the Worlds in Hungary 2010, we travelled together, myself, Paul, Neil, Calp & Johno.
As we were waiting to go through security at the airport, Paul like a few other shooters do had removed his scope and placed it in his hand luggage to protect it during the flight, it was in his bag when it passed through the x-ray scanner the alarm went off, the female security guard reached into his bag and lift out the 8 x 32 Bushnell wrapped in a towel looked at Paul and said “what do you do for a living ? “which was a random question in itself, he replied “Panel beater love!”, with that she wrapped the scope back up and let him go! It was bizarre, I was wetting myself and so was Paul, think she was looking for the standard “terrorist or assassin” response so Panel Beater must have totally fooled her.
By the way Paul won the Piston / Spring category by demolishing the field, again his unassuming “non arrogant approach” stood out a mile, he’d pumped most PCP shooters as well including me along the way, as well as being “The” nicest guy you would ever meet, boy could he shoot.
We had such a laugh from start to finish with Paul pulling out about two thousand Weihrauch stickers from his bag to which Neil renamed him Weeeeeerach Ninja, which has stuck ever since, these stickers ended up every where and anywhere and Paul’s trade mark “Can’t Se” followed by that infectious laugh really did stick in everyone’s mind.
During the trip Paul came into his own by pulling us all out the do do, we had hired mini bus but it sustained a little off side foreign damage in the car park, we were all panicking about the deposit but Paul scurried of to the Hungarian B&Q coming back with some WD40 and Wet-n-Dry, an hour later it was like show room condition again, Neil asked him how he’d done it, his reply “Can’t Se” but he saved our bacon and our deposit.
It was while we were in Hungary that Paul thought something was wrong health wise. When he returned home he went to the quacks and was diagnosed with bowel cancer but Paul being Paul he battled through it and with his “never moan approach” it didn’t seem to long before he was back (even though 18 months had passed). Off we went on tour again this time to Norway for the Worlds in 2012, myself, Paul, Calp & Gilly all travelled together, Gilly had a budget of £2.75 for the whole trip that included spending money, flights, hotel and biscuits!
Myself and Calp ribbed Gilly from here to next week and more so when his midnight biscuit runs came apparent, Paul just laughed as he always did. On this trip Paul had gun failure which meant he had to borrow Andy Kay’s cannon just to continue in the competition and switch sessions, I remember saying to him “bet you’re disappointed mate that your cannon’s gone tits up?” he replied “No mate, just to be here with you lot in these surroundings is good enough for me”!
That comment in itself sums Paul up in my opinion.
I know Paul’s illness beat him in the end and it’s such a tragic loss but he always remained strong and upbeat, like he was going to fight it, most people would just roll over but not Paul, he was a true fighter, a good laugh, a tremendous shooter and a good friend to everyone he met. This being apparent at his funeral, which was packed to the rafters, think the Vicar was slightly gobsmacked to say the least at the turn out for his send off.
I think anyone who met Paul would ramble on like I’m probably doing but he really was one of the best, R.I.P Paul “Ninja” James, you’ll be sorely missed but never forgotten.
Over & Sprout