Most of you will know me as the Receptionist here at the Sportsman Sportsman Gun Centre in Exeter. What none of you will know about me is that I have actually been shooting since I was 12 years old. A lot of people are surprised when they hear this about me, especially when I was younger because it wasn’t exactly a hobby my classmates were interested in. I wish I had an impressive story to tell you about how I became interested in shooting but to be honest it’s more of a funny coincidence than anything.
When I was 11 years old my family were camping in Cornwall, at the holiday park we stayed in there was a shooting game. I thought this game was brilliant! You had to shoot at different targets with a rusty old air rifle and when you hit them a character from the game would spring into action and squirt water at everyone. The devil child in me loved it much to my older brothers’ annoyance, the day we discovered this game we went back to our parents who wondered what on earth had happened as he was soaked and I was bone dry. When my brother explained the game to them they didn’t believe a word of it, they thought he had just fallen in the pool and was trying to get his sister trouble. My brother then made them come and watch me and it wasn’t until my parents were soaked from head to toe that they realised I hadn’t missed once. Luckily for me, I have an uncle who is a member of my local Rifle Club, after we came home from our holiday I started begging him to take me with him. When I turned 12 I became the youngest member of that rifle club, 12 years later I am still an active member and Range Officer.
I almost feel like I’ve grown up around rifle ranges, shooting is such a big part of my life. This doesn’t mean I’ve not had my share of controversy. I will always remember my first competition where turning targets were involved. One of the gentlemen I was besides on the range made a rather snide comment and asked if I could actually use my own gun because it looked heavy. The stubborn 12-year-old me thought I would show him. With turning targets they will face you for five seconds, you shoot once, they turn away for three seconds before they turn back to face you. Not for me, the stubborn devil child managed to shoot all five rounds of ammo in the first five seconds then I went and sat down. At the end of the round, the range officer asked if everything was okay, the gentleman who had made the previous comment had a bit of a smug look on his face until I said: “yeah I just finished”. That round I scored 50/50, something I’ve never done again. This is now a story I hear every time I go back into that club and the gentlemen there haven’t underestimated young female shooters since.
Over the last 12 years, rifle shooting has been my main hobby. I have taken part in many competitions in and around Devon, some I even came away winning. I always take part in the Summer and Winter Leagues with my club. I was also a Sea Cadet so I did a lot of competitions for them when I was younger. I mainly shoot .22 LR but have recently been trying my hand with Air Pistols just for a change, I’ve taken part in Prone shoots in the past but I’ve always been more of a Sporting girl. I’ve been using the same Ruger 10/22 Target Rifle for about 8 years now and I have no immediate plans to change, I’ve become stubborn in my ways.
It’s no secret that shooting is largely a male-dominated sport. My belief is if I can challenge that perception from the age of 12 then others can too. It is an interesting and very diverse sport, anyone can give it a go! There is a Devon lady I have unfortunately never met but whom I do look up to as she shoots even though she is registered blind. It is an amazing and surprisingly accessible sport that I wish more people would consider looking into if they wanted to try something a bit different.