My formative years in Essex gave no chance or inclination to follow country pursuits. It wasnâ€™t until the grand age of 55 whilst spending 4 days on a promotional stand at E.J Churchill, that I began to understand the appeal of the shotgun.Â It all began with a free lesson, a lesson the transport guys on the 2011 Classic thought would be worthwhile. They jokingly said afterwards it was so they could look at my backside without being obvious!Â Anyway whatever the reason they did me a massive favour, I loved it!
My licence arrived in October. Eagerly clutching my credit card, I was virtually hammering on the gun shop door to sell me a gun. My first 20 gauge was a mistake. However, I persevered for 4 months. I still couldnâ€™t hit a barn door and I could have sworn I had been given a gun from the rifle range at the fair. Jumping up and down in sheer belligerent temper, nothing could have been more demoralising than hitting zilch, nada, nothing.
Then Michael at Cambridge Gun Club suggested a Browning 12 gaugeâ€¦ what a revolution; whoopee I was off and running. Now I try to shoot every week, still only hitting 60% but at least Iâ€™m not embarrassing myself anymore. How I wish Iâ€™d known about this sport years ago. Â 28 inches of satisfaction indeed!
I freely admit I was a shopaholic. Every pair of shoes or handbag are now equated into how many cartridges I can buy instead. I have found other like-minded ladies at the ladies only shooting club, The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun, run by Victoria Knowles-Lacks. Fairly soon we will be girls with guns on tour, travelling to Ripley for our first game shoot. I am so excited I am counting the sleeps until we go!
My sporting scores are improving, being lucky enough to shoot most Sundays with my son and friends (my toy boys and old boys). Iâ€™m always the only lady. Mind you-if you hear my language on a bad day, Iâ€™m more one of the boys! Â Shooting with the boys is littered with jokes aimed at me about my hats, bags, gloves, scarves and lipstick. I do take a lot of â€œstuffâ€™ with me. Girls do like to be prepared for every eventuality; rain, cold, sun, tissues for the loo as some clubs are no more than a portable loo and a container in a field. Â If Iâ€™d ever been in the girl guides, I couldnâ€™t be more prepared than I am with my large overfilled shooting bag!
I would advise any lady wanting to shoot to take a deep breath, walk into a gun club and book a lesson. Of course you could always go to one of Victoriaâ€™s ladies days. I took a girlfriend of mine for her 60th birthday to Doveridge. Initially she panicked having been badly bruised by a too heavy a load and not being advised how to hold the gun. She was understandably apprehensive, but after a cup of tea and a chat with the instructor, she shot quite a few stands very well indeed. A dark horse is my friend Clare!
The game shoot day is looming so I have attended a crash course on the rules with an etiquette day because I didnâ€™t understand the peg system or the game cartridges to use. So watch this space or follow me on twitter if you like the ramblings of a woman with a passion for bangs, boots and a Browning @kateqknight