Victoria Knowles-Lacks has a vision – she wants to empower women, by bringing ladies of all ages, shapes, backgrounds and abilities together. She has worked hard on creating the largest, all girl shooting community.
What is the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club?
The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club is the UK’s largest ladies shooting club. I am big into shooting, I shoot game and clays. I love the whole huntress thing – shooting the pheasants, preparing them and eating them and that kind of thing. Shooting had interested me for some time but none of my girl friends were into it so I took four girlfriends clay shooting in September 2011 and they loved it. From there it turned into the huge social and networking club around the country.
How did it go from your four girlfriends to what it is today?
It just kinda happened! I put on three or four events and just threw everything at it that I could. I have no background in business at all. I emailed local women in the area like business clubs, the WI, pony clubs and other groups of women then offered them a discount just to try get them along. Then it just grew and grew. I do a lot of social media, run competitions and promotions. I would team up with local farmers, clubs and various people by sending them a really nice email asking if they would put our events up on their website and in return I would offer them a discount. I didn’t make any profit out of it, it was more about building a presence. I am really lucky to have received a lot of support from shooting organisations and people who just believe in me and are just getting behind me.
What did you do before the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club?
I studied fashion at university in London. I left London and then went to Australia for two years, rode horses as a jillaroo chasing cattle. I moved back to Worcestershire and worked for Knight Frank but got made redundant. Then I moved onto working for a housing association but just hated that. I always felt quite entrepreneurial but never quite knew what to do. The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club was just a hobby that grew into what it is today. We have already brought 8,000 women into clay shooting. We have got our own tweed line.
How does the club work?
Someone called us the WI with guns. We have all ages, from nine years old to late seventies and over attending our seventy plus events across the country. Shooting experience isn’t necessary, you can just turn up and we will provide you with a gun and a coach. Most of the women bring a cake along for us to enjoy together when the shooting is over. I have a lovely collection of tea cups and tea pots and we have a proper tea part.
How did you come up with the name?
At first I was going to call it the Game Bird Shooting Club but thought it was a bit cliché and I didn’t want everyone to think that we were ‘game’ – you know, easy women! I also didn’t want to put vegetarians off. I knew it needed a punchy name and punchy logo, so wrote this really, really long list and eventually settled on the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club. I thought Chelsea was genius as it’s quite aspirational and now everyone calls us the Chelsea Gun Club which is fine by me.
How did the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club go from a hobby to a business?
I started with a blog called Lady Shooting where I would write about all the big estates I had been too or the lovely new jacket I got and so would review stuff. Then I had this Twitter account, @LadiesShooting, which is still going and has nearly 7,000 followers but I never do anything with it which is a shame really. It was this Twitter account that really helped me get going. After the first event in September 2011 I used this Twitter account to see who else was interested and where they were based. So would ask for example, who is in Derbyshire that might like to join us for a shoot. I have been quite relentless, I work about 100 hours a week. Social media for me is the key. While I was still working fulltime I used to get up at 4am every morning to stay on top of things. I quit my day job in June 2012.“The idea was to create a club that I would feel comfortable going to so we are a really fun club where everyone is welcome.” Tweet This!
How did your tweed line come about?
I did a collaboration with a tweed clothing company where I did a bit of consulting for them in social media by sharing what had worked for me. Everything just snowballed from there and since I studied fashion and spend most of time in tweed it made sense.
What does it cost to get involved with the Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club?
Membership is £70 each year which gives you £10 off every shoot of £49.50. You also get access to our secret Facebook group and to the Chelsea Bun Club Sisterhood which is a mentoring scheme where we partner women new to shooting with more experienced women. They also get a badge and a discount book. 27th June last year I thought we should try a national shooting day and we had over a thousand ladies booked in! Aside from our usual events we do training days too, novice pheasant days and socials.
How do you manage all these events and ladies?
I do half of the events and then I have some trusted ladies that do the others for me around the country. I am really lucky to be surrounded by such lovely, kind, helpful women.
Describe a typical Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club member.
It’s really varied. For instance we have a really solid community of slightly older women with children, many of whom are farmers. We also have many younger ladies and then around London we have many city girls. The idea was to create a club that I would feel comfortable going to so we are a really fun club where everyone is welcome.
Do you have any failures that you have learned from?
Yes, plenty! I think getting a bit too big for my boots too early on was a bit of a failure. I got far too ambitious too early on without being fully prepared and didn’t think things through. I was just thinking that the going was good so I would easily be able to maintain that level of success. It was actually really good for me to go through that because now I am a lot more organised. I have a strategy now and am not just winging it anymore.
The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club
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