I was all set to write this blog post on my second game day in mid-January. I was invited to shoot with a group of experienced guns at a small syndicate. I was going to tell you all about the day, the tough start among the trees, the next peg pinching my bird, my stand literally in the pond (see the picture) and how my nerves nearly got the better of me, but that I came through on the last drive and managed to take down 8 birds.
But then two things happened which both put that day into much clearer perspective.
Firstly, I had another day shooting where I learnt a lot more about myself and that I have a lot more to learn. After beating on and off through the season, I was lucky enough to be able to shoot on one of the last beaters days at Snilesworth. I say lucky, but I didn’t feel it on the day. I didn’t manage to hit anything (not for want of birds coming over me). I have plenty of excuses (speed of the birds, standing on my own etc) but at the end of the day, my inexperience was my downfall. Everyone was super supportive and constructive, “if it was easy, it wouldn’t be a sport” was the best piece of advice I was given. But, after the high of my first and second days, this did pull me back down to earth.
My second “thing” was seeing a picture of Victoria Knowles-Lacks and Claire Sadler with Vera Koo, a top target shot still competing at elite level in her early 70’s. Victoria is the founder of the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, and along with top field sports ambassador Claire, had travelled to the 2018 Shot Show in Las Vegas to fly the flag for UK ladies shooting. Their picture with Vera had me googling her out of interest. I found an impressive list of achievements from a lady who began sport shooting in her early 40’s. One of her quotes stuck with me:
“Even though I have spent the past twenty years perfecting my ability …. even my most basic skills could deteriorate without continued practice”.
It drove home the point that this is a marathon of a sport, not a sprint. Time isn’t running out on me. I started shooting at 40, and with luck I have another 40 years to practise and improve. So, with that, I am taking fully on board that while I’ve come along way, I am really at the very start of my shooting journey.
I’ll be heading back to the clay ground each week, looking for more opportunities to push myself and I can’t wait for the launch of Victoria’s new venture – “The Ladies Shooting Club” to inspire me on the way.
Bye for now, Lucy x
(This blog post also appears on the Alan Paine Blog page)