More women than ever are taking up shooting sports, but Georgina Roberts would like to see even faster progress.
To me, shooting is more than just a sport, but a lifestyle and something that I am incredibly passionate about. One of my main concerns in shooting is female participation.
I have taken a look at some of the competitions that took place throughout the 2019 calendar to see how many ladies took part in relation to men. I found that at best, there was 50% participation but it was much more common to see less than 25%.
The decision to remove Double Trap from the Olympics was made after the games in Rio 2016 as a way to achieve gender equality ahead of Tokyo 2020. Whilst there is more to it than that, it comes after the women’s event was dropped after the 2004 Olympics in Athens due to lack of participation, demonstrating just how vital it is to have female involvement across shooting sports.
From my own experience, shooting sports can sometimes be a little intimidating. However there is now more support than ever for female shooters, thanks to many inspirational ‘lady guns’ leading the way for us all.
The number of women participating in shooting is on the up, and with some inspirational advocates for our sport, this number is only going to rise.
Shooting is lucky to have many strong female role models leading change, all of them keen to support those who take part or simply have an interest in the sport. For instance, there is Victoria Knowles-Lacks, founder of the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club, who has introduced over 18,000 women to shooting since starting the group in 2011.
Claire Sadler was elected as vice-chair of BASC earlier this year and is the first woman to take this position. Claire is helping the organisation drive forward the shooting sport and break down barriers that are associated with male dominated boards.
Anita North, British Shooting Talent Pathway coach, is helping the Olympic disciplines attract new talent from across the country and encouraging more women to get involved in shooting.
Rachel Carrie is revolutionising the way the public see hunting and shooting. On top of this, Rachel has also written her own cook book, Game and Gatherings, which brings a fresh take on how to cook game.
Then there are Amber Hill and Charlotte Hollands, of the Great Britain Shooting Team for Olympic Skeet and Olympic Trap respectively, who inspire shooters worldwide and prove that you can be world leading athletes and still look glamorous.
Last but not least there is Kirsty Hegarty, Olympic Quota winner for Olympic Trap, who has had an incredible shooting journey and has recently racked up a few medals on the world stage, as well as domestically.
Ladies shooting groups
The UK is lucky enough to have some very impactful ladies shooting groups, like the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club and the Femmes Fatales. These groups are run for ladies, by ladies, to create a safe and friendly environment for others to come and enjoy the sport.
Shooting with a friend with the same interest as you, is one way to build confidence and have some real fun! I’m very lucky that my best friend shoots Olympic Trap for Wales too, and it certainly makes a difference, especially when you can have a laugh in between rounds!
The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club was founded by Victoria Knowles-Lacks in 2011, in order to promote and support women’s shooting. The group welcomes shooters of all kinds, irrespective of age or ability and offers them the support they need in order to get them out on the range.
Victoria has well and truly revolutionised women’s shooting, and has worked hard alongside sponsors Browning, Alan Paine and Hull Cartridge in order to achieve this.
The club hosts a range of regular events all over the country and covers equipment such as the gun, cartridges and even tuition as part of the price. If you’ve never held a gun before, or if you’re an advanced level shooter, the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club is the place to develop your skills and enjoy the sport of shooting.
Ladies shooting groups like the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club are a fantastic way not just to get into shooting, but also to help build confidence. While you’re learning to shoot, it is 90% technical and 10% mental; then once you have built your foundation it becomes 10% technical and 90% mental.
Confidence helps lead to better performance, which in turn leads to more confidence and an even better performance, so this is really important to build on.
National Ladies Shooting Day
Once a year, the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club host National Ladies Shooting Day, a social shoot day which is arguably the largest women’s shooting event in the UK.
There are loads of events around the country which are attended by hundreds of women nationwide and include prizes across all classes and categories from novice through to expert!
The day enables female shooters to come and compete without feeling overwhelmed and under pressure, and at the same time providing them with a safe and friendly environment to do so.
Another group who run social shoots are The Femmes Fatales, who host The Femmes Fatales Cup annually at Royal Berkshire Shooting School. The event draws in shooters from all over, so the group hosts an evening of fun and games prior to the competition for those who travel down the day before. The evenings have previously included activities such as dry practice using a Dry Fire simulator, as well as speeches from industry leaders.
It’s incredible to see the impact that these social ladies events have made, with participation increasing ten-fold. Last year, 2019, saw the inaugural Ian Coley Ladies Sporting Competition take place and become an annual highlight in the ladies shooting calendar. The event is an open shoot, so ladies of all ages and abilities can take part and both overall and class prizes.
Schöffel generously donated silk scarves and Eley Hawk a box of Amber cartridges for all the event goody bags – meaning that everyone walked away with something for their £50 entry fee, even if they didn’t win a prize.
On top of this, the event held a ten-target challenge which gave five randomly selected ladies the chance to shoot-off for a Browning Liberty Light shotgun worth £2,000.
The day also featured a charity pool shoot, which raised £400 for Breast Cancer UK. The date for this year has been confirmed as Saturday 12 September 2020 and is definitely worth putting in your diary!
Taking part in shoots such as these are a brilliant way not only to meet like-minded ladies, but also to mix with those who have a similar shooting ability to yourself who will no doubt share some similar experiences.
Being able to build some firm friendships and a strong support network around you can help improve performances, but will also show that others believe in you, likely more than you sometimes believe in yourself!