A sense of belonging

Female shooter

In honour of International Women’s Day, we share Olympic trap shooter and owner of the The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club Georgina Roberts’ story and vision to increase female participation in shooting sports.

My journey has been a rollercoaster – there have been many highs and lows. I started shooting when I was 17. I had picked up a gun and shot on a few occasions over the years but hadn’t really stuck with it; it had felt like something my father had wanted me to do rather than something I wanted to do for myself. I’d wait for everyone to walk away before I would even consider pulling the trigger, and would only shoot with my father’s friend, Rob, who was incredibly patient with me and took the time to communicate carefully when offering instruction.

My moment of ‘awakening’ happened when my father took me to a charity shoot in Cheshire, where I was able to meet Katie Cowell and her father, Royston. I was in awe of her, a girl, similar age to me, who represented Great Britain at Olympic trap shooting. I’d never heard of Olympic trap and I’d no idea that shooting was an Olympic sport. 

Katie invited me to one of her training days and I fell head over heels for it and the opportunities that it presented. Royston saw this and graciously took me under his wing and helped me get started on my shooting journey. I will always be so grateful to both of them, they made navigating the shooting world so much easier.  

Chasing the dream

I cut my teeth in English skeet, representing Clwyd and Wales before deciding that I wanted to chase my new-found dream of shooting for Great Britain. 

Changing discipline was and always will be hard. It was a difficult transition, moving from being a big fish in a little pond, to a tiny fish in a massive pond (or so it felt at the time). I knew that I wanted more and English skeet wasn’t going to enable me to shoot on an international level. 

I preferred to shoot pre-mounted and at the time I had braces and really struggled to mount the gun during the movement to the target when I tried Olympic skeet. I decided that Olympic trap was the most pain-free way of shooting and that was that. 

Since then, I have been incredibly fortunate to use my platform to champion shooting and sport more broadly, working with charities such as the Mintridge Foundation and Women’s Sport Trust

While these partnerships have been focused on using my sporting journey to help and support others who are in need, particularly young people and women, I have been able to learn and develop on many levels myself.

 The key takeaway for me has been understanding my values and the power of ‘why’, breaking down my ‘why’ into three core pillars, which are to encourage and inspire others, to protect and promote my sport and finally, to strive for greatness. This work has enabled me to recognise my passions and helped me gain clarity on my mission and vision within sport.

An opportunity not to be missed

In 2021, I heard that The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club (S&CBC) was up for sale. I had been a member for a number of years and had been so inspired by Victoria Knowles-Lacks (the club’s founder) who was doing great things for the sport by helping women find a way into shooting. 

I wanted to support this as much as possible. Increasing female participation is something that I have been passionate about for many years and when I heard about the sale, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. 

I’d loved the community that it had created and had been impressed with how the club had played such a significant role for women within shooting. Its far-reaching impact has demonstrated the inclusive nature of the sport and has represented so much for so many, providing an accessible route into shooting while creating a sense of community and belonging. 

Despite S&CBC being established in 2011, at that point in my shooting career I’d never heard of it. I didn’t know that ladies’ shooting groups existed; my pathway into shooting focussed solely on competition and that was all I had known. There were women shooting competitively, but not many. I saw the club as a way to make new female friends within shooting and beyond my discipline

There are tens of thousands of women who have taken their first shot with S&CBC, and I am so impressed with what it has achieved so far. While this is an essential part of the club, I see its future as being much more than that; I want the club to provide that ‘next step’ and support women with their journeys within shooting, enabling them to achieve and succeed, whatever that may look like. 

Georgina with BASC vice chair, Claire Sadler
Protecting the future of the sport

I’m absolutely ecstatic to have BASC support S&CBC in the way that it does. Since the club’s inception in 2011, this relationship has gone from strength to strength, with BASC supporting the club’s relaunch at The Game Fair in 2022, which captivated our audiences brilliantly. I can’t wait to see what the relationship will bring to the table in the future! 

There are many people who question the relevance of ‘ladies’ shooting’ – they ask whether we should be making the distinction at all – and I must admit that I haven’t always been a believer. However, I have always been highly motivated to increase female participation. Ladies’ shooting clubs such as S&CBC enable us to do that. 

As shooters, regardless of gender, we all have a duty to protect the future of the sport. It is essential that we do, both at national and international levels. 

This article appeared in the March/April edition of Shooting and Conservation Magazine.