If any of you have been checking Instagram, Twitter or Facebook over the last couple days I think it’s been fairly obvious what I got up to on Friday (Girls day’s out always equal a zillion photos don’t they?!), but I really wanted to share more than just a couple of photos with you because the experience was so incredibly memorable. For those of you that have had a digital detox since Thursday last week, I’ll fill you in – I was privileged enough to be invited to attend a Ladies only Game day at the stunning and much coveted Rievaulx Estate in North Yorkshire.
I’ve already spoken to you all about my feelings towards shooting game in my recent Shot to Pot post, in which I shared my experience of my very first game day, so I’ll not harp on about that you’ll be pleased to hear! But I will say that Friday’s day was in principle the same kind of experience, albeit in a much more glamorous way with more challenging shooting.
So how did this game day come about?
Well, first of all I have to mention Femmes Fatales here. I know, I know, I do go on about Femmes Fatales an awful lot but that’s because it’s become such a huge part of my social life. The club has provided me with the opportunity to gain in confidence with my shooting, visit some of the best grounds the country has to offer but most importantly, has enabled me to meet some of my best friends. I can’t put in to words just how great this club is to meet new people – you’ll just have to take my word for it! But I will say that I now have such a great group of friends, that are not just ‘occasionally see whilst shooting’ friends but true friends for life. And it’s this group of awesome ladies that got together for the game day last Friday. It’s at this point that I have to mention one of these awesome women in particular – Rachel Carrie. We all know Rachel (if you don’t know her, where have you been hiding?!) as one of the driving forces and reasons behind Femmes Fatales, and as a role model for Ladies shooting and hunting, and it’s thanks to Rachel that the Game day even came to fruition. Rachel is so passionate about encouraging more women into the sport and advocating safe, sustainable shooting that encourages conservation, a field-to-fork eating mentality and ensuring everyone enjoys their experience that she decided to host a game day just for us girls, along with the brilliant Guy Ralph from Driven Shooting.
Friday 13th may be unlucky for some..but certainly not us!
Having limited game shooting experience, I have to admit that leading up to the day I was a mixture of incredibly excited and nervous. Excited because I was lucky enough to experience some of the best shooting in the country, with a fantastic group of ladies in the most stunning scenery but nervous because we were about to experience some the best shooting the country has to offer! Running up to the event I got fed up of hearing “you’ll have to be a good shot to hit anything up there”, “don’t be disappointed if you don’t get anything”, “think of the highest thing you’ve shot at home and triple it”, “you won’t even see them coming..or going!”, “the best shots find that kind of shooting challenging”, I was also a little conscious that some of the girls had considerable game experience (although some had never shot game before), oh and that I happened to be sharing a peg with one of the best lady shots out there! The anticipation of waiting for the first shot of the day was immense, but I am so pleased to say that I didn’t embarrass myself at all – in fact I shot really well – some of the best shots I’ve ever had (much to the surprise of male shots I know back home!) and I’m convinced that’s because of the company and encouragement that everyone gave to each other.
Taking it back a step…
I really do have to go back a few steps here and tell you about the evening before, as I’ve mentioned so many times the actual shooting is such a small part of the day itself, and Friday was no different. So Thursday evening after work, we all headed up to the picturesque market town of Helmsley – well renowned for hosting numerous shooting parties, it seems to be the place to stay before your shoot. Rachel and Guy had already organised so much for us, but as a very special extra, our night began by visiting Carter’s Countrywear where we had been invited for cocktails and to exclusively browse their collections. I mean what girl doesn’t love the opportunity to shop, but Carters really was a treat. The shop is famous for providing elegant, Saville row bespoke tailored shooting suits (I’m definitely heading back up there to treat myself to one!) as well as the classic countrywear brands – it’s a must visit place for anyone that wants to look great whilst remaining practical out in the field.
After a spot of shopping we headed to our accommodation for the evening – the gorgeous Black Swan at Helmsley. We were treated to a delicious three-course meal prepared by some of the best chefs, in the private dining room which was decorated so beautifully for the occasion. The food was to die for, I’d recommend booking a weekend away just to experience the food and the hotel even if you’re not in to shooting! So after a few drinks and a lot of chatting (the hot topic of conversation had to be what everyone had chosen to wear tomorrow – we are girls after all!) we retired to our rooms feeling super excited and all set for the big day ahead.
The night before..a stunning meal consisting of risotto (complete with truffle cheese toastie!), Vension, creamy bulgar wheat and liquorice beetroot followed by cheesecake – but not the conventional way!
Goody bag treats!
I almost forgot to mention! In the excitement of all of the other treats we had been provided, we definitely weren’t expecting anything else, but waiting for us at the dinner table were the most amazing goody bags – it felt like Christmas day! Filled with the best of the best – no chance of re-gifting anything here, we were treated to all of this:
- A huge bottle of Williams Chase‘s award winning sloe gin (it’s delicious I can already vouch for that!)
- A pair of House of Cheviot shooting socks – you’ll know from my previous posts (Something to Knock your Socks Off!) just how amazing they are!
- A gorgeous scarf from Carters Countrywear – I couldn’t wait to use mine so I wore it on Friday!
- A beautiful handmade fur pompom pin and pheasant greetings card from Kate Latimer – this will look amazing on any outfit, but I’m thinking it will particularly go with a smart jacket for a standout look at the races
- Williams Chase gin (yep, more!) and popcorn – that’s also delicious and didn’t last the journey home! We also got a brilliant book from Chase with lots of yummy cocktail recipes
- Discounts from lots of others including Woodcock & Snipe and The Black Swan at Helmsley
as if that wasn’t amazing enough – Gamebore Cartridges sponsored our day so we were treated to the best cartridges (after Friday I am definitely swearing by Black Gold Game Performance!).
The Big Day..
Well, we woke to a blanket of snow which made for the best scenery and a lot of excitement! After a safety briefing in Helmsley square (where, incidently we were not the only shooting party), we were escorted to Rievaulx in convoy to our first drive of the day, a beautiful valley-like setting with snow-capped trees as high as anything to the front and back of us, it really was like something you’d see on a postcard. As I mentioned, everyone was feeling pretty nervous when the whistle went but after the first few shots were fired we settled into the pace and relaxed. I have to say that sharing my peg with the wonderful Hannah really topped off my day – it’s great company sharing a peg and having someone that is as good a shot as her really helped me with my shooting too! We finished the first drive with a spot of Pol Roger Champagne and Williams Chase Sloe gin to warm the cockles and then it was on to our next drive.
Say Selfie! With my lovely friends Chloe and Hannah and a team selfie with our very own paperazzi for the day, Jonathon!
The day followed much the same suit, with wonderful hospitality in the most amazing settings between each drive and everyone getting along brilliantly. Every single lady shot fantastically well, some had experienced their first birds of their shooting careers and others had experienced some particular highs – Lydia definitely earned ‘shot of the day’ title and I had a few particularly excellent shots (not my words!) which I was thrilled about.
A day to remember and an experience to never forget..
With the daylight drawing in and the day nearing a close everyone was disappointed for the day to be over but delighted by what we had experienced – great company, fabulous hospitality, fantastic surroundings topped off by the snow making it even more memorable and most of all some of the best shooting I have ever experienced, it was certainly one to remember.
Thanks to Rachel and Guy and the amazing Sponsors, absolutely everyone had an experience of a lifetime, I couldn’t recommend Driven Shooting enough to everyone that’s interested in shooting – you are sure to be in for an incredible day. All I can say is, roll on next season – I just want to do it all over again!