I was bought a “have a go voucher”

I was bought a “have a go voucher”

My family have always shot and my Great Uncle has been a gamekeeper all his working life, he was even the head Gamekeeper at Harewood House. I always remember growing up being fascinated with what he did and always looked forward to the Game season as I knew when Christmas came around my Grandad would be given a Pheasant to dress and that was part of the Christmas dinner sorted.

I also encouraged the husband to have a go

It was until 2015, that i had my first go at shooting when I was bought a “have a go voucher” as a Christmas present and I think it’s fair to say that the rest is history. Several lessons and a year later I was (and still am) the proud owner of my first gun. Within this year I also encouraged the husband to have a go and well he now shoots too! I think he thought if he doesn’t get involved he might never see me. We now spend our weekend’s at the clay ground. 

Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club and Femme Fatales.

From getting my own gun I went on to do a few ladies days with the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club and Femme Fatales. I’ve met so many wonderful ladies from these shooting clubs and made some lifelong friends. It’s also one of the ladies that runs the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club event at my local ground who put me in contact with my local Game Shoot which I now beat on, one & half seasons on and I love it!

I didn’t just want to be “a gun”

I didn’t just want to be “a gun”, so I’m glad I got the opportunity to join a shoot. I’ve learnt so much about the countryside and game shooting through beating and over the course of 4 months and I hang out with my mates on Saturday, what is there not to love? With the added bonus of coming home with some lovely birds. I had my first game day on 17th December 2018 with Fine Field Sporting, what a perfect way for any ladies like me, who just wanted to go on her own and shoot with other ladies to get into game shooting.

Etiquette of the day

I had an instructor with me for the whole day who put me totally at ease and taught me all about the etiquette of the day, and it’s fair to say with his help and guidance I shot my share of the bag. I’ve done a couple of days with Lisa at Fine Field Sporting and fingers crossed I can out with her this season. I’ve also had the honour of shooting with the team I beat with in some of the most stunning countryside and some of the highest birds I’ve ever seen. That’s a day I will never forget.

My advice to any ladies that just want to try, just do it. You won’t regret it. There are so many ladies days around the country and everyone I have met has been so welcoming to the sport and also very supportive. Social media is a great way to find events and also like minded people. In this time where our health and well being is a top priority and we have all found a love for the great outdoors, what better way to get out more and take a break from it all, then a few hours at your local clay ground?  

As soon as I picked up a gun I was in love with shooting!

As soon as I picked up a gun I was in love with shooting!

I got into shooting two and half years ago through my dad and a couple friends. I have been brought up in the countryside and enjoyed so much time out with my Dad and Grandad helping on the farm, shooting and just spending time in the great outdoors. As soon as I picked up a gun I was in love with it as a hobby and now shoot twice a week. I also own a sprocker called Kemble who I take with me when I go beating, I try and get out as much as possible during the season and I’m hoping to add some extra ones in this year.

I spend my free time shooting both clays and game

I spend my free time shooting both clays and game/pest control, off roading in my modified Suzuki Jimny and Land Rover. I love shooting as I find it really relaxing and fun to do and love taking myself off to a hide and spending time just chilling out and shooting, I’m a country girl at heart and just love being able to be out in the great outdoor. I also enjoy taking myself away and finding a nice peaceful spot in the middle of nowhere and just camping out in my truck and enjoying the surroundings and roughing it up a bit lol

I have struggled as I am left handed

I have struggled as I am left handed and finding a gun to fit was a challenge. I have just picked up a brand new left handed Caesar Guerini Syren which has transformed my shooting, amazing the difference a properly fitted gun makes. So much so that I have my first competition in a week and a half and am confident I should do well if I can keep the nerves under control.With regards to clay shooting I initially shot sporting with Dad at our local club and then went on to add sport trap and occasional skeet.

I want to inspire and empower women to get involved in field sports, shooting and off-roading

My future aspirations are to get better at shooting and to get properly classified by doing competitions etc. I also want to build my brand and followers on Instagram and other social media platforms to help inspire and empower women to get involved in field sports, shooting, off-roading etc and to hold events aimed specifically at women so they can come and try the sports too!

Finally found a left handed gun!

Finally found a left handed gun!

