This time last year a small group of ladies brought together by ladies-shooting.com headed up to Stamford in Lincolnshire for a small driven game day. Having been on one of the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club days a couple of weeks earlier I decided to take a day off work and see what game shooting was like by covering the day photographically. So on Monday 23rd January 2012 I was introduced to the thrills of driven pheasant shooting.
Up until then, I'd only ever shot once (badly) so went along just for the experience. Little did I know that 12 months later, I'd be swapping my trusty Canons for a Shotgun with surprising results!
Since my first introduction to shooting, I've been asked to attend a couple of local game shoots and a number of clay shooting events at The Oxfordshire Shooting School to record the days activities. This has given me the chance to better understand shooting and also inspire me to learn to shoot so that I can apply my understanding to getting better shots with the camera!
So just before Christmas, my partner Mark and I headed over to the Oxfordshire Shooting School and shared a lesson. Within the first twenty minutes I could tell Mark was getting hooked, smashing clays left, right and centre, and despite a bad back I wasn't doing too bad either so another lesson was booked for the new year.
Beater's Day at Dudgrove, where I'd photographed earlier on in the season had been in my diary for a while and I was looking forward to getting some more images and expanding my shooting galleries, when out of the blue the shoot's Gamekeeper invited both Mark and I to share a peg on the day! With under a week to go I managed to get us a last minute clay lesson at OSS in preparation. Mark shot brilliantly, whereas I would have struggled to hit an Elephant and left the ground kicking myself for being so awful!
Before we knew it, Beater's Day was upon us and with the Land Rover packed with waterproofs and cameras we headed off for the shoot. Both of us were excited but also nervous, but we needn't have been! I choose to stick with the cameras for the first two drives in a bid to relax and try not to think about my awful shooting on Saturday. By the third drive it was time to put the cameras down and pickup a gun. I had three shots and missed them all behind!
After lunch I decided to leave the cameras in the truck and concentrate on shooting. Feeling more relaxed (possibly thanks to the Damson Vodka and Sloe Gin I'd sampled at lunch) we headed out to the drive and took up our positions. Gun in hand and focused on bagging my first pheasant it felt like an age before the birds started leaving the cover! But leave the cover they did and a few decided to fly straight towards me and at speed! Anthony whose gun I was borrowing for the drive was with me and signaled that an incoming bird was mine and I took my shot. I missed! A few more minutes passed and then a small group of birds where flush. Again Anthony signaled that I should try for the bird flying towards us. Gun mounted, safety off and with a deep breath I fired the shot and down came a nice hen bird! I couldn't contain my excitement! Typically I missed the next couple of birds but refocused and determined to leave the drive with a brace saw a lovely Cock pheasant come out and head my way. Making sure the bird was in my range I took my shot and added my second to the bag!
Mark and I both had a great day and can't wait for next season! A big thank you to Mick and everyone else at Dudgrove for making our day memorable!
All images from today can be found here http://bit.ly/WsPYG8