Having represented Britain on the world stage, talented clay-pigeon shooter Anita North now focuses on sharing her skills with others
Having competed in the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, retiring has allowed Anita North time to get into the field and develop a passion for coaching. Now she wants to play her part in raising participation levels in shooting.
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I was 26 when I first handled a shotgun. By then I had married and moved from my home county of Shropshire to Cambridgeshire. During a weekend back home I tried clay shooting on the ‘Have a Go’ stand at the Midland Game Fair and I knew I’d found a new hobby, but not that shooting would become such an important part of my life.
I started shooting Sporting at my local small club on Sunday mornings and discovered there were other forms of clay shooting. I tried Down The Line (DTL) and instantly took to it as it brought out the competitor in me. With focus, I spent two years competing in DTL and started to win competitions, including national championships. I represented England as a member of the Ladies team at the DTL Home International match. But this was not enough for me – I wanted more – I wanted to compete in the Olympics.
Ian Coley was then the Team GB manager and I started to work with him to improve my shooting skills. I earned my first GB cap a year later, competing at the 1993 World Championships in Double Trap (DT). In parallel I tried Olympic Trap (OT), too. In 1999, I qualified for my first final in OT at a World Cup in Kumamoto, Japan, and finished sixth, earning a place at the World Cup Final in Kuwait later that year, where I won the bronze medal.
As well as national titles, team medals for GB at the European Championships and an individual silver medal at a World Cup in 2008, there were Commonwealth medals. In 2002, I competed for England in my first Commonwealth Games, winning two silver medals (team and individual). And in 2010 at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi I won team silver and individual gold.
In 2017, I retired from competing. Although I narrowly missed out on competing for GB in the Olympics, it has been quite a journey and one that I have loved. Retiring from competition meant I had time to go game shooting. As well as getting out into the field with a shotgun and, latterly, with a rifle, I have also done a loaders’ course. It’s hard to beat a day in the field, with the added benefit that it provides something to eat at the end of the day, too.
My biggest passion now is coaching. I started coaching in 2015, encouraged by Martin Barker, founder of my local ground, Nuthampstead Shooting Ground. Personally, my competing success was down to working with some fantastic coaches, including Peter Boden, Joe Neville and Martin Barker. I gave up my office job and focused on developing coaching skills, including obtaining my ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) C then B licence. I love that I get to work with shooters of all ages, individuals and groups. My coaching work includes working with groups on the British Shooting Talent Pathway.
I would encourage all shooters to investigate the variety of forms of shooting that are available. You may be surprised by how much you can enjoy the different disciplines and you may just enhance your shooting skills. I am particularly keen to help more people try the Olympic disciplines. They are tough, they are challenging, but you can have a great deal of enjoyment shooting them.
I also have spent time building working relationships across the shooting world as we are better and stronger together. It is essential that the shooting community does everything possible to keep participation levels up in shooting, whether that is competitive clay or target shooting or game shooting to put something on the table. We have a role in spreading the positive message about shooting. I want to do my part in helping that. We have some amazing opportunities to do brilliant work together and I am excited to see what the future holds.
TOP TIPS: Get the basics right: your kit and your shoot routine (process) are the foundations of your shooting. Good, solid foundations make for good shooting. Invest in both to ensure your foundations are solid. Get the right gun. One that suits you and is right for the purpose. Your gun should fit you – don’t fit yourself around the gun. It is important that you can mount the gun correctly and you can handle a good-fitting gun correctly and safely. You may invest in gun fit but do you invest time in practising gun mount and handling? Focus on doing it correctly. It’s worth it – your shooting will benefit and you will have a happier experience.