As some of you may know I have been in search of a left handed gun for a while and it is proving to be quite the challenge! However, when the hubs found a left handed gun online at Kelbrook Lodge we wasted no time in hopping up the motorway for 2 hours once I’d spoken to Penny on the phone to make sure that they were open and what their Covid 19 safety precautions were.

Penny was an absolute font of knowledge about all things shooting

After coming into Kelbrook Village we negotiated a windy lane and pulled into Kelbrook Lodge and were instantly in awe of the imposing shooting lodge and were very curious about the oriental inspired building. We headed over to the shop and deployed our face masks and met Penny who was happy to tell us all about the shooting ground, lodge and the family business. Penny was an absolute font of knowledge about all things shooting and was happy to let me have a demo gun to try out on the shooting ground. As soon as I picked up the gun it felt great but I wanted to see how it felt after 50 shots as my arms are usually dropping off by that point!!

We were briefed by a very helpful groundsman on how the stands worked and the sanitising system and were then left to it. The grounds are so beautiful with windy little pathways leading into sheltered stands but at the same time the grounds are incredibly compact and it took no time at all to get around the varied birds and layouts. This was something that the hubs was thankful for as his plumber knees can’t cope with large amounts of walking!

I had zero expectations

After not shooting at all since last year I had zero expectations for myself so when I actually started breaking some clays my mind was made up about the gun! Hubs had a big grin on his face too as the quality of birds did not disappoint, the groundsman had told us to let him know if we had any no birds but there was no need. I also heard Penny ask a shooter if he had any no birds as well – so refreshing!

I cannot put into words just how fab Kelbrook shooting ground is, from the cleverly designed grounds in the stunning Lancashire hills to the excellent customer care it really has it all and if you’re ever in the area I would highly recommend a visit especially if you are looking for a left handed gun!

How Claudia got into ladies shooting

How Claudia got into ladies shooting

My name is Claudia

I’m very much a beginner at shooting with little experience, so I hope I can help some of you who are worried about getting involved, or not sure where to start- if you can get through to the end!

Firstly a little bit of background on myself, my name is Claudia, I live in Leicestershire and I’m just about to head to the wrong side of my twenties! I’ve always been a country girl and loved the outdoors. I have ridden horses from a very young age, both out in the field with hounds and competing. 8 years ago whilst studying Equine Sciences at college, I met my partner, who I now share a home with on his family farm with our two dogs. 

My boyfriend introduced me to shooting

It was my boyfriend who introduced me to the world of shooting, starting with going along to his local shoot and either standing on peg, or going to help the beaters. I sadly lost my dad on New Years Eve 3 years ago which completely changed my life, and during those first few weeks Ollie took me out to more shoot days with friends and family who really helped me take my mind off things. I loved going along and the general camaraderie and banter through the day –not to mention the group made the most fabulous elevenses!

Everyone was so supportive

The season following on I started to have the odd shot on a few drives, and was thrilled when I got my first pheasant and partridge. I’m a very competitive person and was very reluctant to “have a go” to begin with for fear of not doing well, but found everyone to be so supportive and encouraging to getting new people and generations into the sport. 

My confidence dropped

That summer for my Birthday I was very lucky to be treated to my very own gun, a Beretta Ultralight, but due to me not having a license, I really did not get out shooting as much as I would have liked too and felt my confidence drop. I was worried about the next time I shot by not being successful, or the gun kicking back because I wasn’t holding it right.

Crispy, my fox red lab

As I wasn’t shooting much and had previously loved watching the dogs work, I became a very proud owner of my Fox Red Lab Crispy. I started training with him on the hopes of taking him out in the field to work whilst watching Ollie shoot as I had just about dismissed the idea of me ever being confident enough to do a day myself. 

Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club

An event popped up on Facebook that caught my eye – National Ladies Day Shooting, hosted by the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club at Doveridge. After reading more into it and realizing you didn’t need to have your license or a gun as the equipment was all provided for you, alongside instruction, I thought it would be a great place to start and get back involved with shooting again myself.  The day came and I was a bit nervous going on my own, but I pulled myself together and was so glad I did! Everyone was so welcoming, there was lots of tea and cake! And the instructors were great at encouraging all of us. It pushed me to finally send off for my license so I can be independent and get out much more!!

I got the call from our local firearms officer

When I got the call from our local firearms officer to arrange our meeting to complete the forms for my license it all started to become very real. I made sure I had tea and plenty of biscuits and reminded myself to act normal and not like a criminal! It all went very smoothly with very straightforward questions about why you want to get into shooting, where you will be keeping the guns etc. and within a few weeks I received my certificate through the post.

