How I started shooting
Even from a young age I was around the shooting scene as my grandfather is a very active member of the game shooting community, he would take me along with my dad to do the local farmers’ beats. That’s the first time I remember being around guns. I would help in the bushes and then help gather the birds from the day. Sometime later my dad took a trip up to our local gun club to purchase a new gun so tagged along. I spoke to an instructor and booked onto a novice day at the club and learned the basics of gun safety and how to hit a couple of clays. From that day I was hooked on sporting and I enjoyed evenings after school going for a shoot and the weekends being spent competing within the clubs school challenge, during this time I got introduced to Anita North and we started to talk about Olympic Trap shooting and how that differed from the normal sporting targets. I went for a taster lesson with her at Nuthampstead shooting ground and was hooked on the discipline immediately. However, not long before a lesson, I had booked with her things took a turn for the worse.

My tumour and recovery

Just at the age of 12 in 2018 after consulting my GP about my symptoms of a constant headache that wouldn’t leave and not keeping foods and liquids down I was recommended an eye check to assess if I needed glasses again and this was the cause of the headaches. After the appointment, the optician took me for pictures of the back of my eyes to take pictures of my optic nerve and saw substantial swelling and informed me and my parents that I needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible. After arriving and many checks and hours later we were told I had a life-threatening brain tumour. After 19 hours of surgery over two days, the tumour was removed however I was left with one lasting side effect.

Recovery and getting back to shooting 

When I woke up I discovered I had been left with double vision, this has been affecting me still 4 years later and soon should be corrected with surgery. This affected shooting drastically as once I returned to the sport I was shocked to be back to what I love but also with newly added challenges that no one around me could relate to or understand. I started off shooting with one eye closed and this is how I started to get around the transition back however I knew this wouldn’t be sustainable. So after a while, I started to shoot with both eyes open again as I grew more and more confident with my abilities.

Moving forward
Now that I’m 4 years on from the tumour I’ve continued to shoot Olympic trap as my discipline of choice and work towards growing my skill and continuing to progress. I love the fun and exciting challenges that come with trap shooting. My plans for the future are to start representing team GB for as many events as I possibly can. I’ve recently spoken to the hospital eye team and have an appointment with a consultant very soon as I look forward to a very close squint eye surgery to hopefully correct my double vision and both enrich day-to-day life for me but also make it more comfortable to shoot, although the surgery will leave me out of the sport for a while I plan to jump straight back in and continue my coaching and competing as soon as I possibly can!!

Written by Philippa Stroud