Shona Marshall is the current Silver Medal holder in the Women’s Trap at the Commonwealth Games, scoring a 91 ex 100 in Delhi in 2010.  Shona is also the top ranked GB Trap Shooter – currently sitting at 30 in the ISSF World Rankings.  We were lucky to secure some time with Shona to find out a little bit more about her and her shooting.

ShootClay : Firstly – thanks Shona for taking some time with ShootClay – I know that you have a busy schedule. To start with, let’s go back to the beginning. How did you start shooting, and how old were you when you first broke a clay? Did you immediately get hooked?

Shona Marshall : My first introduction to shooting came in 1982 when I was 18 through my then husband-to-be. We were out ferreting and I had an old side-by-side with a fairly light trigger. I was told not to play with the safety catch…so what did I do? Flicked it on and off and nearly blew my foot off!!! A very important early lesson in gun safety!

Clay-wise, I shot sporting targets at Welbury Grange Gun Club and took part in the North Yorkshire Sporting League using a Remington 1100 semi-automatic. My competitive instincts made me want to improve and I had some successes.

SC : How were you drawn to Trap shooting specifically? Do you still shoot other disciplines?

SM : I tried out DTL (Down the Line) at a small shoot in the Yorkshire Dales and despite shooting most of them I was not overly enthusiastic. However a trip to East Yorkshire Gun Club and a go at Olympic Trap changed my mind! I got an old Miroku 800 and I did a couple of the GB selection shoots in 1984. However because I was expecting my first child and 1985 saw a Scottish ladies team entered at the DTL Home International for the first time I concentrated on that discipline instead.

We moved back from Yorkshire to my home town of Aberdeen in 1986 and I shot DTL and a little ABT (Automatic Ball Trap) until 1990 when I retired! It was not until I saw the publicity surrounding Charlotte Kerwood’s win at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 that I thought about taking up shooting again, but this time to shoot OT. My two children were now teenagers and I felt that I could have a chance at qualifying for the Melbourne Games. I contacted the late Roger Peace to find out about the GB selection procedure and the rest is history! I still shoot a few 50-bird DTL shoots over the winter and a little ABT, but that’s just for fun!

Some very cold looking traps

Some very cold looking traps

SC : Where do you currently train? Who is your coach? Are they pushing you hard for the London games?

SM : Living in the North-East of Scotland is just about the furthest place from OT ranges that you can get. My ‘local’, Loch Ness Gun Club is two and a half hours away! I am very fortunate in that I have three Laporte traps on the farm at home so I can train here. As you can see from the photo, training in the winter can be challenging but digging out the traps is a great warm-up! I do not have a personal coach although I can always ask the advice of Peter Croft and Martin Barker if I feel I have an issue that needs sorting out. I am also fortunate that Iain MacGregor, Scotland Team Clay Manager is able to attend the GB selection shoots where he can do all the information gathering for me so that all I have to concern myself is with my shooting.It is very exciting to be in the running for the London Olympics but there is plenty of work to be done before the team selection is finalised. I am extremely self-motivated so no-one can push me harder than I push myself.

SC : Looking back at your Commonwealth Games record – the Women’s Trap final was close run affair. (Shona was in a shoot off to reach the final and a few shots behind Anita North, but managed a 23 in the final to secure silver). What do you remember about the final?

SM : After a disappointing second round of 21 when I thought I’d blown any chance of making the final I knuckled down and shot a 24 to finish on 68. Five of us had to shoot off for the last 3 places in the final. I just knew that there was no way I was not going to be in that final and it only took 2 shots for me to qualify. What a weight off my shoulders! I was able to relax and enjoy the final. I knew that I was shooting well and I was delighted to put in a great performance and win the silver medal. I shot a personal best score in the final and I was not disappointed to have finished second.

SC : What preparations are you making for London 2012 now? How has your run-up been so far?  When will you know if you have confirmed a place in the team?

SM : I am currently having a few weeks break from shooting and am actually having a wee holiday at the end of the month visiting my daughter in Hong Kong. I am still working hard in the gym though and getting my fitness levels back up after having been diagnosed earlier in the year with an overactive thyroid. As soon as I return from HK I’ll be back training hard both at home and at some overseas training camps. I have to prepare for the World Cups in the early part of next year, which will be critical in determining selection for the Games. According to British Shooting the team places will be confirmed in May.

SC : How do you feel the Shooting sports are being represented at London 2012? Have you seen anything of the venue being built at Woolwich?

SM : I think it is disappointing that a permanent shooting venue could have been built. However I am sure that the historical site of the Woolwich Barracks will attract the non-shooting public and, who knows, some spectators might be inspired to take up the sport?

SC : What preparations do you typically have for a big competition? Do you have a tough training regime away from shooting?

SM : I attend two supervised strength and conditioning sessions at the gym per week and run twice a week. Some might say that is tough but I enjoy pushing my body and feeling fit. I think it helps me cope with travelling and because I’m fitter I can train longer. I shoot as many targets as I can over the winter, weather permitting, and then lower the intensity as a competition approaches. In the UK it is challenging preparing properly for major competitions because there are the GB selection shoots to compete in too.

SC : Do you have a pre-shot routine? How do you stay focused for a full round of Trap? Do you have any superstitions?

SM : Yes I have a pre-shot routine and I focus on that when I’m shooting. That of course is easier some days than others! I am not superstitious but I am a creature of habit and there are things I do when I’m away to make me feel more at home: I always travel with a kettle, tea bags, tea pot and mug.

SC : A lot of ShootClay readers are interested in the kit you use – can you tell us about your set-up, and which sponsors look after you?SM : I use a Perazzi MX8 trap gun which has a customised stock, 29½” barrels with a weight of 1540g. I am very grateful for the support that RC Cartridges have shown me over the last few years and I currently use RC2’s for training and RC4 Red Shot Supernik for competitions. I receive much appreciated lottery funding through sportScotland which covers a substantial part of my shooting costs, the rest is self-funded. sportScotland also provide any physio that I need, sport psychology support and supervised training in the gym.

Shona in action…

As far as I am concerned, the moral support I receive from friends and family is equally as important as the financial support I receive. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my children Kate and David and my partner Graham for their unwavering belief and support in my quest for shooting success.

SC : What advice would you give for anyone wanting to take up shooting?

SM : I would advise anyone to get some lessons from a good coach to start you off on the right footing. Once you find a gun that works for you, stick with it and resist the temptation to buy something expensive just because it suits someone else! I would also like to encourage more people that shoot the domestic disciplines to get out of their comfort zones and try the Olympic disciplines. They are a real challenge and very satisfying when you can hit a few.

SC : And finally – one last question – if you could choose your ideal shooting squad (dead or alive), who would you choose to compete against and with?

SM : One of the great things about OT is that our squads are drawn at random so it is great for meeting different people so I do not have any particular preference for a squad. However it is always a pleasure to be drawn on a squad with the top ranked shooters.

Shona – once again, thanks for talking to ShootClay, we are right behind all of the British Shooting team and we’ll be watching your performances closely. I hope we’ll be able to speak again soon.

SM : Thank you for your interest and support. I hope that London 2012 will see many shooting medals being awarded to Team GB members.