Rising Star: Steph Meachen
Stephanie Meachen is one to watch. She's a young lady making a big impact in the shooting world. At just 15 years old, she already has a number of wins under her belt. Her steely grit and determination is incredible and she's got a huge future ahead of her. Victoria caught up with Steph to find out more about this rising star.
How long have you been shooting for? We have seen you at a few S&CBC events when you were younger, how old were you when you started?
- Since around the age of 5, I have been going shooting with my father. When I was little, I went beating at my dad’s game shoot, which he ran for many years. However at the age of 7 I got my first .410 and I was out shooting game whenever I got the chance. I have always loved being outdoors and learning how the countryside works. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I tried clay pigeon shooting. It used to be a treat to go clay shooting as generally my dad and I were out shooting pheasants and pigeons. I guess I really began shooting clays when I attended my first Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club event. I didn’t start clay shooting frequently or competing in any competitions until September 2016 and I have come such a long way in a short space of time. In the years before this we purely shot for fun.
It must be pretty tough to fit in school and all your practice – how do you do it? How much do you get out and practice too?
- With me approaching my GCSE’s I am trying to balance my school work with my shooting. I find that the best way to do this is knuckle down during the week and do all my homework and assignments on the night I get them in order to stop any work piling up for the weekend. However sometimes school does have to come first and there are the occasional days where reluctantly I have to leave the gun in the cabinet and get on with some revision ready for my exams in May. Generally though I tend to manage my time wisely which leaves me lots of free time at the weekend to go out and shoot. Fortunately my school are very supportive with my shooting and allow me to leave on Thursday afternoons to go and practice with my coach. Typically I will practice on Thursdays and most Saturdays (when it’s not the game season) and attended a registered event every Sunday, so I do get lots of shooting into the week.
What I’ve won:
- High gun at the Yorkshire Schools challenge 2016
- Yorkshire colt FITASC champion
- Yorkshire colt sport trap champion
- North of England colt FITASC champion
- North of England colt all round champion
- North of England colt sport trap champion
- Not to mention multiple class wins
Your success has been phenomenal so far, what do you think this is down to?
- There are many different factors which have led to my success so far in the clay shooting world. Firstly I have two amazing coaches, Linda and David Grayson. Linda won CPSA coach of the year this year and they have recently started their own coaching business (graysonshooting.co.uk) . They have transformed me from a novice shot to an experienced shooter in the space of 6 months. Without them sticking with me every weekend and teaching me different methods in which I can shoot with I don’t think I would be as talented as I am today. They deserve all the credit they can get because they are truly fantastic coaches who spend time looking at my shooting and making small changes which makes all the difference to my scores. Not only that, but my passion for the sport has driven me further. The fact that I love doing what I am doing and get so much enjoyment out of winning makes me even more focused on getting better and better. You have to have the willingness to improve and stick to it for you to see the amazing results that you get from all your hard work.
What would you say to other girls who are thinking about trying shooting competitions?
- I would say go for it! Unless you have tried it, you won’t understand how addictive it is. Seeing the clay break when you pull the trigger gives you a feeling that you can’t explain. I feel as if clay pigeon shooting is a male dominated sport and I would love to see more young girls my age involved with it. I only know of a few lady colts and juniors who actually compete in any competitions. Don’t feel as if you can’t get involved because it’s not a ‘girls sport’ because I can assure you that is not the case. I would recommend attending S&CBC events if you are just starting out. The ladies are so lovely and absolutely no experience is needed. It boosts your confidence massively when you see other ladies socialising and enjoying the sport you as much as you. Some of the top shots in the country are women, take Cheryl Hall for example. This just proves that anything is possible. The sky is the limit.
You’ve clearly got the mindset of an absolute champion – how do you keep your cool in competitions? So many of us would just panic!
- Firstly it helps that I have Linda and Dave as well as my Dad with me. They fill me with so much confidence as they are always smiling when I turn around and look at them from the cage. This level of support is crucial when shooting in big competitions. Also I have a pre shot routine which calms me down before I shoot. I make sure I align my cartridges up so the writing on them is the right way up before I close the gun. This also helps with focus as it slows my shooting down and gets me ‘in the zone’. Then before I shout “pull” I take a big breath in and out. But the key is don’t get too tense, just relax and when you start hitting the clays your nerves will soon calm. I still get nervous when shooting in competitions and it is inevitable but after a while you learn how to control them effectively. It all comes with experience and the more you shoot the easier it becomes.
What’s the best piece of shooting advice you’ve ever been given?
- It may sound silly but the best piece of advice I have ever been given is ‘enjoy yourself’. The reality is that shooting is only a game and at the end of the day if you aren’t enjoying yourself then why are you doing it? Some days I will shoot badly, which everybody does. However if I beat myself up about it and get myself down it’s a waste of time. You take those days and use them to your advantage then come back even stronger. Shooting should be a time to socialise and make memories which you will treasure for your whole life but without enjoyment those memories are worthless. If you apply this to every shoot you attend you will never have a dull day. It’s not all about winning.
I know your Dad is mega supportive of your shooting and he’s really proud of you. What’s he done to encourage you and do you have a little message for him?
- My Dad is great and I’m so grateful that he got me involved in shooting. Without his support I couldn’t do what I’m doing now. I’m not going to lie, shooting in not a cheap sport so the amount of money he invests on me is quite large. Words will never describe how thankful I am. He’s even put some of his shooting on the side to make way for me to make my mark in clay shooting. He really does believe in me and I’m going to try my absolute hardest in the upcoming years to show him that the time and effort he puts in getting me to clay grounds all over the country was worth it. Currently he’s been promoted to bag caddy but I’m sure he secretly enjoys it. It makes me happy when I see the smile on his face when I’m shooting well. More importantly though, the bond that we have as father and daughter gets closer and closer through us sharing a passion for shooting. I just want to say a massive thank you to him for everything he does for me.
You’ve got such a massive future ahead of you, what’s your ultimate goal to win?
- There are so many things that I want to achieve in my shooting. To begin with I would love to get in the England sporting team to shoot with some of the best shots in the country. But also this year I have booked into the English open sporting, British open sporting and also the ICTSF World Sporting championship at Kelmarsh. This is the first year that I have entered the big championships as I only started competing in September 2016. It would be fantastic if I could get into the medal positions in one of these competitions however there will be some tough opponents.
If people want to keep up to date with what you’re up to, how do they get in touch with you?
- I've just set up a Facebook page where you can keep up to date with what I'm up to. I'd love it if you could give it a 'like'. My Facebook page is Steph Meachen - Clay Shooting
Victoria says: '' I'd like to thanks Steph for taking the time to do this. What a phenomenal young lady that we can all learn so much from. Her attitude is just unfaltering and the fact she's gone out and got amazing coaches, is managing her GCSE's and is just cracking on is so admirable. What she has achieved in the past 6 months is just amazing. Long may it continue!''