Our World

In the Press: The world according to Charlotte Kerwood

‘Britain’s Charlotte Kerwood is aiming for glory at next year’s Olympics.  With three Commonwealth gold medals to her name, she approaches London 2012 as our main hope in the clay-target-shooting events.  Kerwood first picked up a gun at the age of 12, and it took her just three years to win her first gold, in the women’s double trap at Manchester in 2002.  Four years later in Melbourne she successfully defended her title and took gold in the pairs event for good measure.  Having returned home empty-handed from the Beijing Olympics, she’s now gearing up for next year’s Games.  Aged 24, she lives with her parents in Fletching, East Sussex.

There’s no feeling in the world like pulling a trigger.
Shooting is my addiction and seeing the clay smash into pieces is amazing.  Everyone should experience it at least once.  Every time I hit that target it’s as exciting as the first time.  When I aim that gun at the clay, nothing else exists in the world apart from my desire to see that target shattered.  I’m obsessed with my sport.  I even dream of standing on the podium after a win.

Never go shooting with a hangover.
It should go without saying that nobody should ever handle a gun after a few drinks.  The morning after isn’t that different.  In my younger days I tried shooting with a hangover and it was a disaster.  Never again.

Happiness is the right gun.
People always expect me to have a huge collection of guns, but I’ve only got the one.  If you find the perfect gun, you don’t need any others.  Mine is a custom-made 12-bore Perazzi shotgun worth £7,000.  Other than my car it’s the most expensive thing I own.  I went out to Italy to see it hand-made to my specifications.  It’s kept in the gun safe at my parents’ house, right next to my gold medals.  If there were ever a fire in my house, the gun would be the first thing I’d grab, closely followed by my make-up bag.

Money is a constant worry; my cartridges alone cost £5,400 a year.
Shooting isn’t an elitist sport and you don’t need to be rich to start – a morning of expert tuition will cost you less than a ticket to a Premier League football match and will probably be a lot more exciting.  It gets more expensive when you reach my level.  Going to the World Cup in Cairo cost me over £2,000 for five days.  My cartridges cost £270 per thousand and I get through 20,000 of them a year.  After Beijing, when  we returned home without any medals, the budget for the GB shooting team was cut by 80 per cent.  I lost every penny of my funding, which was a bit of a nightmare.  But it wasn’t going to stop me shooting.

It’s very healthy for children to shoot guns – it teaches respect, and we need that.
They should be encouraged to shoot from an early age.  I don’t really see that there are any dangers in that.  My dad taught me how to shoot at 12 and the safety aspects were drummed into me from the start.  If I hadn’t started at such a young age there’s no way I could have won gold at the Commonwealth Games at 15.  Shooting teaches children discipline and how to behave responsibly.

Don’t let anyone tell you that shooting guns is for men.
Shooting is one of those sports where women can compete on a level playing  field with the opposite sex.  We’re able to focus just as well.  Physically, there’s nothing to stop us shooting as well as men.  But the perception is that’s more of a man thing.  It’s a question of overcoming some of the old-fashioned attitudes that surround the sport.  People forget that women competed alongside men in the Olympics until 1992 and more than held their own.  When I was younger I did find myself being patronised by men, who would say things like, ‘Need any help holding that gun, love?’  My answer to that was to remain polite, then go on to beat them hands down.  I prefer to let my shooting do the talking.  If I win gold in 2012, hopefully it’ll inspire more women to take up shooting.

There are times when I feel I could close my eyes and still hit the target.
To succeed, you need to be in the zone.  That applies to shooting as much as anything else – maybe more so.  Total concentration is needed.  It means I need to be completely relaxed before I pick up that gun.  What usually works for me is to sing along to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back – it’s so ridiculous that it always makes me laugh and settles any nerves I might have.  Once I’m completely calm I go with that flow.

Keep pole dancing out of the Olympics.
Recently there’s been a campaign to get pole dancing officially recognised as a sport so it can be included in the Games.  I’ve nothing against it – I’m sure it’s a great way to keep fit – but nothing will convince me that it should qualify as a sport, let alone an Olympic sport.  If cricket and golf don’t get in, I can’t see why pole dancing should.  We’ve got all the sports we need in the Olympics.  It’s an amazing global event and doesn’t need spicing up.

I loved being sandwiched between Katie Price and Zara Phillips.
As a shooter I’m never going to win a BBC Sports Personality of the Year award – I love being the face of my sport, but it’s not as big as football or rugby.  Saying that, I was voted one of the 100 most powerful people in the countryside.  I was nestled between Katie Price and Zara Phillips.  That’s enough for me.

I draw the line at shooting lions and tigers.
I believe in eating what I shoot rather than shooting for fun, so I stick to pheasants, partridges, ducks and pigeons.  I would never cut them up myself, though.  I shoot ‘em and my boyfriend cooks ‘em.  But I prefer the competitiveness involved in shooting clays.

Charlotte Kerwood is a shooting ambassador for MUSTO performance clothing; musto.com

(Featured in Live magazine)

Charlotte is wearing the Ladies Luxury Tweed Field Coat, £350

This elegantly styled 3/4 length Field Coat is made in a beautiful Scottish herringbone tweed comprising 88% lambswool 12% Angora – A feeling of luxury, highly desirable and available in three weaves.

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