Support through Sport UK spoke to Victoria Latcham about disability clay pigeon shooting …
Hi Victoria. How did you get into shooting and how has it changed your life?
Shooting has changed my life so dramatically and yet I’ve only been shooting since August of last year!
I have a spinal cord injury and had lost my self-esteem and self-confidence. This wasn’t helped by the fact that people would always address whoever I was with (be it my personal assistant, friend or family member) rather than addressing me.
To start with, I just had the very basic of care during the day - so my life was very restricted. I was bed-bound for several years and it felt like my life was over. I then learnt that I could employ a personal assistant. However, unfortunately, I found that I would hide behind my assistant. I then got a new assistant - Kelly - who encouraged me to go out more and try new things … and that’s how I got into shooting.
I heard about an open day at a local shooting ground and went along. I received a small safety talk and then had a go at shooting a moving target. It was when I got back home that I received a phone call asking if I would like to be trained.
Shooting helped me to get my life back on track and also helped me to better manage my pain. I’m now on less morphine. This isn’t because my pain levels have decreased - it’s because I’ve built myself up with weights, exercises and eating plans. So now when I move the pain is less noticeable.
When I started shooting, I used to hide behind my personal assistant - but as I got more and more into the sport, I slowly but surely came out of my shell. I began talking and interacting with more people - not only at the shooting ground but everywhere I went. Now I’m not afraid to speak up if someone goes to speak to whoever I’m with rather than me!
Are there many disabled clay pigeon shooters? And, in particular, female, disabled shooters?
No, there aren’t very many disabled clay pigeon shooters and I’m the first female disabled skeet shooter in the UK.
There’s a small group of disabled shooters who meet at different grounds, but they’re based in the South of England There’s nothing like that here in the North.
Going forwards, what are your ambitions?
As well as being the first female disabled (wheelchair-bound) skeet shooter in the UK, I’m also learning a new discipline called DTL (Down The Line) which is going really well. I’m looking to enter the British Open in July this year.
My big goal is to shoot for my country in competitions around the world and even compete at the Olympics, shooting in both disciplines.
What would you say to any disabled people reading this who are keen to start shooting? And what should their first steps be?
Firstly, I’d say you’ll love it! I certainly do - especially because of how far I’ve come in such a short space of time.
Secondly, I would suggest that you look in Forward or Able Magazines to see if there are any open days near you, where you can go and have a go at clay pigeon shooting.
Thirdly, I’d say scour the internet for shooting grounds in your area. Then check out their websites to see if they’re disability-friendly. Lots of them say that they are but they’re not fully wheelchair-friendly, due to mud, pebbles etc. So it’s a good idea to phone up the grounds and check.
After all that, enquire about opening times and see whether they can offer you a lesson. No shooting ground will allow you to shoot unless you have had a lesson first. They will teach you about the different disciplines and the targets you have for each one.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Victoria, and best of luck with all your upcoming competitions.