Let’s get more girls into shooting
The fact that I have seen so few women shooting has almost discouraged me on occasion. None of my female school friends shoot, and although everyone’s been very supportive, I must say getting into shooting wasn’t easy.
I’ve always been very lucky in that my parents have been very welcoming and willing to teach me to shoot, stalk and fish. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have been brought up with modern values about how we view women in country sports. My dad shoots frequently, we fish every year and stalk on occasion. My mum, on the other hand, although she has shot in the past, (and really enjoys it!) is just never invited out.
However, it’s only recently that I’ve realised the extent of which many of my male friends were given lessons very early, kitted out and sent shooting before they hit 11. They were given access to guns, tweed, smart caps and encouragement from the get-go (to be fair, I’ve had all of this as well!). Interestingly, not one of my female friends has had an even similar route. This is something that I really feel needs to change, and keeping women and young girls interested and up-to-date with shooting and conservation will be vital over the coming years.
You may think, that because I have always been treated the same as the boys in my family, I shouldn’t be writing about this as a real (or perceived?) issue. Actually, because I’ve been out in the field, I can see how women are perceived in shooting especially. I’ve often been greeted with surprised looks or snide comments from my peers and their parents.
Oh, YOU shoot?! Sure you’re cut out for it? Do you want an over-and-under? Isn’t a 20-bore a bit heavy for you?
I was on a shoot in mid-December of this year, (a newly-created syndicate type) and happened to be the first woman to shoot. Everyone was obviously very kind, but seemed surprised when I hit birds, and one of the workers asked if I’d ever shot live quarry before. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, they meant well. I also think that it really shouldn’t be a big deal; I definitely wasn’t offended. I was just rather amused that I was being asked these questions over any of the teenage boys shooting as well.
It’s more important to look where we’re going with this. Just as many women as men beat, yet there are many fewer female keepers and Guns. This should change – for general gender equality, as well as just introducing more people to our wonderful sports. The traditions we uphold are great in many ways, but I feel that to keep them up to date and relevant, we need to really welcome young girls, as well as boys, into everything to do with shooting, conservation and general countryside activities..