The times are a changin'
For me, there is nothing better than shooting in a team full of ladies on a driven day. The banter, the laughs and that much-loved camaraderie amongst the girls just can’t be beaten, making for a thoroughly jolly affair and an excellent day’s sport. And on our ladies’ days, the mix of women from all walks of life is always so unique; we often have a titled Lady shooting in the line alongside others of a variety of ages and backgrounds, so there’s never a dull moment and it’s always bundles of fun.
However, I also really love a good shoot day with the boys. I’m rather lucky to shoot with the most hilarious and wonderful team of chaps throughout the season. These are days that I laugh about for weeks afterwards – namely because of the top drawer gunbus banter, which is an inherently important part of any day’s shooting.
I also take a few days per season where I invariably end up being the only lady Gun, often in a team of Guns that I’ve never met before. On such days, it always brings a secret smile to my face when the shoot room falls into complete silence as I arrive. This is usually followed by: “Oh hello, you must be So-and-so’s wife. Will you be joining him on his peg?” – like they expect hubby to be fussing around somewhere and assume I’ve been instructed to arrive ahead. Just for the record, Mr. K-L doesn’t shoot, but they don’t know that yet...
Back to the day... Once we’ve established that I’m actually shooting, their eyebrows stay raised a touch longer. We have the safety briefing, draw pegs, boot up and then before the first drive there are usually a few well-meaning supportive comments, mainly about “getting in front of them” and the usual assumption that I’ll be shooting a 20 bore (not that there’s anything wrong with shooting a 20, but for the record, I shoot a 12). These comments are taken gratefully and graciously in the spirit they are intended.
It’s only after the drive begins, when the 12 bore comes out and the birds start coming down, that the tone changes. After the drive there’s usually a shift from well-meaning snippets of advice to hearty pats on the back and the odd “very well shot, young lady”. This is my utter favourite. Yes, I’m female; yes, I know what I’m doing; and yes, I really do love shooting with this rare breed of old boys (and showing them what I’m made of!).
As we all know, by its very nature, game shooting has always been a man’s game. However, I like to feel our club has contributed a little to rewriting the future of the sport. I love these old boys and their advice and astonishment in equal measure. If you’re a lady Gun reading this, I’m sure you’ve encountered a few similar scenarios in your time. It’s not malice, it’s just that the times are a changing.
Being the lady in the line has many perks, of course. Yes, we are often a rare sight on some shoots, but we generally also experience so much chivalry and encouragement. It’s that old fashioned etiquette and polished manners that I really adore. It’s not about huge bags for me, or even the finest estates (although if I only shot on the best estates, rest assured that wouldn’t be a problem), rather, it’s about the company. The intrigue and blossoming friendships in a new team, the familiarity and banter amongst friends, or having the pleasure of shooting with those treasures that you’ll never forget.
May your season be filled with characters, witty banter, good birds and bags of festive sport.