Georgie David is a long time S&CBC girl and is about to give birth to her first baby. Georgie has written a three-part blog series about shooting and her pregnancy.
''I'll begin with a little about myself, a little bit of background relevant to this article''
I’ll firstly say that I am by no accounts a professional writer or blogger, or even an amateur one -I would like to share some medical facts and studies,experiences of my own findings, as well as those of other women who have actually experienced shooting in pregnancy themselves, and as with most things pregnancy related, leave it to each individual mummy-to-be to decide for themselves what they feel comfortable with. There’s definitely no right or wrong!
Some may wonder why I'd even consider shooting while pregnant, and for me personally it comes from being quite sure of how I'd like to raise my son. I would much rather have a child playing outdoors in the mud, than indoors on a computer, and my baby's own history and background will hopefully be something that he carries forward in his life.
A little about me and my shooting background
I grew up in a beautiful part of London - Dulwich, well known for being probably the only truly bucolic part of London, and with family in rural West Sussex I have always had an immense respect for the countryside, a love of the outdoors, and for animals. I also believe I have always had a fairly profound understanding of how and why conservation is so important, as is ethical food sourcing.
Many years agoI was coerced into joining my good friend Alex for a shoot weekend - under the promise of lots of booze and partying more than anything else! I happily went along and loved every moment. Following that I received a few more invitations to “come along” – this was when women in the line were rare to unheard of. How times have changed in a few years!
I got myself down to West London Shooting School and had several lessons, as my dear friend Alex was very encouraging for me to “have a go”.. I wanted to at least have a clue with what I was doing skill-wise, and make sure I understood the importance of safety and etiquette. I also booked the Purdey Ladies course where I met around 30 other women who shoot..and then I was introduced to the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club. Given my experience so far in the field, I thought that 30 women was a tremendous number… little did I know that Victoria Knowles-Lacks had already amassed a following of thousands of members with the Bun Club, and I was now part of and had a huge network of women who shoot.
Fast forward to now – I would like to think I am an experienced clay and game shot, although I’ve always held the feeling that 1. Being safe is most important 2. Having fun is second! 3. Good manners and generally being good company go a very long way and 4. It doesn’t really matter how many you hit, as long as the first 3 are there!
At the time of writing part 1I am 7 months pregnant with my first baby. Unfortunately, the first trimester and beginning of the second were very touch and go for me, I was scared to even briskly walk to catch a bus let alone shoot, so I can only share my experiences from now onwards. I imagine early on in pregnancy there’s more to think about such as morning sickness, and the general first-trimester “fear”..again I think this comes back to whatever you feel comfortable with, definitely no right or wrong!
I am by no exaggeration the size of a small house in comparison to my usual frame, although luckily my balance and footing seems to be unaffected so far. My boobs are colossal, which lead me to have a re-shuffle of which gun I’llbe using for my one and only game day this season.
I popped down to the trusted West London Shooting School to have a practice run on some driven clays ahead of my first game day while pregnant – firstly my gun’s spring didn’t seem to be intact for the triggers (I have a double trigger, 80-year-old, 20 bore side by side) but luckily I had a friend with me who has an arsenal of shotguns at his disposal, who with the suggestion of my instructor, gave me the 12 that he was using to try..
Lesson one learned – make sure your guns still fits! The 12 fit me much better in the shoulder (and side boobs) and with shorter barrels than mine, it was much easier to stand gun down as you would in a line ready for the covey to come over. My belly completely altered the way I could manoeuvre a gun from my regular stance of the stock somewhere near my hip with the barrels pointing skyward, ready to be mounted when I see my bird. With the shorter 12 I can still easily stand safely and comfortably with my gun down waiting for the birds. With my own 20 with longer barrels, I was somewhat at an angle with my barrels not directly straight sky-pointing, although what I would think is still safe, I’d rather be 100% on things like that. So – make sure your gun still fits and have a practice first if possible!
Now it was time to pull the trigger… one of my main concerns about shooting while pregnant was that it would make the baby jump… This is my first baby, and I’ve been filled with joy every time I get a hard kick to the ribs – but, what if, these continue to progressively get harder and harder and my little man jumps when I pull the trigger…
Here’s where Victoria’s legion of well-experienced women were invaluable – they had actually done it before and could relay their owns experiences and thoughts – this is a rare subject that google/your midwife/even some of the best doctors and/or shots in the world would be stumped at.
I was very encouraged that my fears were not actually anything to worry about, and, as far as I can tell, baby slept throughout that lesson!
Secondly, I had a fear of damaging baby’s hearing. The research I did regarding the protective purpose of the amniotic fluid and sac left me feeling very assured, but at the same time, I knew the safety go-to’s if you don’t feel your baby move such a using a loud noise to make him move… But how loud is loud? My baby seemed to not notice at all each time I pulled the trigger..that in itself was a huge assurance about the hearing, I guess it’s not too loud. I have no concerns at all that I have or will have damaged his hearing. Again, it’s how you feel and what you’re comfortable with – I do strongly believe in maternal instinct for each individual being what’s “right” above anything else. If you’re not comfortable, don’t do it. If you feel ok with it, go for it! You just know whats right for you, as an individual, in pregnancy…
Here's a tremendous collation of medical research regarding hearing in the uterus (credit to Elizabeth Cook for pointing me in the direction of this article)
Here’s what some ladies have to say:
"I didn't shoot at all when I was pregnant as I was ill with H.G and then I felt my balance was off as then suffered with my ligaments softening (more common the more pregnancies you have)
I think as long as you feel you are physically up to it then there's no reason not to shoot, you have to trust your own judgment on what feel right for you" - Kate Latimer-Matthews, The Cotswolds
"Shooting when heavily pregnant makes it hard to swivel in the middle. It left me with a terrible habit of moving the gun with my arms not my whole body. It took me quite a while to break that habit" - Elizabeth Cook, Cambridgeshire
"I carried on shooting for as long as I felt comfortable. I did my research and never had any strong opinions about stopping or continuing to shoot while pregnant. That being said, at around 6 months I found baby was jumping about every time the gun went off and I found it too off-putting! So I chose not to carry on... I was still around shooting a lot though and hosted Bun Club days as well as beating on our local shoot. I walked 5 miles beating one day about two weeks before I gave birth, the old boys didn't know what to make of it!! So my advice would be play it by ear and do what feels right for you as an individual (and your little growing human too!) Don't put any expectations on yourself and enjoy it for as long as you can and feel comfortable!"- Hannah Burrdige, East Sussex
"I felt permanently hungover for the first few months, so not really in the mood. I did have a few clay sessions at West London, but only because I'd already paid for them! I was still around guns and shooting though: I covered the CPSA World English Sporting at EJ Churchill for work, did a few rifle shooting marketing events and was at the Game Fair for the duration. To be honest, I was flat out at work, exhausted with pregnancy, and running around like a headless chicken looking after my elder daughter, so didn't really have much time for shooting - I felt more like sleeping if I had a day off! I have several friends who carried on shooting while pregnant and enjoyed it, with no ill-effects to them or their babies" - Lucy King, Warwickshire
"I haven't shot a lot this pregnancy. I suppose I find when pregnant I'm generally a better clay shot. Apparently, the hormones can change your vision dominance. Also just enjoy and keep active, I was out helping out on the shoot at 39 weeks flapping my flag s a beater and picking up with my black lab!" - Caroline Cockshott, North Yorkshire
This is a small snippet of much more input I’ve been given by many more women – it’s all similar advice and experiences along the samelines as above, from everyone that contributed…''