Having been brought up around country sports, I spent many a weekend as a child accompanying my Dad as a beater at various shoots. As I got older though I started to begrudge giving up my weekends and as a teenager, I quickly lost interest in all thing’s country!
Over the last five years, I’ve found myself once again gravitating back to my roots and enjoying the countryside. A few years ago, much to the surprise of my Dad, I willingly chose to spend the day at his syndicate Christmas shoot. I ended up spending the day doing more walking and chatting than anything else, occasionally being sent to pick up a few birds and finishing it off by taking a tumble into a pile of sheep poo…and they say country life isn’t glamorous!
Not having been put off, I went back again the next year, splitting the day between picking up with Mum and walking the drives with Dad. With another eventful day under my belt, this time taking a rather large falling bird to the backside…that’s a story for another day, and apparently it doesn’t happen as often you’d think – I started to consider whether this was a sport that I wanted to get more actively involved in (revenge was not my main motivation…honest!).
As a starting point, I asked Dad if he would take me out to try some clays and see how I got on, after all, I figure I had to find out if I could even hit a moving target!
So that’s how I found myself, in the depths of winter 2017 standing in a snowy field in Scotland, having some father/daughter bonding time and trying my hand at clay pigeon shooting!
We started with a 20 bore and Dad gave me a few pointers to get me going… none of which I seemed capable of remembering within five minutes of him walking back to the trap! Once I got my eye in I actually found that I wasn’t too bad a shot and was surprised at how much I was enjoying myself. A few more pointers from Dad kept me on my toes the rest of the day, along the lines of ‘don’t wait so long’…’I wouldn’t have taken that shot’ and ‘were you even trying to hit that?’ Got to love that father/daughter bonding!
Almost twelve months later I have finally built up the courage to look into taking up the sport properly. I’d spoken to Dad at length about this going back and forth in my head between wanting to try and then talking myself out of it. Dad was great and discussed the practicalities, the differences between game and clays, my reasons for wanting to try and what I wanted to get out of it. Secretly, I think he was pleased that finally one of his kids was genuinely interested in his hobby! So, I started looking into options as lessons twice a year when I went home just wasn’t going to cut it.
I found a local group on Facebook that organises training days and social events for women interested in taking up the sport. I reached out and got a recommendation for lessons as well as an invitation to go along to an event and meet the group. I haven’t managed to meet them yet, but I’m looking forward to doing so soon. On their recommendation I contacted a local range and booked a trial session; this was it…I’d bitten the bullet as it were!
I was really nervous driving up to the range that first Sunday, not sure what to expect and feeling well and truly out of my comfort zone…I kind of wished Dad was there for moral support!
I needn’t have worried though, my instructor Shaun quickly put me at ease and talked me through what the session would involve. Nothing too complicated at this stage, he would help with the basics such as mounting the gun, stance, etc. I had no idea there was so much I had to think about…but wait, according to Shaun I wasn’t to think. ‘Concentrate but don’t think!’ were the words I heard again and again…this was going to be hard!
My 25 shots were up and I felt relatively pleased with myself, I’d hit more than I missed, and I hadn’t made a fool of myself (I hoped!). Shaun said I had some natural awareness of what I was doing and I’m pretty sure I walked the entire way back to my car with a ridiculous grin on my face! Within a week I’d signed myself up for lessons, there was no going back… I’ve officially taken up a new and expensive hobby!