Monday, 25 February 2013

Fat Woman and the clay shooting competition

Fat Woman has got rather in to clay pigeon shooting over the last year. Fat Woman would be even more into shooting if Thin Husband hadn't got her to agree to a sports budget. Nevertheless, Fat Woman gets to shoot at least once a month, sometimes twice.

One, no, two of the best experiences Fat Woman has had shooting were at the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club.  Fat Woman learned about the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club through Twitter, and despite having only had a couple of hours of shooting tuition went along to their Cambridge meeting back in September and had a lovely time. This year Fat Woman went to the S&CB meeting at the A1 Gun Club in Barnet and had another lovely time. Fat Woman was surprised to find she was now considered an "experienced" lady gun, but these things are relative and there were many, many beginners there. The highlight of the day for Fat Woman was receiving the pink "Winner" rosette for being the experienced lady gun who broke the most clays. This has warmed the cockles of Fat Woman's heart and she displays the rosette in her living room along with the engraved hip flask that was her prize. Fat Woman thinks that any woman who wants to have a go at shooting should visit a  S&CB club meeting.

Much encouraged by two successful S&CB meetings, Fat Woman signed up for a Clay Pigeon Shooting Associate (CPSA) registered shoot. Fat Woman is a "clubman" member of the CPSA. This means she may shoot at competitions on her home gun club but her scores will not be held by the CPSA. Fat Woman's score wasn't embarrassing, but it certainly wasn't good enough for her to want it kept as a matter of public record.

On this occasion there were 102 shooters, of which just three were female. Fat Woman can tell this from the day's records because there weren't any women shooting at the same time as her. Fat Woman knew that shooting was a male-dominated sport but hadn't quite understood the reality. When someone says that they had a lovely time at the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club they mean that they turned up, were welcomed in by someone who was expecting them, met lots of friendly people who would make them welcome and make conversation with them. Following the usual social patterns, people would ask is this your first time, who do you know here, have you had far to come, have you shot much before, and so on until mutual connections are established. Further conversation and bonding happens over tea and cake immediately after shooting. This has worked very well for Fat Woman who now follows several S&CB club members on Twitter and is even meeting up with some for more shooting.

Fat Woman found that CPSA registered shoots aren't like the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club. Of course, the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club does not have such a strong competitive element, despite handing out very attractive hip flasks and pink rosettes as prizes. Nor do the organisers of registered shoots have everyone bring a cake to go with the post-shoot tea. However, Fat Woman doesn't think it would kill some of these men to make eye contact, or even say "hello" in response to here friendly greeting. Fat Woman does not like being grunted at unless it is by pigs who have seen her coming with the slop bucket.

Apparently a shoot where "everyone is very friendly" does not mean the same thing as it does when you are referring to S&CB. Fat Woman concludes that in normal shooting "very friendly" must mean that no one thumps you, trips you up or steals your cartridge bag. It certainly doesn't mean that people smile at you or even talk to you. People on a shooting forum have said that it gets friendlier the more you go, but Fat Woman isn't keen on splashing out £50 every month in order to spend two hours feeling like the invisible person until some people start to (a) recognise her and (b) treat her as a person rather than a SCARY, SCARY FEMALE THING. Fat Woman would rather go shooting with a friend the day after the registered shoot and have a go at the lovely, imaginative set-ups without being bothered by scoring or limited to the number of clays.

Fat Woman enjoyed the actual shooting. The stands were challenging, and Fat Woman managed to hit something on all but the hardest two stands. If Fat Woman had learnt a clay before then she was able to hit it on the day itself. Fat Woman needs to learn how to do fast clays, further away clays, and how to switch between two extremes such as a low rabbit followed by a high going away bird. Fat Woman made one new friend, a veteran who was comfortable enough with his own performance to be able to give Fat Woman some advice. The coaching annoyed a AA shooter who apparently found it distracting, but as several people pointed out this was only after he missed a very tricky rabbit and it was possibly more sour grapes than finding Fat Woman's existence an annoyance.

Fat Woman did find some value in being one of just three women in a male-dominated event. Even though Fat Woman scored just 39 out of 100, she was the second-placed lady gun. Fat Woman for the almost-win!

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