'I want to do it again!'
Sporting Shooter took a group of complete novices to West London Shooting School for their first taste of clay shooting
It all started when the subscriptions team were having a well-earned drink after work one day. “How come we do subs for a shooting magazine but we’ve never been shooting?” they wailed into their glasses of wine. After a few more they had managed to convince subscriptions manager Faith that it was a brilliant idea.
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So one sunny August morning the West London Shooting School welcomed 12 beginners from our publishers, Archant Specialist. Most of them had never even touched a gun before, let alone hit a clay target. The looks of dread on their faces and the questions of “Is it true that you get a massive bruise on your shoulder?” said it all.
Instructor Barry Church gave a safety talk and went through the kit they’d be using, then it was out to the ground to smash some clays!
A few hours later their faces had turned from apprehension to pure elation. Not only had they all hit some clays, they had really enjoyed themselves – and were eager to do it again!
NAME: Hayley MillsJOB TITLE: Circulation AssistantAGE: 22HOMETOWN: St AlbansHOBBIES: Shopping and clubbing
First to step up to the stand was Hayley. She had never picked up a gun in her life before – but with Barry’s coaching she managed to hit a clay on her first attempt!
‘I’ve learnt that shooting isn’t impossible – anyone can do it. It’s more female-friendly than I thought it would be. I was nervous to start with, but once I held the gun then I was fine – I was just trying to hit the clay. I’d definitely do it again. And I’d try and encourage my friends to do it too!’
NAME: Sally DunfordJOB TITLE: Management AccountantAGE: 30HOMETOWN: Living in Putney, grew up in ThailandHOBBIES: Exercising, holidaying and socialising
This was the first time Sally had ever attempted any kind of shooting, “except water pistols!”
‘What worried me most was the kick-back but that wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I did manage to hit my face a little bit so I do have a small bruise but it was really fun – better than I thought shooting would be. It was easier than I thought too – I thought it’d be more frustrating but I managed to hit quite a few. It was good fun!’
NAME: Stephen LavinJOB TITLE: Finance DirectorAGE: 37HOMETOWN: Hertfordshire, originally from ScotlandHOBBIES: "I don’t have any – I have a family!"Stephen tried shooting once but never had any coaching.
‘It’s been great fun. I’ve learnt so much – about instinct, about not thinking too much when you’re actually shooting, which sounds silly to say. It’s been a great day.
'It’s a great social entertainment and a great sport. It’s readily accessible and it seems very friendly here. And as easy to take up as golf, so yes, I’ll definitely do it again.’
BARRY CHURCH is a former Sporting gold medallist with the British Police Team. He has been an instructor for 10 years.
"What I see is a blank sheet of paper,” says Barry. “It’s wonderful. People come to me worried that the gun’s going to hurt them or that they’re going to look stupid. It’s part of my job to get rid of the nerves. Young ladies especially are worried that the recoil is going to hurt them, but if we get them initially to hold that gun correctly and to focus on the target correctly, very quickly they realise that it’s not going to hurt and they can have a lot of fun.
“I say, life is too short. If there’s something you want to do, then do it. If you then find that it’s not for you, that’s all well and good. "If you want to try shooting, find somewhere locally that will take you as a novice and give it a go.”
Further details on the West London Shooting School can be found at www.shootingschool.co.uk or telephone 020 8845 1377.