Country pursuits & Clay Shooting in Beverley

I love the country life. My heart lifts when I’m surrounded by nature, birds, bees and trees. Seeing the new born lambs in the fields frolicking and playing never fails to put a smile on my face. Although I love the excitement of big cities and exploring new places, when I’m at home I like to get in my scruffs and stomp around muddy fields in my wellies.

I’m often found rambling along deserted country lanes, through overgrown woodland, wildflower meadows or riding horses along the beautiful Beverley Westwood Pasture. If there happens to be a food reward at the end of it, all the better and we’re lucky to have several amazing gastro pubs within a few miles.
On such a weekend where we had no major plans, we woke on a clear spring morning to a cockerel declaring it was day break and the faint sounds of gun fire coming from the nearby clay pigeon shooting centre. Feeling excited that today we would actually be taking part in the shooting, we prepared ourselves for country pursuits.

We dressed appropriately in tweed and checks, before adding body warmers and jackets, just in case the weather turned. Grabbing our bikes, we tootled down the country road towards the gun club with the sounds getting nearer and the slight smell of gunpowder tinging the air.
Signs of spring were in full flow, with daffodils giving off their yellow warmth and trees starting to fill out again after the sparse winter.

We reached the woods and entered with trepidation, scared that we might encounter Elmer Fudd but there was no such danger.

As we reached the clearing in the woods, we saw the gun toting folk safely tucked away in the grounds. The little shooting lodge and car park were busy but someone had arrived in style, leaving their golf buggy in a prime spot.

Outside people took up places at picnic tables, reclining slightly and enjoying the sun on their faces. Others were inside, choosing from the offerings in the small café, and many others gathered around display boards talking animatedly. It turns out there was a GB shooting competition taking place that weekend and the ladies had just taken their turn and were anxiously awaiting their results.
We met Hamish, our lesson instructor, and instantly he put us at ease. We walked to a separate quiet clearing from where the busy professionals were showing off their skills. The boys chatted about their trip to Edinburgh last year where they had a taste of clay pigeon shooting but modestly claimed to not remember much about it, whilst I nervously anticipated my turn, being a complete amateur.

The guys took to the instruction and before long were hitting the clays fairly consistently, with Hamish throwing in the occasional curve ball and sending two clays flying through the air in quick succession. The sound of the shot firing, shattering the thick pot, and the pieces thudding on the floor, were the only sounds in the quiet countryside.

Then it was time for my turn. I’m not normally one to look for concessions as a female but the guns the guys used were enormous and I was concerned about how heavy they would be. But I need not have worried because Hamish brought out a smaller gun just for me.

We started easy and tested out different techniques with one eye closed, both eyes open and different stances. I had a few lucky shots to begin with which left me grinning from ear to ear but it didn’t last long. It was a pretty mixed performance but I suppose that’s the point of learning. I definitely felt my stance improve and my confidence lift by the end. There’s something quite cool about feeling the cold metal under your control, taking the shot and then cocking the gun to reveal the smoking barrel.  

After a round or two, we moved to a different target with a more challenging angle, which showed how we could progress over further lessons. It’s quite an addictive sport and nothing beats the rush you get when you hit a clay, or even several in a row.

After our lesson, we headed back to the clubhouse for refreshments and to book for next time. The resident pooches lazed around the office sleepily whilst the pros cheered and high fived at their successes.
After the ‘hunt’ comes the feast and so we set off on our bikes in search of food, passing various drinking holes and arriving at a village pub in time for the sun to peep out after a cloudy interval.
We took up our places in the beer garden, the most English of pastimes, and supped on our ciders.

I admired the pizza oven sat in the corner of the garden while the guys appreciated the outdoor TV showing sport. Soon dinner arrived and it couldn’t have come quick enough as we were all starving. Silence descended as we concentrated on filling our bellies.

The carnivores (them) tucked into big wedges of meaty pies, with homemade chunky chips and rich, thick gravy, which looked like a great big stodgy comforting hug on a plate.

The herbivore (me) went for a pesto and balsamic vegetable pasta with a roughly torn hunk of garlic bread placed on top, which was delicious.

Our grumbles of hunger were soon replaced with groans of being too full and so we settled in chit chatting well into the late afternoon.

Soon a cool nip rolled in on the air and it was time to make our way home, meandering through the lanes and enjoying the last of the daffodil scented countryside air.

Are you country dweller or a city person? I'd love to hear if you've tried clay shooting before and what you think of it. 


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