I was really looking forward to going to the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club Conference. I was going to be taking photographs, I was going to be exhibiting my bespoke shoot photography gifts, and I was going to be in a room full of ladies … and guns!! This was going to be great …. and let’s not even start on the cakes!!
The conference this year was only the second ever, but promised to be great. It was held at the Warwick/Stratford Hilton, ideally located just off the M40. Some fantastic trade stands, some amazing keynote speakers and superbly organised by founder of the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club – Victoria Knowles-Lacks – bigger and greater success was almost guaranteed. The club was founded by Victoria in 2011 to facilitate better, more inclusive, shooting opportunities for ladies, for those who have never shot to those competing nationally and internationally. In particular, shooting that includes tea and cake!
To be honest, I really did not know what to expect, but I was completely surprised. Unlike similar events where you get a room full of shooting blokes, there was complete attentiveness and a hunger to learn from the speakers. Blokes at events like these tend to use the speakers to show off their own immense knowledge (or otherwise) by bouncing their own opinions off them without actually listening. I found it refreshing to see an audience intent on learning and I think it helped me concentrate on the speakers myself.
First up to the podium were the ladies from the Shooting Times – Lucy King (aka “Mrs Smarty Breeks”) and Abigail Aldis. Both intent on injecting real news back into the shooting media, and the impact that other world events may be having on our sport. With the focus of the day on ladies shooting, they also emphasised the importance of making shooting media more accessible and inclusive to all.
Then we welcomed Ed Solomons to speak – a respected shooting coach and a member of the GB Shooting Team. He talked us through his move from a mainstream career into doing what he loves best full time. He talked through advice on coaching, how to plan your coaching and to make sure you refresh at intervals too. The one thing I will bring away from Ed’s talk would be – “coaching on stuff you can hit is just expensive practice”, and what he meant was of course was to focus your coaching on what challenges you.
Up next was Liam Bell – Head Gamekeeper at the Millichope Estate- with his view on a “Keepers Year”. This was a fascinating insight into the workings of a large estate shoot. He took us through hatching and rearing, husbandry and pest control. What particularly interested me, as I had never heard it before, was the phenomena of “mule” birds. Where a hen bird’s ovaries are damaged, by shot perhaps, her plumage will start to appear “more male” – their tail grows longer and their head plumage grows darker. They never go completely over to male plumage, but somewhere in between. Very interesting.
After a short shopping and refreshment break we had the Browning Boys take the stage to take us through the latest range of Brownings on offer. An entertaining pair – David “Tom Cruise” Stapley and Allister “Funny Man” Barker, gave us in the ins and outs of the latest over and unders and semi-autos and a guide to how to clean your gun properly.
Apparently CIF, Cillit Bang and Castrol GTX are not recognised cleaning and gun-care agents ….
Next, I got to listen to someone I have been connected to for some while on various social media platforms, but at last able to find out a great deal more about what they do. Peter Glenser, BASC council member (up for election by the way), barrister for all things firearms related – public, police, military – and shooter. Peter shared with us his list of the 7 ways you are most likely to lose your gun … and tips on how this might be avoided! We also had a little quiz to see if we could identify legal or otherwise firearms – the results were a little shocking and went to demonstrate how difficult it is for a firearms officer on the street to make an identification at stressful moments. Thought provoking and very informative.
And ALL this before lunch!!
After lunch we had fashion show from Rosie Priest of Malmo Guns. Rosie was demonstrating all the latest traditional and contemporary shoot clothing particular suited for ladies, and was advocating mixing it up a bit with high street pieces to try and inject some individuality, to help you stand out from the crowd, and for some added practicality.
Nice work, great fun and “hurrah” to the models for daring to don tweed for what was a very warm day!!
Chris Brookes of BASC was next up who gave us the lowdown on the work of BASC, their ethics and the benefits of belonging to such an organisation. As a “deer man” himself he introduced the room to the “deeriere” competition that they were holding on the BASC stand (as the most we see of some deer is their bottoms as they run, identifying from this viewpoint is challenging!), and then proceeded to talk to us about stalking opportunities with BASC and the variety of deer breeds currently roaming the British Isles.
Robert Everitt of Hull Cartridge, was entertaining, if sadly brief in his presentation. However, he was able to clear up some of the mystery surrounding cartridge selection, load, wadding and cartridge construction. Steel shot came under the spotlight again, and Robert was keen to remind us to “up” the shot size when converting from lead shot to steel to retain the hitting power.
Our last speaker of the day was honorary solicitor for CPSA, Laura Saunsbury. She gave us a little review of gun law, some of the pitfalls unfortunate licence holders find themselves in and a few useful avoidance tactics … including behavioral advice whilst using social media!!
And amongst all this was the very important cake competition where esteemed guests were invited to score the assembled cakes and pastries, with the winner being a very impressive teapot!
All in all the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club Conference was a fantastic, and very full, day. It was an impressive event, one which I know for sure will run and run – it deserves to. You never know, with undoubted extra interest, perhaps next year it will stretch over 2 days? Victoria was not dismissing that idea when we spoke about it before I left ….
To view all the pictures from the day – Click Here
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