I really admire women who juggle shooting and nappies – it can’t be easy shooting a physically and mentally demanding sport and raising a young family
Caroline Povey took 18 months off shooting when she and her husband Paul had baby Xanthe in June 2010.
Before becoming a mum, Caroline had a successful career as an Olympic Trap shooter. Her father, Joe Neville was also a successful shooter and Caroline was a noticeable contender on the ranges over the past decade, making several GB team appearances since 2004.
Since Xanthe came along, Caroline was undecided whether or not she wanted to continue her shooting career, she took 18 months off but missed shooting and could not ignore her thoughts of breaking targets – eventually she decided to pick up shooting where she left off.
Caroline’s message is clear: with some organisation and support women can combine motherhood and competition shooting and we wish her every success for her future goals back in the sport she clearly loves so much.
Four times British Ladies Champion
I am from a shooting family, my dad is Joe Neville – an Olympic Skeet Shooter, who went to the Olympics and won the British Grand Prix in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. He is now coach to many of the UK’s top shooters and of course my coach as well.
I didn’t start shooting until I was 20 and that was only after following my now husband Paul, around various Sporting shoots for a few months marking his card. As soon as I had a go I really took to it and was very quickly the Derbyshire Champion and the British Universities Champion.
“My first Olympic Trap competition was the 2001 UK Championships at Beverley. My dad threw me right in at the deep end as I had only shot OT once before and I struggled to hit double figures. After that I was hooked and have since only shot Olympic Trap – I’m pleased to say I have improved since that first outing.
I won the British Grand Prix in 2003 and made the Great Britain team in 2004. I have been on the team on and off up until having Xanthe. I only shot for a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant as it was nearly the end of the shooting season. I had the occasional shot in the summer after Xanthe was born if one of the girls like Anita North or Charlotte Kerwood came up for training, but I didn’t really get the urge to start shooting properly until March this year.
My husband Paul has now stopped clay shooting and is a really keen archer, he travels around the UK competing in the National series. So at the start of the year we had to put all the competitions we wanted to go to on a calendar and work out if there were any clashes. It has meant that we didn’t both spend a weekend at home for weeks this summer.
Getting back up to a competitive level was really difficult. In shooting there is a perception that you don’t have to be fit – believe me; you definitely use your core muscles, particularly in OT with the stance and pivotal motion.
It took me a long time to be able to shoot more than 25 targets. My stomach and back would ache for days when I first started shooting again – I literally did not have the strength to shoot. I train a lot less now than I used to, and there have been no training camps in Italy this year. But when I do train it is really focussed – I usually go and shoot 25 or 50 targets, as that is all time allows, so I really focus on getting my training right.
When I had all day to train, I probably didn’t focus as much; if I had a bad round I could always have another go.
Once I got stronger, I started hitting more targets and booked in to shoot at the first GB selection shoot at Southern Counties last May. I was apprehensive about going as it would be the first time I had been away from Xanthe. I sobbed as I dropped her off at nursery and really struggled on practice day with mother’s guilt.
I decided that there was no point leaving her and then shooting terribly. So I got my competition head on, focussed, and after 75 targets I was pleased to see I was the joint leader on 67. I was really excited about shooting in the single barrel final and shot 21 to win the shoot! I was ecstatic, and as the rankings had been reset before the first shoot, it made me British Number One for the first time.
By the time the World Championships were selected I was joint third in the rankings, but unfortunately lost out on a team place after a shoot-off. However, I was still immensely proud of myself for getting into that position after having 18 months out of shooting and only shooting competitively again for a matter of weeks.
I then had a good result at the English Open, which put me in the team for the Home International. Although I had previously shot for Great Britain, this was my first England cap and I was really pleased to take the Ladies High Gun. The last selection shoot of the year was at Beverley and was also the UK Championships. I shot 69ex-75 to win the UK Championships for the fourth time and this was the perfect end to a great year back on the shooting circuit.
I am really pleased with how I have performed this year and have finished the year ranked third in the UK. I am now aiming to be selected for some of the 2012 World Cups. The first World Cup takes place in March so Paul and I will have to be getting the calendar out early!