My stomach was churning, my mouth was dry, and a billion thoughts ran through my head as I tried to concentrate on the road in front of me, recalling the journey I’d studied on Google Maps but had never actually driven before. I was on my way to my first ever event with The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club, driving to a shooting ground I’d never been to before and I was a complete bag of nerves. I knew that I had to take this step into an undiscovered world of ladies’ shooting; I knew that I needed to push myself and develop a sense of self-confidence, but I had so many fears it almost felt overwhelming.
What will these other ladies be like? Will I fit it in with them? Will they laugh at me as I pull into the carpark with my little old VW Polo? Am I wearing the right clothes? What if I can’t shoot in front of anyone or I make a fool of myself somehow? The list of questions kept building in my head. Although I no longer regarded myself as a novice (having a few registered competitions under my belt) I’d never gone shooting without my partner and to join a ladies’ shooting group was a big step for me towards becoming more independent.
If you met me now, you’d never imagine that I used to be so nervous or find new social situations so difficult. Especially when you discover that I used to be a Drama teacher. Surely that meant I had bags of confidence? Sadly, that was not the case and I was quite used to putting on an act whilst teaching. It was only fairly recently that I found being ‘myself’ was OK and my huge passion for shooting has helped me to develop this.
I arrived at Mork Shooting Ground bang on 10am. I gave myself a little mental pat on the back for getting there on time and prepared myself for trying to remember new names and faces. I walked into the clubhouse and was instantly welcomed by a small group of ladies. Now for the awkward part – introducing myself with a strange name that no-one will have heard of. I made some joke about being used to responding to various names and one lady joked back that she’d call me ‘The Professional’ as I had all the kit and she’d already heard that I could ‘shoot a bit.’ I knew then that regardless of my intense nerves, or how well I could shoot I would have a huge amount of fun with these girls.
After a quick cup of tea and a welcome speech from our host we were split into our groups. Beginners and intermediates would shoot 30 clays under instruction and the experienced group (including myself) would shoot 75 clays. As we worked our way around the different stands I got to know the individuals in my group, and though I couldn’t stop shaking the whole time I absolutely loved it. It was amazing to be around ladies who shared the same passion that I did, to be with people who understood the buzz that I got from hitting a clay and the shear enjoyment of achieving something. Even the drizzly rain couldn’t dampen my spirits. As we got to the end, I knew that I’d shot fairly well but that didn’t really matter because I was already accomplishing what I’d set out to do that day; getting out of my comfort zone.
We returned to the clubhouse for tea and cakes. I knew that there would be rosettes given out for whoever had scored the highest in each group, and for the best cake too. The lady who was hosting this event was the one who’d persuaded me to come along, and I had met her a few times previously through shooting registered competitions. Danielle Brown has become a very dear friend and I’m so grateful to her for persuading me to join the club. To my absolute delight, she announced that I had won the experienced group rosette and presented this to me on my first event!
It’s funny how life works; I didn’t know it at the time, but this moment would come full circle just over a year later.
I drove home that day on the biggest high. I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my partner all about it. He knew I’d been so nervous beforehand and had wanted me to get involved in it long before I’d plucked up the courage to do so. I was so proud to show him my rosette! In the subsequent months I attended more ladies shooting events through The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club at various shooting grounds and managed to pick up a few more rosettes along the way. I also found myself making friends with many wonderful women; ladies that have not only been incredibly supportive but have also hugely inspired me.
Fast forward to just over a year later and I receive a message from Victoria Knowles-Lacks who asked me if I wouldn’t mind hosting my first Bun Club event. The thought of it scared me ever so slightly, as it seemed a big responsibility to ensure everyone had a great time. There would be ladies of all abilities attending, and for some it would be their first ever experience of clay shooting. But as I’ve still been trying to take on new experiences and I felt pretty humbled that she’d asked me, I agreed to do it. It was at a shooting ground local to me (Lady’s Wood near Chipping Sodbury) and I’d shot there a few times before. It was a cold January day, but the ladies were still incredibly enthusiastic, and to observe them excitedly exchange their own shooting experiences with each other was fantastic to see. I managed to get outside to watch one or two of them shoot, and though I was a little envious that I wasn’t pulling the trigger myself, I loved to see them having so much fun.
At the end of the event I was incredibly proud. I scanned the room and watched all the ladies with huge smiles on their faces, new friendships had been made and to top it off as I was able to return the sentiment from my first ever event; I got to present Danielle with a rosette for being the highest scorer in the experienced group!
Nowadays I’ve learnt that it’s ok to feel a little nervous or worried about a new situation. If you told me 4 years ago that I’d be brave enough to not only shoot on my own, but host an event, I just wouldn’t have believed it possible. Let alone actually love it. Really love it.
If you would like to find out more about The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club click here to go to their website; The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club