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How I chose my first gun

Kaylie Bloxham enjoys shooting but had never had her own gun. She decided it was about time she made a purchase and after some deliberation decided on a Browning 20-bore. We asked her some questions on how she made the decision and her thoughts along the way.

lady gun

A woman Gun having some lessons at the West London Shooting School

Kaylie says: “I think when it comes to gameshooting, often a girl’s first experience will be attending to accompany a Gun, rather than shooting herself. In my experience, if you’re fortunate enough to be given a shot or two, typically you’re handed a spare which is the least favoured in the cabinet because it’s a heavy plank of wood. I’ve been looking forward to having my own gun that I know fits and that I’ve shot well with at the shooting ground, so I will have full confidence when I get out in the field.”

How did you start the search for your gun?

I’m very lucky that through my company Bloxham PR I work with the West London Shooting School. Their on-site gun room has a really strong collection of new and second-hand guns, both over-and-under and side-by-side, available in a range of price points – from entry level through to high-end. It was the ideal place for me to go, especially as I had the opportunity to try the guns before I purchased, which proved to be invaluable.

Had your friends recommended anything?

Friends had recommended lots of different guns and to some extent that had influenced my initial thoughts on what gun I would choose. I didn’t go to the Gun Room thinking I would buy a Browning, but I just felt I shot best with it. I think that’s why it was so good to try a few options as it’s such a personal choice.

Did you consider buying second-hand?

I wasn’t against buying a second-hand gun but I chose to go for a new gun.

Are there any guns you’ve shot with in the past that you particularly liked?

I’d shot my friend’s 20-bore Caesar Guerini before and really like that, and previously I’ve shot both 12 and 20-bore Berettas – they are great guns.

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Mark Heath shows Kaylie all the different options available

Does the weight of a gun concern you?

This was something I was very conscious of when making the decision of which gun to go for. I gave West London Shooting School’s Mark Heath my brief – what I was looking for, what I would be using my gun for and my budget, and he suggested we try an entry level 12-bore Beretta and Browning, and the same in 20-bore.

It was such a brilliant way to help me choose as there was a clear winner out of the four guns I tried, and it wasn’t the one I was expecting! I found the 12-bore Browning too heavy and the 20-bore Beretta too light, so it was a decision out of the 20-bore Browning or the 12-bore Beretta. Given the type of shooting I plan to do with the gun, I choose the 20-bore Browning and definitely feel I made the right decision. It may have been beginners’ luck, but I smashed the first clay I shot at and continued to shoot well with it.

female Guns

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Do you think you will shoot game much or mostly clays?

I’d like it to be a relatively even mix of the two, though I envisage shooting clays more due to how accessible, and generally more affordable they are.

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Kaylie having instruction with her new Browning 20-bore

How often do you think you’ll go shooting?

I’m hoping to go shooting a lot more, which is the main reason for purchasing my own shotgun. It’s always been very sporadic, but I love it so much when I get the chance, that I’m keen to have a more frequent, consistent approach to my shooting. I celebrated my thirtieth birthday this year and thought it made the perfect present!

lady gun

Ensuring that gun fit is right for a novice woman Gun

Have you applied for your shotgun licence yet?

Yes, and it arrived today! I’m very excited.

We asked Mark Heath of the West London Shooting School (who regularly reviews guns for Shooting Times) which guns he’d say that a novice woman shooter should consider. He said:

“Often people will have a preference or idea of what they want before they come to buying their first gun. I feel it’s important to understand what they want the gun for, how often they will be shooting and the type of shooting and their budget to make a more informed suggestion.

“With a view to which shotguns I feel are best suited to a novice female shooters, mainstream gunmakers are always a good place to start; Beretta Silver Pigeon, Vittoria or a 690, and from the Browning range a 525, 725 or the Liberty light. It doesn’t always follow that ladies need a smaller calibre or specialist ladies gun. What’s important is what suits the individual.

“It’s good to try the guns where possible, and once a decision has been made I would always recommend a gun-fit. We are all different heights and builds and shotgun shooting, be it game or clay, is a hand-eye coordination sport. Using a gun that shoots where you look and is comfortable to use, is critical to building success and enjoying your shooting. Shooting with an ill-fitting gun will always be a struggle and in the worst case scenario may cause significant bruising.”