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ProStaff Emma gives us an insight being a woman that hunts…

“You shoot?!” can sometimes be the surprised response I get when people ask me what my plans are for the weekend.

“You own guns?!” usually follows, while they try to hide their shocked expression.

“But… you’re a woman!” There it is, my favourite line…

Growing up in the South Wales valleys and running my own hairdressing business means that my love for shooting does come as a shock to some people I meet.
I suppose it is an unusual combination really, hairdresser and hunter.

For a long time it was something I didn’t really feel I could talk about at work, I was never too sure how different people would react to my weekend tales and revelations.
It’s a little different compared to the usual hairdresser chit-chat about holidays to Benidorm and the latest episode of X-Factor.
I’ve had my fair share of awkward conversations and criticism for what I do. Not just because I shoot and stalk, mainly because I’m a woman. What makes me or any other woman hunter any different to a male hunter? I’ve never understood that.
My job sometimes gives people an automatic assumption of me as a person too.
The stereotype of a hairdresser that some people imagine i should be. There is far more to me than my job title implies. My job does not define me as a person.
I’ve grown to like shattering the stereotype that sometimes follows me around.

Why can’t I be a hairdresser with guns?…

I’m sure we’ve all found at some point shooting can be a very grey area for discussion. In my experience some people want to ask questions, they’re intrigued; they want to try to understand it. They may even decide after some knowledgeable answers, that their preconceived ideas about the shooting world were rather unfounded. It always makes me smile when I can help someone to see the good points about what we do. However small or basic this nugget of knowledge may be, I always feel happy that another tiny piece of positivity towards shooting has filtered into the atmosphere somewhere, with the hope that it will grow as time goes on.

Others of course are completely against shooting. They will never try to comprehend why we do, what we do, nothing you say will change their mind and arguing the point gets you nowhere fast.
I’m all for a well educated, factual discussion on shooting. Without discussions and debates like this how will we ever educate and dispel common misconceptions about shooting. That said, one thing I have learned is that arguing with biased, uncompromising people rarely results in anything positive. Sometimes the best answer is no answer at all.

My love of shooting came to me through my Dad. I always loved being outdoors with him as a child, whether it was with a shotgun, walking in the countryside or just being around our working Springer Spaniels. I was never destined for princess greatness as a child, I was usually to be found hanging out of a tree, probably covered in mud – things haven’t changed too much!

My first shooting memory goes back to being around seven years old, sat in a pigeon hide with my dad, both wearing our matching camouflage outfits, with the Springers retrieving. I loved it!

Over twenty years on and nothing has changed, I stalk and shoot with my Dad most weekends. I have a lot to thank him for, especially his vast knowledge on shooting.

It’s a well-known fact that the UK shooting scene has been extremely male dominated for quite some time. The hours of fun I’ve had over the years searching shops, game fairs and the Internet for ladies shooting and stalking clothing… I still have nightmares about the time when one particular shooting shop tried to convince me to buy a “children’s novelty camouflage onesie” to wear stalking. I still have no words. I can just imagine them trying to do that to a male stalker…

It can sometimes be difficult gaining acceptance and approval as a female stalker. To be taken seriously as someone who has a genuine passion for shooting and conservation, who is involved for the right reasons and wants to encourage other women to embrace it too. It can be intimidating in a world with so many respected professionals and being vastly outnumbered by men.
Much to my delight, statistics show that in recent years, the number of women becoming involved in shooting has increased dramatically. Clay shooting, driven game, even stalking – to name just a few examples. The number of ladies clay shooting clubs has increased, who doesn’t know the famous Femme fatales?! Ladies only game shooting days, even the amount of ladies applying for firearms permits has risen considerably. All positive signs the wheels of change are turning.

In my quest for a more adult sized camouflage stalking onesie, I happened to stumble upon a group of women that would turn out to be some of the most inspirational women I have been lucky enough to meet.
‘Prois Hunting & Field Apparel’ – a women’s only shooting and hunting clothing company based over in America.
Not only do they make second to none, technically brilliant, award winning hunting clothing – they are a sisterhood of like minded women hunters, a force to be reckoned with and have developed an unbreakable support network for fellow women hunters across the world.
They aren’t just a clothing company that makes amazing, cutting edge kit. They are women that want to see other women succeed and excel in the hunting & shooting field.

“It’s not a competition ladies, if we don’t have each other’s backs, who will?”

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 19.08.41That has to be my favourite thing about Prois. A supportive network of likeminded women who love to encourage and help each other. There’s something really special about being a part of that.
They consist of an array of career choices, personal circumstances, personalities and life choices. On paper, these ladies probably wouldn’t have come together in day to day life, but the one thing that has brought them together… their love of hunting. Relationships and strong bonds have been made. It doesn’t matter how different you may be to the next woman, when you put your real tree on you’re all in it for the same reason and you have each other’s backs.

Just over a year ago I was very lucky to be taken on board as the first official UK Pro-staff and representative for Prois. I feel incredibly proud to be a part of the Prois family.
When I asked Kirstie Pike, CEO of Prois, what she set out to achieve with Prois, she summed it up perfectly –
“Prois values… First and foremost it is a matter of providing an environment of support and fun for women. We work hard to bring like-minded women together to uplift each other, to provide advice and to provide a sense of camaraderie. Keeping a sisterhood of women who share the same passion is so beneficial! We do not support or tolerate women who compete with other women and degrade other women. Support is key! This Golden Rule really applies in all that we do.
With all of that, we really enjoy being the cutting edge for women’s hunting and shooting gear and are very proud of the achievements that we have made as a team so far with Prois. We love the support we receive and we are so thankful for all of the ladies that support us!”

Already being part of a network like this has given me extra confidence to stand up and be proud of what I do as a hunter, and allied to my role as Best Deer Call ProStaff, I feel I still have a lot to learn but being part of a network like this has made me stronger and more confident as a woman in the shooting and hunting world. I look forward to every new experience I have to come in the future. As time goes on I hope we can continue to develop more groups to provide support and encouragement for women in shooting and hunting in the UK. I believe the Prois values and goals are the perfect framework for what us ladies should aspire towards in supporting one another, being inspirational women to encourage the next generation.
When women support each other, amazing things can happen.