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Theodore Roosevelt once said ‘each time we face our fear, we gain strength, confidence and courage in the doing’. Well, this just about sums me up!

I grew up on a farm, going along with my grandfather and uncle when they were rabbiting and was always taught to have a very healthy respect for guns and what they could do. However, I had never ever picked up a gun until I met my husband at college.

I first shot a gun at the age of twenty-two, and let me tell you, it hurt my shoulder, my arms ached (my husband’s 12g was probably not a good choice being half his size!) and to be completely honest, it scared me.

Holding that much power in my control and what could be done with that power, worried me. I, therefore, left it a long old time before I picked up a gun again. Then a 20g came to live in our gun cabinet. Again, I was worried, but I gave it a go and learned that not all guns would hurt me when I shot, especially with 21-gram cartridges.

However, I still had a huge hang-up – that of my own self-confidence and abilities. I would go to a shooting ground with my ever-patient husband and his friends, but I was easily intimidated and always worried that I was holding people up at stands. I would easily give up, and only shoot when there was nobody waiting behind me. But I kept on at it.

So – what changed? I joined a ladies only shooting club and faced my fears. I met a fantastic group of like-minded girls, gained confidence, had a huge bunch of shooting lessons at my local ground.

I went out more with my husband, gained my gun licence and bought a gun – a lovely 12g Berretta I called Billy (who knew a girl my height could use a 12g with no problem!). The time came and I faced my fear and went to shooting grounds and suddenly didn’t worry anymore.

I am the first to admit, I am not the best shot in the world and get bored easily with the repetitiveness of clays. I am awful when I have to think about style, position and I tend to over analyse everything! My real passion (getting back to my roots) is game shooting and I am never happier than when I am stood in a field on a peg, or when I am stood under a tree roost shooting.

And as for my strength, confidence and courage? Well, let’s just say, Theodore Roosevelt was a very astute man.

Ann Marie Gibson

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