Is that lead slow which is fir’d from a gun? – Love’s Labour’s Lost
Hunter green wellies, touches of cashmere, Lamb’s wool and tweed - the hallmarks of country apparel. To me, country apparel has always been the apex of British fashion - and a style of which I have long been enamoured.
I regularly sported wellies and short, tweed skirts through the sunny streets of Manhattan - only to have a chorus of taxi drivers bellowing at me at every turn: “You expectin’ rain, sweetheart?”
Thankfully, my lifestyle has finally caught up with my wardrobe. But what about the pursuits for which country clothing was actually intended? One of the joys of my newfound rural life is having opportunities to experience country sports.
Shooting has always held a certain fascination, with “the Glorious Twelfth” being the centre of shooting lore. The start of the grouse season is indeed the stuff of legend - and luxury. Grouse shooting enthusiasts pay high prices in pursuit of their passion. A 200-brace day on one of the more prestigious moors, for eight or nine guns, would cost more than £38,000; and that’s before adding in agents’ commissions, ammunition, keepers, loaders or beaters tips, insurance, food, travel and accommodation. That’s a costly bit of tweed!
Before biting such a choice bullet, I set my sights on a shooting experience closer to home. My brother-in-law is a retired Warwickshire Police Inspector and former team manager of the GB Police Clay Shooting Team. His shooting career was inspired at the age of 10, after hearing news of Bob Braithwaite’s remarkable clay shooting victory at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and this marked the birth of a lifelong passion, which has seen him win numerous national Police and inter-service titles including the Services Clay Classic in 2007.
For the past two years he has coached the Warwickshire College shooting team, and he has led them to achieve back to back victories in the 2011/2012 Schools Challenge events at Bredon School in Gloucestershire, winning two £1500 shotguns. This year, Warwickshire College were also awarded “School of the Year” by The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association. On the back of this success and in line with their ‘Enterprise College’ status, (Shooting being worth an estimated £2 billion to the UK economy) Warwickshire College are now exploring opportunities to offer their shooting coaching facilities to a wider public.
One mild, summer’s day, I donned my wellies and met him at Edge Hill Shooting Ground, where he introduced me to the joys of clay shooting. The experience was nothing short of exhilarating and empowering: the feel of firepower, the joy of precision and success and hitting the targets.
I had expected that I would be utterly useless at shooting a swiftly moving object out of the sky, but I surprised myself! I have no doubt this was much more than a mere case of beginner’s luck. More than being just a sure and able shot, my brother-in-law is also an excellent teacher. And - he looks great in tweed!