MEL SYKES: RIDING SHOTGUN

Shooting sports were traditionally dominated by the male of the species. A bygone era, when a womans place was in the home, raising children and baking cakes.

Although times have changed and women are no longer chained to the kitchen sink, there still lurks a common misconception that shooting is a man’s sport.

We recently read with utter astonishment the thoughts of an opinionated old chap who labeled girls in the field ‘a pain in the arse’ suggesting that ladies be ‘put out of site’ – Taking objection to his point of view, we became determined to prove that ladies are more than capable of handling a shotgun and with that, the Femmes-Fatales idea was born.

In recent years, shooting has become more popular with the fairer sex. It’s no longer rare to see a lady at the shooting ground blasting clays. The emergence of ladies shooting clubs and an increase in shooting events aimed solely at women means more and more girls are arming themselves with a gun and heading to the range.

Doing great things for our sport, proving that shot guns aren’t just for tweed-clad country bumpkin types and keen to introduce more women to shooting, Melanie Sykes has taken to blasting clays like a duck to water. She has fast developed a deep passion for shooting that’s grown in to a fierce determination to become a clay shooting champion.
Popular with both men and women, Mels lovable character was first revealed in her ad campaign for Boddingtons beer, then followed a successful career in television spanning over two decades.

A recent, smoking hot photoshoot for Esquire magazine firmly established her as one of the UK’s sexiest females ever – and now she’s added another string to her bow – clay pigeon shooting, and the word on the shooting range is that she’s pretty handy with a shotgun.

Northern born and raised but now living in London, she’s a hard-working mother of two, a model for luxury lingerie brand Ultimo, a television presenter, a health and fitness enthusiast with her own nutrition range ‘Active Woman’, Patron of the International Pre-Autistic Network (IPAN) and has recently embarked up on a brand new career presenting the Moto GP, but before she headed off to Qatar for the Grand Prix, we caught up with her to find out how her shooting is coming along.

“My passion and the glint in my eyes when talking about shooting would get anyone to have a go!

How far has your shooting come since you began having regular coaching?

“I think my progress has been pretty quick and positive with shooting generally. I started with Sporting, then Down The Line and now Olympic Trap. I’ve been working on OT with Martin Barker and on a good day I’m shooting mid to high teen scores per round. It all started to fall in to place obviously when I got my Zoli, a perfect gunfit!”

What would you say to try to convince more women to take up the sport?

“I’m always banging on about shooting to whoever will listen, especially the girls. I am yet to meet anyone who hasn’t loved it after trying. My passion and the glint in my eyes when talking about shooting would get anyone to have a go!”

What’s the best bit of shooting advice you’ve ever been given?

“I’ve now got Danielle Adams, a Sports Psychologist onboard to help with my focus. Tons of advice and it’s all quite personal really, so I’m not telling you! (laughing) …but she is fantastic and her advice is being considered and practiced and not forgetting Martin Barker my trainer who just knows his stuff and knows when and how to execute it. He is a genius!”

How do you feel about being involved in such a male dominated sport?

“I have absolutely no feelings about shooting being a male dominated sport ‘cos let’s face it – aren’t they all? I just want to help and encourage women to have a go because at the very baseline it’s such fun!”

Has your fitness regime altered at all to benefit your shooting?

“I already train and am quite fit. The only changes I have made are what I do the day before shooting. So no boxing or hardcore leg work. Stiffness hinders movement when shooting. I had to learn that the hard way.”

You’ve just embarked on a new career presenting the Moto GP. How’s that going?

“Moto GP kicks off in Quatar next weekend and it’s a brilliant new opportunity for me. I cannot wait to get started. Now THAT’S a male dominated sport!”

We’d like to wish Mel the very best of luck with her new role with the Moto GP and of course, we’re looking forward to seeing her in action on the clays very soon!
Melanie trains regularly at Nuthampstead Shooting Ground in North-East Hertfordshire. The ground is one of many in the UK that offer instruction to complete novices, corporate days and private parties – so if you’ve never tried shooting before and would like to see what’s got Mel so excited, then give them a call on 01763 848172 to arrange a lesson!

I just want to help and encourage women to have a go because at baseline it’s such fun!