The 10 June 2017 marks the third year of the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club’s (“S&CBC”) National Ladies Shooting Day (or #NLSD2017 as it’s more commonly known) and the response has been phenomenal – Ladies Shooting is firmly on the map. I remember Vic (aka Victoria Knowles-Lacks founder of the S&CBC) calling me one evening back in 2014 saying she had had this great idea and wanted to run it by me; she was going to hold a national day for ladies shooting – cue jazz hands. Fast forward a few months and, with much blood sweat and tears, we had helped Vic bring her dream to a reality. 23 ladies came together to host events across the U.K for the inaugural National Ladies Shooting Day with over 1000 women clay pigeon shooting. Vic is one of my closest friends, and what I have learnt from her side over the years is that when she has an idea – like this – you might not realise it at the time but she will achieve it and it is going to be unbelievable! I don’t think any of us could have imagined how successful it would be and now we can say that between us we have hosted over 3000 women to try clay pigeon shooting!
I first started shooting quite some time ago. My dad taught my siblings (i’m one of four – 2 sisters and 1 brother) and I how to shoot an air rifle before moving onto shotguns. But it was after I had moved to London, and got established in my career, that I turned back to shooting. I needed something more. I needed something to challenge me and I missed my countryside roots. As luck would have it, I stumbled across the S&CBC on social media, booked on for my first event at The Royal Berkshire Shooting School and haven’t looked back since. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: WE ALL HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE. So whether you have already booked onto NLSD or are living life on the edge and leaving it to the last moment to book, I have recruited some help from our-veteran NLSD hosts and most inspiring ladies in the S&CBC, to help answer some of the most commonly heard questions ahead of trying clay pigeon shooting for the first time…
I’ve never really thought about clay pigeon shooting! Can ladies shoot?
NLSD is a unique opportunity for ladies across the U.K. to all try shooting in an inclusive environment. I am always surprised at how many complete beginners we get at these events so don’t worry if this is all new to you, I promise you will not be on your own. If you are a lady then NLSD is open to you! It is as simple as that – there are no additional requirements for age, height, build, experience or background. Our youngest members are in their teens (not including the recent bun club babies and little ones who come along to events) and our eldest members over 70. Also, there’s a whole range of ladies shotguns and cartridges out there now. Not to mention the growing market for ladies shooting clothing. Gone are the days when we were handed a heavy side by side and told to just shoot off instinct!
Ok, but what happens on NLSD?
You will all meet and assemble for a quick brew at your booked shooting ground, ahead of your start time. You will be split into smaller groups and allocated an instructor. Your instructor will take you round the ground and get you dusting clays in no time! Once you have shot 30 clays, you will return to the ‘club house’ for tea, cake and the presentation for the winners.
What should I wear?
Comfortable clothing that is practical for being outside and does not restrict your upper body movement. I would check the weather a few days ahead of NLSD and tailor my clothing to that – you will still shoot if it’s raining! Try and avoid any tops which either have embellishment round the neck or cowl necks etc, these can impact your gun mount. I would also wear trousers or jeans and avoid shorts and dresses – we don’t want any Marilyn Monroe moments when you are on the stand and ready to shoot! Keep to flat shoes as a heel can push you off balance. Most importantly, you do not need to go out and buy anything new, whatever you have in your wardrobe is fine.
Is there anything I need to bring?
Gun hire, cartridges, hearing and eye protection are all provided by your ground, but if you are baking – remember your cake! This is the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club after all so not only will there be prizes for the best score for shooting, there will also be an award for the best bake. I would Google the ground (if you have never been there before) just so you have an idea of where you are going.
My husband/ father/ partner / boyfriend shoots but I tried it once and didn’t really get on with it…
If you tried shooting a few years back and didn’t really like it, know that the industry has moved on so much in the last five plus years. Shooting grounds make a big effort with ladies and want them to enjoy their experience. if you struggled with the weight of the guns in the past, mention this to your instructor and they can find you a lighter 20 bore. If maybe you didn’t like the noise when the shotgun was fired, again tell your instructor, they can double up your hearing protection. Or maybe you were scared of recoil, again your instructor may be able to provide a recoil pad for you to use.
Maybe try it again one more time, you could be pleasantly surprised…
I bet I’m rubbish?
This is quite possibly the most common response from ladies that I hear at Game Fairs and Shooting Shows. It’s not about ability, that comes with time (practice makes perfect), it’s about having a go, pushing yourself and trying something new. Just remember that every experienced shot, every game shooter, every competitive shot all had to be a beginner at some point. As I say above, we all have to start somewhere and I’ll let you into a secret – no one hits everything every time. (Well there are a few people I know who struggle to miss but let’s not count those for now…) So just get out there and give it a go. As long as you enjoy yourself no one cares about your score – it’s NLSD! So there are prizes to be won for just booking in and turning up – winner winner! Now it can be disheartening if you struggle with a stand but try not to take it to heart. Speak to your instructor and explain what you see/ think when you are pulling the trigger as that might help identify where the problem lies. But remember – no one cares if you miss. No one is judging you.
What if I’ve never fired a gun?
Again – we all have to start somewhere! The instructors will talk you through everything so there’s no need to worry if you are a complete and utter beginner. I have actually brought quite a few friends along to try clay pigeon shooting who had never seen or held a shotgun let alone fired one and they ended up really enjoying it! Your instructor will take you through how to hold a gun, how to stand and will have you hitting those clays in no time. You do not need your own gun or certificate to be able to attend or enjoy NLSD.
I don’t think I will know anyone there?
If you are coming on your own, let your hostess know when you arrive and she can look after you. Otherwise, you will be making friends as soon as you get put into your group.
Can I be in the same group as my friends?
Yes let your hostess know when you arrive and she can try and sort (unless you mentioned this when booking in and, if so, you should already be in your allocated groups).
Is there any kind of etiquette I should be mindful of?
Not really. Your hostess will explain on the day if there are any rules specific to your ground. You will be split into smaller groups and it is perfectly fine (unless told otherwise) to cheer your team mates on when they hit their clays – even now if someone shoots pretty well I will congratulate them and give a little cheer from behind. The aim of the day is to thoroughly enjoy yourself so try not to get too bogged down in etiquette. The only thing to remember is ‘safety’. Keep your gun broken and empty when carrying it from stand to stand and keep your barrels nice and high and facing away from you/ anyone when the gun is loaded.
Ok so I booked onto NLSD and loved it! How can I do more?
Get booked on for more shooting! Practice makes perfect as they say. You can book in for more lessons at the ground you shot at for NLSD – unless you travelled out of your way, in which case have a quick Google for your local ground and get booked on there. You can also book in for future S&CBC or other ladies shooting events. BASC Ladies Shooting is a good place to look for ladies shooting opportunities. Once you have the basics, get your friends and family to take you along too!
If you have not booked your place and have been convinced to join the growing movement of ladies trying clay pigeon shooting then click here for the NLSD events page.