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Victoria's secrets – Carving a brighter future

Victoria Knowles-Lacks, founder of the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club (the UK's largest ladies-only shooting club), talks of getting more youngsters into shooting.

One thing that really warms my heart is to see the next generation out in the field. Is there really anything better than watching a young sportsman or woman enjoying a day’s game shooting, brimming with pride and showcasing their sporting values? Or working their socks off with a flag nearly as tall as them in the beating line, often with a keen dog in tow? For me, being in the field delivers a far greater education than any classroom, television or tablet can provide.

What strikes me most when I’ve been shooting with young Shots, though, is just how mature they are in their outlook and conduct in comparison to the masses of their age group, often wise and confident beyond their years. This is something which can only benefit society as a whole. 

As we all know, it’s critical that we encourage the next generation to take part in the sport. These young people are the guardians of game shooting – they are our representatives who need supporting and guiding so they can maintain our sport for the future. As an industry we’re excellent at getting young Shots engaged, and there are so many initiatives and individuals who are championing the next generation. Many excellent young advocates not only represent our community very well, but represent the next generation with tremendous values. 

We have a number of younger ladies who regularly attend our Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club (S&CBC) days, and we’ve welcomed hundreds of under-18s to our events since we started nearly seven years ago. 

One of our longest standing young members is Sarah Taylor from Derbyshire, who started shooting with us in 2013 aged just 11. She attends many S&CBC days with her Mum, Joanne, and they have since gone on to nab a Gun on their local syndicate where they share a peg and load for each other. Joanne said: “On the shoot, Sarah has had an enormous amount of encouragement, but also receives plenty of stick when she outshoots the men!” She has even gone on to shoot pigeons at home and wildfowl in Scotland, too. “The benefit of having shooting as a hobby has gone even further than just fresh air and respect for the countryside,” Joanne added. “She’s a lot more confident now”. How good is that?

Herefordshire-based Tina Halling is another Bun Club member, whose son Euan is developing into a fine young sportsman. Passionate about raising her son with sporting values, Tina said: “Euan is very lucky to be able to go stalking, lamping, and this year clay shooting. He loves to eat all game and has become fantastic at tracking wildlife.’’ Indeed, it’s not only the amazing experience he’s gaining, but confidence and maturity, too. “He is now even preparing birds himself, which is a really healthy way of eating,” she added. “Being in the field and speaking to people that he would have otherwise never come across, has opened his mind to the world as well as learning respect for the countryside.’’ I find that incredible. 

If Euan goes into school on a Monday with a big smile on his face, talking about the amazing weekend he’s had in the field, the food he’s prepared, and shooting safely; then he’s going to change the perception his peers have about shooting. Surely some of them are going to want to have a go, too?

When thinking of those getting young Shots in the field, Duncan Thomas, BASC North Director springs to mind instantly. What Duncan and his team have achieved is incredible, and his drive, passion, and determination are off the scale. Together they have put many schemes in place to enable a clear and easy route into shooting for the next generation – such as the Young Shots Ambassadors. These are young people who are at the forefront of setting an example; they are safe, passionate, and fantastic role models for other youngsters. Duncan and his team have taken over 1,000 children from all walks of life out shooting in the last five years. Plus, there’s also his new scheme with the North York Moors police team, which will enable hundreds of 6–11-year-olds to experience life on grouse moors.


The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club will be celebrating its fourth annual National Ladies’ Shooting Day on June 9 this year. For more details and to find your nearest shooting ground hosting an event, visit www.shotgunandchelseabunclub.co.uk 



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