Faye Wills on Clay Shooting

This is for all our followers who are into clays. We have Faye Wills guest blogging on the Firearms UK website about various Clay Shooting diciplines. Here’s her first post!

Hello there!

My name is Faye Wills, and I have been clay shooting for seven years. Well, trying to shoot for seven years. Shooting is, sadly, one of those sports that doesn’t receive a great deal of funding at the lower levels, is overlooked by the media (I mean come on, how many more world championships does George Digweed have to win before he gets interviewed by BBC Breakfast or featured on the evening news?!), and is unfortunately marred by the misconceptions surrounding the institution of game shooting.

…there were very few female role models in the shooting sports as well, and coverage in the media was severely lacking

So when it came to me starting my shooting career, I found that I was only really able to shoot once or twice a month. Cartridges are expensive, guns are expensive, even clays are expensive depending on where you go, and whilst trying to put myself through sixth form, university and driving lessons, I found that no matter how many hours I worked at my part-time job at the local shooting ground, the money just was not stretching far enough. I think also, truthfully, my heart wasn’t in it that much when I started. It was fun, yes, but I knew I wouldn’t ever be good enough to challenge the top shooters – bearing in mind that at this stage, there were very few female role models in the shooting sports as well, and coverage in the media was severely lacking, I don’t think I ever considered it to be a big part of who I am.

So fast forward seven years, and I’ve actually achieved a fair amount – and surprised myself with just how far I have come. I represented the county three times (in English Sporting, Olympic Trap and English Skeet), shot the Beretta World Championships (poorly, but I shot it nonetheless!), took part in the Essex Masters (which I shot better than the worlds, but only just!), shot a personal best English Sporting score of 64/70, and am now training on the British Shooting Talent Pathway for Olympic Skeet. Shooting is now not only a big part of who I am, but is one of the biggest contributing factors to who I am today. I was never really any good at sports as a kid, except for the brief stints at fencing and basketball during secondary school which I was marginally better than at other sports, and was always set to become an academic rather than an athlete, which I suppose is why I never thought shooting would be so important to me.

Now that I am considered to be an ‘athlete’, I thought I would share with you the basics of clay shooting. I want to encourage more people to take it up – especially women; dispel any misconceptions about the sport, and therefore make it more accessible. I will start by saying that clay shooting is not all the same. Whilst several people may think it to be restricted to the three Olympic disciplines they have seen on the television, it does actually comprise of at least 13 alternate disciplines that are all shot very differently. I will list the ones I can remember here for your perusal:

  • English Sporting
  • Sportrap
  • English Skeet
  • Olympic Skeet
  • American Skeet
  • FITASC Sporting
  • FITASC Sportrap
  • Automatic Ball Trap
  • Universal Trench
  • Double Trap
  • Olympic Trap
  • Down The Line
  • Helice ZZ

(I have probably forgotten some so please forgive me!)

And the best part is, just because you might be good at one does not mean you will be good at the others. For example, I was good at English Sporting and relatively ok at English Skeet, but when I shot Olympic Trap, I was terrible! That is one of the brilliant things about clay shooting; there is always something new to learn, which is why I recently changed disciplines to Olympic Skeet. I am absolutely loving learning something different and challenging myself in a way I wouldn’t have necessarily considered before, but all within a sport that I am familiar with.

…there is such a wonderful clay shooting community that it is an absolute privilege to be part of.

Next, there is such a wonderful clay shooting community that it is an absolute privilege to be part of. Whilst clay shooting can be considered to be a niche sport, it means that you regularly run into the same people at practice or competitions, and you bond over the shared love of a sport that is almost a complete secret from other people. You converse about what cartridges you are using, when you changed your gun, what grounds you’ve shot recently, whether you’ve tried a new discipline, whether you are planning to or have just participated in the national competition, laughing at which stands you struggled with or the poor score you put in because the enjoyment comes from the shoot, not from the win.

So all in all, whilst it may be an expensive sport, clay shooting is one of the most fun and challenging sports I have ever taken up. It is a psychological game as much as it is a physical achievement; knowing your equipment as much as yourself. The risk is worth the reward, and I wouldn’t be the person I am now without it. I am proud to be called a clay shooter, and I hope to inspire other people to try it as well. #thisgirlcan

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Photo Credit to George Wills (Instagram)

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