Lady killers

New­ton Rigg Col­lege’s Cur­tis Mos­sop re­ports on a ladies-only shoot day with an all-fe­male stu­dent keeper­ing team

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - GAME SHOOTING -

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.

Crack team

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

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