We recently delivered – hand delivered! – new kit to Anita and the rest of the England team before the Home International in August, and after that event we caught up with Anita for a chat about her experience in shooting, her role with the England team, and how the sport is now becoming much more inclusive.
KUDOS: Hi Anita! So for those who don’t know, can you explain how clay pigeon shooting works?
Anita: Clay Pigeon shooting is a little bit like track and field athletics, insofar as there are lots of different events that fall under ‘clay shooting’ – what they have in common is it’s all about clays, and it’s all about how those targets are presented. There are different formats and a number of different disciplines that are shot at home international level (which includes England, Scotland, Wales, NI and Ireland).
And how did the recent Home International go?
That was held just across the border in Wales. We picked up a whole load of silverware and winners’ badges. And we had the High Gun – the highest scoring competitor of the weekend – in Tom Betts!
So tell us a little bit about your background…
Anita: So I’m a retired competitor – I shot internationally and at home international level. My first cap – I hate to say it! – was 30 years ago this year. This year I’ve taken on the role of Team Manager for the England team, for Olympic Trap, which is one of the disciplines.
After my first England cap 30 years ago,I represented Great Britain, shooting Double Trap, which for a while was in the Olympics programme and then Olympic Trap at World Cups, European and World Championships.
. I also represented England at two Commonwealth Games – the first one was back in 2002, in Manchester, where I won two silver medals. And I was selected for England again in 2010 for the Games in Dehli, where I won silver in the women’s trap pairs with Abbey Burton, and a gold in the singles!
That’s amazing! And so turning it around from Commonwealth gold medal standard…everyone at KUDOS is sport mad, but it’s fair to say none of us are exactly steeped in shooting tradition. I tried clay pigeon shooting once, and as someone who is pretty good at most sports, I turned up expecting to be decent – and yet I was utterly hopeless. It’s not easy is it?
It’s not! it’s really a matter of hand eye coordination, and it can be very difficult at first, yeah. I still remember my first attempt and it was very weird, as someone who had never held a gun. Not easy – but a great challenge and can be lots of fun.
I thought my ‘skills’ in other sports might be transferable, but nothing can really prepare you for holding a gun and firing at a target…
Absolutely. It’s different because the clay is moving so you have a moving target, and it’s very easy to move in front of it, and then pull the trigger – but you stop the gun. That’s the thing that beginners tend to do. It’s great fun though and it can be very addictive. Lots of people in this country participate purely on a social level, and there’s an increasing number of women taking part in what traditionally, it must be said, was seen as a male sport. But there’s a lot more women involved now which is brilliant, and there are some really good shooters across the country. In fact we came back from Tokyo recently with one medal, in Olympic Trap – Matt Coward-Holley came back with a bronze.
Most sports you come across at school or socially. It’s fair to say most regular joes aren’t going to come across shooting – how would someone be likely to get involved?
For me, I had a go at a game fair – the Midland Game Fair – and these events usually have clay shooting attached to them. They tend to have ‘have-a-go’ stands which is a really great introduction to the sport – supervised, instructed etc. These days there are a lot more options out there. Vouchers through things like Red Letter Days is quite a popular way of route into it. There are a lot of shooting grounds across the country.
Are these shooting grounds clubs then, and you need to be a member?
They mostly tend to be shooting grounds – you don’t have to be a member of a club to go shooting. You could just turn up at your local shooting ground and have a go. The CPSA website has a directory of local grounds and clubs, with instructors, and you can book yourself a session.
If you decide it’s the sport for you, then you obviously have to start thinking about things like getting your own shotgun, equipment etc, and also a licence – but you can have lessons without having taken those steps. There’s also things like cadets, scouts etc – they’re giving youngsters the opportunity to try clay shooting, and other target shooting. It’s great to see.
For women there are women’s clubs that have been set up – for example the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club and Country Girls UK are just two examples. They have women only days, all about creating a community.
That’s of particular interest to us, as over 50% of the kit we dispatch goes to women and we’re big into the idea of equality of opportunity and helping to broaden sport’s reach and accessibility.
Yes that’s really great to see, across the board in all manner of sports. It’s just great to see that women’s sport is being taken more seriously, and not just kind of in the shadow of men’s sport, but absolutely in its own right.
With clay shooting, it is a sport for all, and you get a wide range of ages. You’ll get from youngsters right through to people well into retirement, into their 70s. Some are very serious about it, and still compete to a high level, while others do it more for the social aspect and getting together with their friends.
We do see a number of, say, 11 and 12 year olds, but of course safety is paramount. The first and utmost concern is the safe handling of a gun – how you treat it with respect and keep safety in mind at all times.
And finally – happy with the kit?
Oh the kit is great yes, and the customer service from Kudos was way above and beyond – Spencer drove all the way from Poole in Dorset up to Wales to deliver the new kit on the eve of the home international!
That’s what we like to hear!
Thanks so much to Anita for taking the time to speak to us. If you fancy giving clay pigeon shooting a go, click here for more info, find a club or contact us direct and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
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