Having emigrated from Cheshire to Yorkshire four years ago, I spent the last three and a half years working full time in a new job; learning the language and getting to know my new husband’s friends and my work colleagues. During this time, there was nothing really ‘for me’.
Then Louise Alford invited me to a ladies’ clay shoot. She had decided – in the face of male domination within the sport and a lack of shooting for ladies within driving distance of her home – to create Yorkshire Fillies and see if anyone would attend the events. And they did, including me! I had never had a desire to shoot, never lifted a gun and hated any form of ‘sport’.
I turned up on the first Yorkshire Fillies ladies’ day, with no gear and no idea – to be honest, it was the promise of bacon sandwiches and fizz that were the main attractions!
By the end of the day, though, I was absolutely hooked!
Who knew that a combination of Women’s Institute-standard home baking and guns could be so thrilling! By the second ladies day, a latent competitive spirit had emerged in me, obviously buried for the whole of my previous life, and I was obsessed. By now I was Googling ‘how to shoot clays’ and reading anything I could get my hands on about clay shooting. When I found out I could have lessons, I was on the phone to Lee at Hayton Castle shoot immediately. After two lessons, my confidence was sky high. My first two ladies’ days had produced little in the way of me actually hitting anything, but on the third ladies’ day, I was on fire!
It’s not all about competition though, far from it. There are those I call ‘the Olympian team’; expert and experienced, they own a gun and know how to use it. Then there are the rest of us, just glad when we hit one clay! But the banter, friendliness and support from all the other ladies, together with gentle coaching from the instructors, makes the whole day memorable – a fact which is borne out by the growing numbers attending and the speed with which the days are now selling out!
If you hate conventional physical sport, are normally shattered after a long week at work, think that guns are just for men, and you can’t hit a tennis ball with a six foot racket …come along! You may discover a hidden skill; you’ll certainly make new friends and you’ll definitely eat some of the best food this side of the Great British Bake Off. Try it, you don’t even need to be from Yorkshire!