Shooting in Spring
Thank God for spring! Since February 2 I have been willing the days to lengthen, eager for the longer evenings which allow us to sit outside with a glass of something sparkly.
Just the thought of it offers hope during the postseason, late-winter lull. This time of year never fails to fire me up for whatever the months ahead hold in store.
My season now seems so far away but, looking back, what a tremendous season it was, filled with days that I’ll always cherish and couldn’t possibly forget. Although I had no grouse shooting this time around, I did have my fill of sport, not to mention my phenomenal American adventure (see Ladies shooting: The American way)!
In fact, I had some absolutely stonking days. My utter favourites being partridge at Stubton with a very merry band of chaps and chapesses, the most lovely few days at Ripley (including a special one with my good friends the Bontofts from Hull Cartridge Company and Bonties), and a wonderful day at Manydown Farm in Hampshire, to name a few. The season crescendoed with the most unbelievable finale at Kepwick Hall in North Yorkshire, where I was lucky enough to shoot the famous Penhill drive. The pheasants appeared to soar into the clouds, and we had a great team with plenty of top drawer chat; it was the stuff of dreams.
The club I run, The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club – or the ‘S&CBC’ as it is known – has a lot of amazing lady Gun members who Victoria Knowles-Lacks is the founder ofThe Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club – the UK’s largest ladies-only shooting club. She lives in rural Herefordshire with her good natured (nonshooting) husband and bad tempered terrier. have enjoyed their first taste of driven game shooting this season, and they, too, now have memories to cherish. These women have had lessons on the high towers, they’ve been in the butts at shooting schools, they’ve perfected their technique and now they’re gracing Gun lines in their droves. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed on social media. More than any other season I can remember, this year there have been so many lively Facebook and Instagram posts, tweets and emails, which are filled with excitement, gratitude and sheer delight as so many of our ladies took to a peg for the first time. I remember one particular day in December when I scrolled through my Facebook timeline to see about 15 images of first-time game shooters and delicious gamey meals.
Talking of cherishing, there is so much to hold dear about our sport. For some people it’s dressing up, for others it’s filling the freezer, the chivalry, the food – I could go on. Aside from beautifully presented pheasants and partridges and the beguiling rural nooks our sport takes us to, people are the thing which I most adore about shooting. There is nothing better to me than being around kind and funny people with a wish to do well, not just in the line, but in life in general. Shooting is now my life and on a daily basis I am so lucky to be engrossed in so many aspects of the sport. The perspectives, personalities and ambitions of those in the industry who surround me are what keep things so interesting and let's be honest, so much more fun!
My darling friend and our club ambassador Cheryl Hall offers a perfect example. Last season, Cheryl selflessly gave up so much of her time to load on game days for novice Shots, and also encouraged many women to get out there and try their first clay shooting competition. The same goes for my friend and Commonwealth gold medalist Anita North, and champion Shot Christine Atkinson. They want to impart knowledge, instil confidence and have fun. That said, it’s not just the professionals, of whom I’ve only named a few, but our many experienced members who welcome the new ones, too – sharing their time, experiences and camaraderie. This I really cherish.
As the clay season gets underway, I look forward to getting stuck into some charity days with friends, getting some colour and counting down the months to our new ‘Society’ clay days with Raisthorpe Manor and the Royal Berkshire Shooting School. Next stop, summer!