Anita North is an Olympic Trap shooter who has represented GB & England in a shooting career that started in 1991. Amongst her international medals, Anita won silver medals in the trap individual and pairs (team of 2) at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and won gold and silver in the individual and pairs in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Not only is she obviously an amazing shot and inspirational lady, but she is a big supporter of getting new shots into the sport. She is equally as well known for (what was) the pinkest hair in sport and her love of Leicester Tigers! She is quite possibly one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. In fact, get her talking about shooting and her passion for the sport is contagious.
I absolutely love spending time with ‘my Nitty’!
Having recently cut back on her competitive shooting, she now works with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, a charity aimed at helping young adults get their lives back on track by using world class athletes to inspire with their passion and attitudes. I honestly cannot think of anyone more suited to this than Anita!
Anita is my first ‘Top Gun’. A new section of the Blog where I am going to put 10 questions to the top shots, personalities and companies within the industry so they can offer their insight, advice and passion for anyone who wants to get involved…
How did you get into shooting?
I had a go at the Midland Game Fair when I was in my mid-20s and I was hooked! I took it up as something to do on a Sunday morning and it kind of escalated from there…
Where is your favourite ground?
In the UK: Nuthampstead Shooting Ground – it’s my home ground. I’m so lucky to have somewhere so close to home and The Barkers, who own the ground, have been so good to me over my shooting career.
Overseas: Trap Concaverde near Lake Garda in Italy – it’s the home of Olympic Trap. I also loved the Dr Karni shooting ground in Delhi with its amazing backdrop of an ancient fort.
What is your preferred cartridge?
RC4 Champions or RC4 Red Shot – I have been using RC cartridges for so long now. Other cartridges are good too and some have definitely impressed me. There’s such a selection of brands out there.
What advice would you give any beginners setting out in the sport?
Safety first at all times – think safety!!
Find a good instructor/coach. You need to get the basics sorted in order to build on good firm foundations. Also, I’m seeing lots of people lean too much on one foot or raise their back foot when trying to perfect their stance. Lets keep both feet on the ground folks! You have two feet for a reason – use them both!
Gun fit is essential. Your first gun may well likely not be your last gun.
You should also try lots of different shooting disciplines – there’s something to learn from each.
Safety is paramount but you also need to protect your hearing. I double up when I am shooting – custom moulds from Plugzz & ear defenders as Olympic Trap (“OT”) is under covers. I have CENS custom moulds from Plugzz for sporting or open situations & when coaching from a distance.
Also, protect your eyesight. Use proper shooting glasses and not just your normal (small) glasses or sunglasses.
What are your top tips for anyone starting to shoot competitively?
Get stuck in – remember everyone starts somewhere – and get to know yourself as a shooter.
Find a coach that works for you – and that’s a coach rather than an instructor. Like any sport, you also need to learn to train, not just practice.
Hone and refine your equipment. Get the right tool for the job as different guns suit different people. I have been using a Perazzi shotgun for much of my international career. A major investment, but so worth it.
How do you deal with the mental element of shooting competitively and how do you deal with the pressure?
I am challenge driven, so when it’s right, I thrive on pressure. I’ve worked with sports psychologists in the past and more recently worked with Henry Hopking of the Brain Training Company. Keeping things simple is a great strategy.
What is your bad shooting habit either now or one that took a long time to lose?
Rushing the target. It took me a while to understand myself and to relax when I shoot.
What does life post-Team GB hold in store for you?
I do a lot of coaching. I’m working on the British Shooting Talent Programme, with a particular interest in mentoring ladies and junior ladies. I also have run introduction to Olympic Trap days for The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club. Most recently we also included Olympic Skeet. I hope to do more of these days and encourage newcomers to the sport.
I am also doing voluntary work with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. I am a member of their Give Back team of world-class athletes working to empower young people facing disadvantage to help them fulfil a positive life. I have just taken 2 groups clay shooting and they really really enjoyed the experience.
What does your own personal shooting post-Team GB hold in store for you?
I’ve booked a game day this coming season! I did shoot game many, many years ago, but due to my commitments to training I did not have chance to do much. I’m also loving sharing my love of shooting with more and more people!
What is your favourite shooting snack that’s alway to hand on shoot days?
Jack Oatbars are my go to snack – tasty, nutritious and sit well on my stomach. I do have to say that I also would hate to count up the number of bananas I have eaten during training and competitions!
A drink is also a necessity – hydration is essential to maintain good vision. You can’t hit the clay if you can’t see it. In very hot weather that means not just water but something that will also replace electrolytes.