In April this year, many young farmers came together at clay grounds around England and Wales for the county competitions. With lots keen to get back to shooting after the end of the game season, the turnouts were really good. Members ranging from as young as ten to 26 competed in their respective groups. Everyone had the same goal – to qualify for the national finals. I was one of those keen competitors.
I was keen to start competing after I got my grandfather’s Adanac, a side-by-side 20 bore with 28-inch barrels and fixed chokes, on my birthday last year. It came with a box of Hull high pheasant extreme cartridges. I got my first rabbit with it while walking through some of our fields. I carried on shooting pigeons and rabbits and slowly gathered experience. I then decided to enter the clay competition…
When I arrived at the qualifiers with two boxes of Hull cartridges and my Adanac, I saw an array of people all with over-and-under shotguns and instantly felt out of place. But I got my card and went to the stand I felt most comfortable with first. It was a steady crosser left to right and then right to left. I watched the people before me and began to feel nervous. They all came out with really mixed results. When it was my turn, I just breathed and tried to relax… It seemed to work as I shot the first pair. I gained confidence afterwards and got results I was proud of on the rest of the stands. I finished the day in the top three for under 18s! This meant that I had a place at the national championships!
I then joined my local clay club and carried on with clay shooting every few weeks (if my cartridge supply allowed). I wanted to practice as much as possible to get ready for the championships.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the time passed and I suddenly found myself travelling from North Yorkshire down to Oak Edge Shooting Ground at Stafford.
I arrived feeling nervous but quickly relaxed after hitting a few practice clays. I then carried on the day on great form, achieving good results. I paid no attention to my competitors who kept changing chokes and cartridges on each stand.
In the end, I came 12th in the under 18s group. I was very pleased with my achievement – in the end I was still new to shooting. The whole experience has taught me not to be afraid of giving new things a go. You never know where you might end up!