During this time I’d also gone down to Bisley Clayground to be a guinea pig for teaching for exams for Clay Instructors. I learnt loads about gun fit and safety and after coming home I started to think more about whether my gun fully fitted, which I then started to convince myself it didn’t. 

At the start of the season I was very kindly asked to shoot down in Cirencester with our friend group, where all the ladies shot for the day whilst the men got to play loaders. Again my nerves started to take over as to whether I would be any good, but after chatting to the other girls over breakfast it was clear we all felt the same! Although I didn’t hit much, it was such a good experience to be out on peg all day, and I felt I’d learnt a lot but also gained confidence in my gun handling too. 

Crispy excelled himself

Crispy has also began his shooting journey this year and been out on a few shoots with us, we still have a lot of steadiness and direction to put in which will come with time and practice, but he certainly loves his job! He’s had some cracking retrieves and can’t wait to mark a bird once a shot’s been fired. My favourite day being at a shoot in Warwickshire where I was asked to retrieve a runner out of a brook, I confessed he wasn’t very experienced so didn’t think he would do it, but after some encouragement and re-assuring me just to give it a go I let him get to work. Well he completely excelled himself and managed to sniff it out and bring it straight back to us, we were praised by the pickers up and it left me with a great feeling of pride.

I had the perfect excuse for missing!

Recently I headed down to Hereford and Worcester clay ground that had also put on a ladies day with instruction and advise on gun fit. This sounded perfect so I could finally get a professional opinion on my gun fit whether it didn’t fit or it was all in my head. Before I was very hit and miss (pardon the pun!) but after speaking to the instructor and looking at my gun, we made some quick adjustments with a comb raiser and my shooting was so much improved already. It turned out the stock was slightly too long which was bringing my eye line down and basically was not able to see down the barrels – at least I now feel I had a perfect excuse for missing in the past! I have now left my gun to be adjusted so it will fit me perfectly and can’t wait to pick it back up and get back out.

Thinking about getting your license? Just do it!

I’ve found over these last few years men are actually very encouraging of woman into the sport both with the shooting aspect and with working the dogs. There is also so many amazing woman already involved in the sport who all seem to share the same mentality of woman supporting woman. My advice to anyone thinking about getting your license – just do it! See a social event by the likes of the Chelsea Bun Club or local Ladies Shooting Groups and you like the sound of – just book onto it!! There are so many like minded women, men, younger and older generations and it’s great social media helps bring us all together to share our love for the sport. 

My shooting journeys only just started and I can’t wait for a summer of practice on the clays, training Crispy, and then finally being able to book onto a few of my own game days next year with my own peg and dog to pick up with.

It’s now quite a family affair

It’s now quite a family affair

Shooting was always something that my Dad would pop off to do himself, but when I was older he used to take me out to shoot rotten goose eggs off the fence posts. This was great fun; if you got the egg right in the centre, the yolk would go sky high. This was as far as my shooting journey went for a number of years, until I met my husband.

Alan had shot a few times but nothing major, until he started going to our nearest clay ground with my dad more regularly. He purchased his own gun and never looked back. During this time I occasionally shot with my dad’s gun but it did not fit me well and would give me quite a  smack in the shoulder.

Two of my sisters and I went to our first ladies shooting day a couple of years ago and we had a great time. I continued through 2018 having a couple shots now and then, but it wasn’t until I went out with the Berretta Vittoria 390 and I thought yes this fits right and feels great. So I made a New Years promise to learn to shoot properly. I wanted to get better, to understand shooting more and it was also lovely going out shooting with my family.

Fast forward to now and I have my own gun (a wonderful Christmas surprise), stood on my own peg on Keeper’s Day with my dad standing beside me and shot my 1st pheasant. It is now quite a family affair, as all three of my sisters and niece have all started shooting too.

My favourite shooting moment wasn’t when I was actually shooting. I was on a breastfeeding update study day at work (I’m a Community Nursery Nurse by day) and they decided to do “where would you rather be” ice breaker. Most people said “at home, watching a box set”, but I had jointly won a ladies day at Braidwood the day before and was still on a high. It seemed to make everyone smile when I said “clay pigeon shooting.” 😁