Clay shooters gunning for victory

The competition gets underway for Newcastle’s shooting club. Image: Elena FlotoThe competition gets underway for Newcastle’s shooting club. Image: Elena Floto

Sports Editor, Lucy Brogden, spoke to the President of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Club, Elena Floto, to find out more.

Newcastle University’s clay pigeon shooting club welcomes students of all backgrounds and abilities to their ranks. Members, ranging from beginners to experienced shooters, come together to train at Steve Smiths Shooting Ground in Dinnington, Northumberland every Wednesday.

The twenty-minute drive from Newcastle to the range gives students the opportunity to explore more of Newcastle, and step out into the country. With the club attracting over 50 members, it seems that plenty of students are eager to get involved.

The shooting club allows students to join throughout the year, and provides all necessary equipment to members, including shotguns and ammunition, which are all kept in the club’s off-campus safe. Members are also able to shoot using their own guns if they prefer.

“Members, ranging from beginners to experienced shooter, come together to train”

The club never shoot live game, and use clays instead. These targets look like small frisbees, and are designed to be durable enough to survive being thrown into the air, but fragile enough to shatter when they are struck. When hit, the clays disintegrate, and the immediate residual powder, gives the shooter confirmation that they have successfully struck the clay. Clays come in a variety of different colours, as this enables shooters to clearly see their result against the backdrop.

In shooting, there are both individual and single sex team events. Teams are made up of four members, and shoot what is known as a ‘flush’. Teams are positioned in a stand (effectively, a wooden cage), with only one open side, and they shoot at a total of 100 clays. Four clays are released at a time, from a trap- a spring-loaded device capable of catapulting the clays up to 100 metres into the air.

Each member will shoot at their clay, and there is no break between each set of clays being released. Behind the stand, an official will count how many clays their shooter hits, and the four individual scores are added together to produce a team score, which is marked out of 100. In individual events, the shooter will call ‘pull’ when they wish for the clay to be released, and they will shoot at 100 clays.

“Other events to look forward to include the annual BUCS clay pigeon shooting competition”

The most notable social event in the shooting calendar is the St
Andrew’s Challenge and following after party: The Welly Ball (yes, this really does mean that all partygoers wear wellies with their black-tie outfits!), which was held in the opulent Kinkell Byre in St Andrews in November.

Other events to look forward to include the annual BUCS clay pigeon shooting competition, which is to be held at the West Midlands Shooting ground on the first weekend in December. Teams from across the country gather to collect BUCS points and the titles on offer for both teams and individual shooters.

Newcastle are sending twenty club members down to compete in the event: two male and two female individual shooters, three male teams, and a ladies team. The men’s first and second teams are expected to put in a strong performance against tough
competition from the likes of Harper Adams University in Shropshire and the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.

In February, the club will be hosting their own competition at the prestigious Bywell shooting ground in Morpeth, Northumberland. Teams from across the U.K will come to the Toon to compete in the event, with the weekend’s festivities culminating in the ‘Guns and Horses Ball’- an after party held jointly between the shooting club and the polo club to celebrate the weekend.

We look forward to hearing how the club get on over the coming year.

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