A few months back, Rebecca Etchen Peters headed to Brays Island in South Carolina for a sporting clays weekend with a group from Garden & Gun magazine. Not only was Etchen Peters the force behind the development of our original Sport Shop line, she’s also no rookie when it comes to the shooting sports, with four generations of champion shooters in her family lineage. But spending a weekend with just the ladies in a hospitable Southern setting provided a different experience in what is a very male-dominated pastime. The full story of the trip ran in Garden & Gun, but this is her personal report.
Words by Rebecca Etchen Peters, top image courtesy of Garden and Gun, Sophie Treppendahl; Other images courtesy of Rosemary Dinkins
I met Rebecca Darwin, the founder and CEO of Garden & Gun, years ago, before the magazine ever published its first issue. She had an idea for a magazine that was not like any typical magazine in the sporting industry. It would bridge all things Southern lifestyle: food, drink, dogs, field, music. Like it is with a lot of women in the male-dominated hunting industry, we kept in touch over the years, both of us with heads down in work and life. This past April, when I was invited by Rebecca and Garden & Gun to a ladies’ shooting event at Brays Island Plantation in South Carolina, I knew that I couldn’t miss it.
A group of around 20 ladies met on the beautiful grounds of Brays Island Plantation, outside Charleston, on a perfect Thursday morning. After breakfast and a safety orientation, we split into groups of four to head out into the sporting clays range. As expected, the course was beautiful, and we all had a lovely and safe time being outside in such a stunning place on a perfect day. The ladies were of all skill levels, and from all different walks of life and regions of the country. The day became all about cheering each other on, and bonding over our love for the sport.
Much like golf, each sporting clays course is different. There are similar targets and shots on all courses, but each course has its own landscape and backgrounds. There can even be large variations within the same course, as you move station to station. We had differing levels of ability, and some newer shooters in my squad, so we spent a lot of time also chatting. We talked about women’s specific product needs, and fit issues, and tricks for bettering your score. Since only one person shoots at a time on your squad, a lot of camaraderie is displayed. One of the newer shooters asked each of us, “What do you say to yourself to get ready before you call ‘pull’ when it is your turn to shoot?” My response was, of course, “Keep your head down, Rebecca”
“Keep your head down, Rebecca.” I have been hearing those words for many years…from my father, my grandfather, my brother, my mother, my husband, and most often, myself. Having spent a lot of time with shooters and hunters throughout my life and career, it is also a common answer when you just cannot understand why you are missing a clay target. It also has applied to anything that you set your eyes on, or your mind to, even off the range. Of course, it is the last thing I say to myself. And it is easy for shooters of all ages to understand because, like any sport, you need to keep your head down.
We had a lovely lunch and gathering afterward, and in true Garden & Gun fashion, the event was simply impeccable. All of the women were as lovely, warm, and hospitable as you could imagine. For a magazine that prides itself on Southern hospitality, charm, and all things welcoming, the crowd and venue could not have been more suitable.
As someone who has shot and hunted my entire life, I always love hanging out with old friends and meeting other women who enjoy the same activities. Events like this remind me that I have met most of my dearest friends through shooting or hunting. The women I continue to meet through shooting or hunting end up being friendships that last way longer than the day or weekend on which they began. And we often remind each other to keep our heads down.
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