Let me introduce myself, I live with my husband in a small hamlet of seventeen houses in Hampshire. I’m the third generation to live in my house, which is next door to the house I was born in. I’m most definitely a country girl through and through.
Both my Grandfathers (and further back) were gamekeepers so I grew up around shooting and it just seemed natural to me from a very early age. I honed my shooting skills with a .410 before being trusted with a 12g.
Needless to say my childhood heroine was Annie Oakley!
Together with my husband, I’m out every weekend shooting clays with my treasured Beretta DT10L and keep the vermin down in the garden in between.
My vehicle of choice is, of course, my trusty Landy. And, yes, she does have a personalised number plate featuring the letters G U and N! I used to follow hounds but no longer have horses and I also did a bit of eventing, dressage and showing in side saddle classes.
Apart from the odd open competition at one of our favourite clay grounds (where I managed to retain the Ladies High Gun trophy last month with a very respectable 53/60!) I don’t compete and I wouldn’t want to get into serious competing – only against myself and a bit of good-natured competitiveness with my husband.
Now, we all heard the joke that us ladies take ages to get ready, but not me, I never wear make-up; as long as my hair looks reasonably tidy and won’t get in my eyes when I shoot then I’m done. But I will confess to having one “girly” weakness – my nails are reasonably long and usually sporting a fairly vivid colour!
Why do I shoot?
I enjoy being outdoors, meeting great people, spending time doing something I love with someone I love and sometimes I even get to shoot my own dinner! A bad days shooting beats a good day at the office every time for me.
And my bête noir? It really annoys me the way that townies think they can dictate what happens in the countryside with little or no knowledge of the true facts. They want to ban game shooting but don’t realise how much conservation work shoots carry out. The time to recognise the enormous amount of conservation work and land stewardship that all game shoots carry out is long overdue.
The real countryside is, to quote that old cliché, red in tooth and claw – and bears little resemblance to Countryfile!
If you’re not prepared to get your facts right or even come and try our country pursuits then keep quiet. Ok, rant over!
Lastly, what would I say to any ladies who are thinking about “having a go?” Simple – you’re never too old or too young.
Don’t be afraid to pick up a gun. But don’t be surprised if you can’t shoot your partner’s/parent’s gun so book a few lessons at a good shooting school, they’ll give you a gun you can comfortably shoot and which roughly fits. They’ll teach you gun mount and correct stance so you don’t get a kick in the shoulder and/or a bruised cheek. And most importantly, they’ll make sure you are a safe shot.
And remember you can still shoot if you’re a vegetarian you know – you can stick to clay shooting, you don’t have to shoot live quarry.