IT’S a wet spring morning as I drive up a lane in Sealand to the North Wales Shooting School.
However, the weather hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of a group of stylish yet practically dressed ladies gearing up for a fun day of shooting to raise money for charity.
I’m here to join the Cheshire and North Wales Lady Taverners for this annual event, this year organised by chairman Lori Parker.
After coffee and biscuits the 50 ladies are split into groups ready for their first shooting lesson.
We don our protective eyewear and earplugs and head out into the rain for the shoot.
A complete novice myself, I was relieved to find out that most of my group had never picked up a gun either.
Our instructor was Norman Jones, a cheerful man who put us at ease as he explained how to hold a gun and aim at the clay pigeon targets.
He told us the key was to put our weight forward on one leg, “holding our tummies in and sticking our bums out”.
“The guns we’re using are 20 bores,” explains Norman. “It’s called a Boretta shotgun. It’s a lot lighter for the ladies to use.”
He says the aim of the day was to enjoy ourselves and get a flavour of the sport.
“You can’t teach someone shooting in a day, it’s just a taste,” he says.
A couple of minutes of teaching later and it’s our turn to have a go.
Norman places the gun on my shoulder and he explained the key is to keep it close to my cheek.
When he releases a clay I am told to count to three while lining the gun up with the target before shooting.
I pull the trigger and it goes off with a bang, missing the clay pigeon. I try again a few more times but can’t seem to get the hang of it.
I’m not too bothered as I pass the gun to the next person to have a go. It was fun just to have a go – and a relief not to have accidentally shot anyone in the process but having visited the shooting school, I’m sure that would never happen.
Norman and his colleagues take safety seriously, making sure they showed each lady that the gun was empty before fitting it into their shoulder.
I may not have had a knack for shooting but one of my team-mates, Joanne Smith, certainly did.
She had never been shooting before but managed to hit the target on seven out of nine attempts.
Each team member took turns to shoot, recording their scores as they went, while the rest of us cheered when a target was hit.
I had a chat with Chris Talbot, who founded the Cheshire and North Wales Lady Taverners 10 years ago.
She is now a member of the Lady Taverners National Council, and tells me about the fundraising carried out by the organisation through events such as the shooting day.
Lady Taverners, an arm of international cricket charity the Lord’s Taverners, raises money to give disadvantaged and disabled children a sporting chance.
“In the last six years we have bought seven mini-buses in Cheshire and North Wales all costing between £42,000 and £48,000,” she explains.
“We are all volunteers and work hard to raise the money.”
The shooting day is a popular event and this year raised about £700.
After the clay pigeon shoot, the ladies enjoyed a lunch prepared by Denbighshire caterer Catherine Skate and found out who had won the day’s prizes.
This year there were joint winners, Davinia Mullock and Emma Greasey, while Jilley Parker won the conservation prize.
For more details on the Lady Taverners, go to www.lordstaverners.org/local-region/cheshirenorthwales.
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