Ladies behind the trigger

The ladies at EJ Churchill prepare for a fun-packed day of clay breaking

The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club’s National Ladies Shooting Day was a celebration of great shooting and good times, reports Anita North

Here’s a great example of sharing and encouraging the love of clay shooting, that I have been privileged to be involved in. In recent years, an increasing number of women in the UK have been participating in clay shooting, and The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club (S&CBC) has been among the prime drivers of that change.

The club was established by Victoria Knowles-Lacks in 2011 to run events around the UK to empower women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. There is an emphasis on social fun as women learn and participate together. Since the S&CBC’s foundation, more than 15,000 women have attended events including shoot days, conferences, social events and more.

In 2015 Victoria launched National Ladies Shooting Day to build on S&CBC achievements, spread the word about women’s shooting and to make it even easier for women to get involved.

At grounds all over the country, plus one event in Ireland, S&CBC events are hosted for women to get involved in clay shooting. Photos and posts are shared across social media to promote and record the day, helping to spread the word about all of this clay shooting activity.

This year the fifth National Ladies Shooting Day was held on 8 June. The day was sponsored by Hull Cartridge Company, Alan Paine, Browning and the Ladies Shooting Club.

At each ground where events were hosted rosettes were awarded for the highest scores in the different categories. Thanks to the support of commercial sponsors, later in the day there was also a prize draw for any club members attending a NLSD event, and one lucky member won a Browning shotgun.

I joined Laura Everton, Eastern Region Coordinator, who with Sammy Halsey, hosted an event at EJ Churchill’s Shooting Ground near High Wycombe. Some attended by themselves, some came along with friends. It was a day filled with laughter and smiles. 

I chatted with ladies as they arrived, and it was fabulous to learn that a significant proportion of them were trying shooting for the first time. After a welcome cup of tea and a briefing from Laura Everton, it was time to go out shooting.

Ladies were put into groups based on their experience – First Timers, Beginners, Intermediates, Experienced and Pro (CPSA C class or above). The first three of these groups were guided over a number of stands by an instructor, shooting 30 clays each.

Meanwhile, the ladies in the Experienced group were able to shoot 75 clays on more challenging stands. I tagged along and watched some of the ladies shooting. I certainly saw lots of smiling faces. 

I know from talking to the first time shooters that there will be more than a few ladies returning to do more clay shooting. Some were already planning to arrange a day with their families.

When everyone had finished shooting, it was back to the clubhouse to enjoy a little afternoon tea and cake while the scores were totted up to decide rosette winners in the various categories.

The serious competition of the day was between the cakes brought along by members. The ladies sampled the cakes and then voted for their favourites. I have to say those I tried were absolutely delicious. 

The end of the day saw Laura Everton do a closing speech, which included thanks to sponsors and to the team at EJ Churchill’s for their help. Rosettes were presented to the category winners, photos were taken and everyone was thanked for attending.

Shooters at Eriswell get ready to blast some targets to bits

There was also a time for acknowledgement and remembrance of a lovely Bun Club member, Pip Watson, who passed away last year. Pip did a great deal of work supporting Victoria as the club grew way beyond her expectations. It was lovely to see that Pip’s daughter, Caroline, participated in the day with a group of her friends. It was a wonderful way to celebrate a wonderful woman.

Many of the ladies were still chatting as they were leaving, and it was fabulous to see them making plans to meet up again in the near future. It certainly looks as though there are more ladies who have got the clay shooting bug.

Increasing Participation in Clay Shooting

How do we help keep the sport growing? How do we continue to promote a better understanding of shooting sports? We have all experienced the social benefits that come from clay shooting, let’s help others to experience that.

Have-a-go days, corporate events, and celebration events can all be great promotional opportunities for the sport that we all love so much. A growing social media presence showing the many positives of shooting sports can help us keep our sport strong and bring enthusiastic new shooters into the fold.

The women over at St Clair’s were quick to get into the swing of things

Encouraging work colleagues, friends and family of all ages to try clay shooting can only be a good thing. They may or may not take up the sport, but whatever happens they will definitely develop a greater appreciation of it. The more people that benefit from a better understanding of the sport, the more support we will have from the general public. 

Here’s a final thought for you to consider: Great Britain will have clay shooters in the Tokyo Olympics, but where are future Olympians going to come from? They may just be a friend, or a friend of a friend…

Until next month. Hope you’re enjoying your shooting and, if you are training, enjoy and embrace the hard work. Don’t forget to get behind our teams as they continue on the quest for medals, championships titles and for quota places! Go GB!

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