It’s Saturday morning and instead of dropping the children off at ballet classes and football training I’m frantically fumbling around in my wardrobe for any item of clothing that resembles tweed. I had to look ‘posh’, or so I thought! I’d kindly been invited to go clay pigeon shooting by Louise Alford, the founder of The Yorkshire Fillies, a group of ladies who regularly meet up to ‘smash clays.’ The day was to celebrate their first birthday as a group; a group that since its inception has hosted multiple events with over 150 ladies shooting and have raised a substantial amount of money for WORKS (Worthwhile Occupational & Recreational Krafts) a charity providing life skills and occupational training for people with learning disabilities.
The last time I attempted clay pigeon shooting I ‘smashed’ very few clays and returned with a bruised ego and shoulder to match.
In my ignorance, I honestly believed that people who partook in these types of outdoor pursuits owned ponies, enjoyed polo and said ‘ra,ra,ra’ a lot. I was worried about ‘minding my Ps and Qs’, so imagine my relief when I heard their recognisable south Yorkshire tones coupled with the odd colourful word on missing a clay. These girls were certainly game for a laugh and over its first year The Yorkshire Fillies have continued to attract women from non-shooting backgrounds, and it’s clear to see why The Yorkshire Fillies have an army of members with painted nails who love the smell of gun oil.
These are ladies who love to laugh, they love to natter, they love to party but, most of all they love to shoot, and by golly, could they shoot… and not surprisingly, much better than me. These lasses challenge the misconception that shooting is a man’s game. This really isn’t an elitist sport, and despite my misses, they continued to encourage me until I eventually managed to ‘smash some clays’. When the clay explodes in the air, it’s incredibly therapeutic with one of them remarking (I won’t say who!), “smashing a clay is better than sex!” – just goes to show that these girls really do just wanna have fun!
Photos by Mark Davis.