My first National Ladies’ Shooting Day!
Fieldsports Magazine’s Bethan Watson relives her first clay shooting experience with The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club and describes how she’s well and truly caught the shooting bug!
Wow, where do I begin?! On Saturday, June 11, I attended the second annual National Ladies' Shooting Day (NLSD) at Bisley Shooting Ground... and I'm still buzzing! What a fun and welcoming day. To start with, I want to say a huge thank you to Victoria Knowles-Lacks and her wonderful Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club team for organising the day, which saw well over 1,000 ladies up and down the country smashing clays and eating far too much cake! I think everyone who took part will agree how enjoyable the day was, so thank you, Victoria, you smashed it!
My first NLSD is something I will remember for a long time. I've always wanted to get into shooting as I love everything about the countryside and the sports on offer, but I never really knew how to go about getting started – especially as it's still perceived to be a very male-dominated sport. However, considering my house is full of homemade teal and pheasant feather lampshades and other country-style furnishings, I thought it was about time I gave it a go, and then I heard about NLSD 2016.
NLSD is the perfect platform for allowing ladies of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to take part in the sport together. It is perfect for ladies like myself who would not necessarily know how to start shooting, but at the same time gives more experienced shooters the opportunity to come together, see friends, and have an all-round fun day out.
My friend and colleague Charlie and I arrived at Bisley Shooting Ground mid-morning, where we were made to feel very welcome. A few of the girls had come to the event on their own, but – like everyone knows – as soon as you get a group of women together you can't shut them up, so no one was left out! Amazingly, one of the ladies, Marlene, had flown in all the way from Guernsey that morning to be there (and was planning to fly back again that evening!), which just shows the extent of the club's following.
The day is extremely relaxed. There's no need to worry about what to wear, and you can dress as flamboyantly as you like – as long as you're able to move properly with the gun, then anything goes! I kitted myself out with a Gamebirds Clothing moleskin shooting waistcoat after seeing Victoria sporting hers on several occasions, which provided me with a little extra shoulder padding and deep pockets for cartridges.
All the equipment you need is provided. Bisley supplied us with caps, ear defenders, glasses and guns – unless ladies preferred to use their own. Cartridges were supplied by Hull Cartridge; who have supported and sponsored The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club's events right from the beginning.
We were divided into small groups depending on our ability and assigned an instructor. My group was lovely. We all really wanted each other to do well, and as most of us were total beginners I wasn't too worried about how many I hit, and just enjoyed it! It really helped having Dawn Smith as our instructor. She was brilliant – encouraging, patient and kept the whole round fun.
As a keen golfer, I've always found my hand-eye coordination to be pretty good and, luckily, I found my groove with the going away clays almost straight away, but I did struggle with some of the long-distance crossers; perhaps I just need to go and get my eyes tested again...
Unfortunately, the good old British weather decided to chuck it down. But it didn't dampen our spirits and we kept on shooting (oddly I hit far more clays in the rain?!). I was certainly grateful I chose to wear my high boots and Perilla country socks to match my outfit instead of summer shoes!
Once we got back into the clubhouse and dried off, it was time to sample the amazing cakes that some of the ladies had baked especially for the day. As someone who always looks forward to food, I took it upon myself to sample as many as possible and I have to agree with Victoria, our cake game was very strong! Unfortunately, my homemade lemon cheesecake didn't win a prize, but you couldn't deny the winning Pimm's cupcakes looked and tasted incredible.
The sponsors for the event – Dubarry, Alan Paine, Fur Feather & Fin, Hiho Silver, Hull Cartridge and Browning – provided some incredible prizes for the winners, and one lucky lady even won a Browning 525 on the members' raffle!
Shooting is such a sociable and enjoyable sport, and I'd encourage any lady who is looking for a new hobby to go along to one of The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club events... you certainly won't be disappointed. All in all, it's safe to say I've caught the shooting bug, and I will certainly be attending next year's National Ladies' Shooting Day so that I can catch up with friends both old and new – as well as beating my score from this year!
For further advice about how to get into clay shooting, we at Fieldsports, along with Victoria, have put together some top tips: www.fieldsportsmagazine.com/cbc
#NLSD2017 Selfie Competition
This year we will be running a 'selfie' competition alongside The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, whereby all selfies taken on the day and posted to Instagram with the hashtag '#NLSD2017' will be entered into a competition to win an exclusive article with Fieldsports Magazine. The post with the most likes will be named as the winner.
Full details will be announced close to the event on The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club Facebook page, HERE.
The Champion of Champions Event
We're excited to announce that Fieldsports and The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club will be teaming up to host the Champion of Champions event bi-annually. The next event will take place in 2018.