Newton Rigg College’s Curtis Mossop reports on a ladies-only shoot day with an all-female student keepering team
Shooting is becoming ever more accessible to a greater audience, none more so than women. This increasing popularity has driven the creation of fantastic communities such as Femmes Fatales and the Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club, allowing women of all ages and abilities to get involved and meet like-minded individuals.
Traditionally, gamekeeping and wildlife management courses at further education level have been very male dominated. However, in the past few years there has been a steady increase in the number of young women applying for, and enrolling on to, full-time courses at Newton Rigg College. The current academic year has attracted the highest number yet, with female students making up just over 20 per cent of the group. “Only a fifth of students are female, that’s not very good”, you might think, but in only three years we have seen an eight per cent increase, which is something to be celebrated.
Several months ago, a plan was hatched to put together a ladies’ day that we would host on the shoot at Newton Rigg. The added twist was an all-female gamekeeping team made up of students. Gender doesn’t matter, of course, but for this day we wanted to celebrate women within all forms of shooting sports.
The day was upon us and excitement levels were building. With the help of Claire Sadler, who had been a huge supporter of my vision of the day, we had put together a crack team of lady Guns. Student headkeeper Grace Patterson gathered her immediate team and methodically went through each drive. Her two underkeepers for the day were
Lily Twigger and Alice Cushnie, each making mental notes of the hedgerows and unharvested headlands that needed to be blankedin. Leading the pickers-up was Ella Stapley, who passed on Grace’s instructions to her small team, complete with a pack of Labradors, cockers, springers and even a Clumber spaniel.
As the beaters moved off to line out, student shoot captain Kirstan Harpham welcomed the Guns and delivered the safety briefing. Though she admitted to being nervous, Kirstan did a great job and gave the women a brief synopsis of the day and explained the
Olivia Ford takes a shot at a high partridge