Intended Publication: Somerset Life. Abbey Burton: mounting the gun Lauren Childs talks to the Commonwealth silver medal shooting star whose Wellington home is not only a haven for business, but for pleasure too. Abbey Burton is well known on the shooting circuit as at the age of 17 she became the youngest ever female to win the British Grand Prix, a competition which is said to set the standards for Olympic hopefuls. She went on to win it a further three times in the following years, becoming the only lady to win it four times, and in succession. She also has a bulging cupboard of medals, including many from the World and European championships. It is no wonder I was anxious when I first met her at a fitness hall, as she has achieved so much, and she only 24. I need not have been though as she is very welcoming. Sports men and women who excel can seem very serious, but Abbey quite clearly has a love of the sport which is radiant and warm. When I ask how she learnt of her talent she says, “My Grandfather was a game keeper and he got me into the sport as it is very countryside orientated. I went for lessons at a shooting range and got asked to shoot for the county and met new people, like coaches, and it went from there really.” Originally from Buckinghamshire, Abbey‟s Somerset life began six years ago when she moved to Wellington to live with partner Edward Ling, 28, who is a farm worker and fellow Great Britain shooter who competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She says the benefits that she gets from living in the county are: “Countryside locations, top shooting grounds and coaches located in the area.” Shooting is synonymous with the rural life, however there is somewhat a lack of female representation in the sport, so Abbey is very much in a „man‟s world‟. This does not deter her however, as she comments, “I am very passionate about passing on my knowledge, improving people‟s skills and giving them happiness, satisfaction and enjoyment, this is always my main aim when getting a client, setting personal goals and aiming for results to improve their level within the sport. I am helping people to do that.” Abbey became a qualified instructor in 2007, but decided to go self-employed and open up her own shooting school two years later as it was more flexible for her training and meant she could work from home on the family farm in Wellington. When I ask Abbey how important it is to have the right setting around you to be successful and happy she replies: “Very important, you have enough hurdles to get over dealing with the 1|Page
Intended Publication: Somerset Life. pressure of competitions and training for them, you do not want your mind to be on family or job issues. You want to concentrate solely on your goals and striving to achieve them, creating a positive environment. I am being supported financially alright, and I have good relationships with those around me.” With running her shooting school, having a car and family home to look after and the pressures of funding most of her own competitions and ammunition, Abbey has very little to time to relax, something which we can all relate to I am sure, so when she does have the time she is certain to make the most of it. “Generally I have a good balance of life, this is a big thing for me.” Abbey‟s balance of life comes from taking advantage of the picturesque walkways with her Springer Spaniel called Pippa, and the escapism that comes with living in a quiet setting with her boyfriend Edward, whom she has set up home with. She most enjoys the quaint local shops in the town centre and the vast open fields that are close to her home. “My perfect way to unwind is to go out for a run and come in and have a hot bath with candles and relaxing music.” In terms of business Abbey moved to Wellington to be nearer her Italian coach Claudio, “I work with him because I believe and trust that what he says is going to help me improve, we have a personal bond. He has a great deal of experience and a deep knowledge of the sport.” She also says that her local area boasts one of the best Olympic training facilities for the sport. It has not always been success after success for Abbey and she is very candid in admitting that the she does let the stresses and strains get to her, “I have had so many highs and lows: financially, bad results at competitions, family and job issues, and relationship stresses because of this.” In fact the year after she moved to Somerset was a disaster as she did not win any medals or junior finals and missed out on Commonwealth qualification. “After this I went in to a world class programme development squad where we had to train in Italy once every two months, sometimes more. Being away from my partner and quitting the family farm made this very stressful,” she says. However it paid dividends as the following years welcomed a shower of medals including silver at both the European and World championships and silver at the last Commonwealth games in Dehli in the trap pairs event with Anita North. They came second to Australian pair 2|Page
Intended Publication: Somerset Life. Laetisha Scanlan and Stacy Roiall, by just two points. In 2008 Abbey also set the UK record at the British Grand Prix adding to the Ladies record that she already has. Although 2011 was not a good year for Abbey in competitions she found sponsors to fund her World Cup competitions and runs her shooting school on a more freelance basis around Somerset as well as teaching at a local gym three times a week for a more regular income, helping with peace of mind financially. Whether it be waiting for the next clay to launch or tutoring a keen amateur, Abbey is always perfectly poised and ready to take on any challenge, the next of which happens to be on the biggest stage of all, the London 2012 Olympics, “I hope to be a candidate to be in the final and go on and win a medal,” she says. Let‟s hope it is gold this time! When I ask for any general words of encouragement, she replies: “Keep pursuing your dreams, nothing comes easy, everyone has to work hard. It is all about achieving that fine balance in life. Do not let the end goal get overshadowed because you will meet people along your journey that will not agree with you. Make sure when you are making decisions that you look at every possible angle. Where there is a will there is a way!” Wise words from one so young, yet Abbey also faces the realities of life. “I expect to continue my shooting career into my late 40s and 50s, but who knows what the future will hold as I want marriage, children and to manage and expand my own business.” Perhaps she will teach her family how to shoot in the Somerset countryside, just like how her Grandfather taught her. For more details about Abbey’s shooting school email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or for more information about the sport of shooting, Abbey recommends you visit: CPSA.co.uk Abbey Master Class: How to Mount the Gun. Abbey runs shooting lessons and also has videos online to encourage people to take up the sport. Lessons can be costly, however Abbey tells me, “I have „have a go‟ sessions that I run as an instructor, so it is cheap enough for those who have not done the sport before to have a try to see if they like it. Normally someone knows whether or not they like it from their first go. The need to know details about shooting is: safety, having lessons, joining clubs and having insurance”
Intended Publication: Somerset Life. As a taster here is a step-by-step guide to Abbeyâ€&#x;s master class: how to mount the gun, available online. Remember! Safety is paramount, DO NOT attempt this unless you are qualified or with someone that is. 1. Firstly put your glasses and head protection on and collect your unloaded gun. 2. Next get into the correct stance: side on, feet hip distance apart and comfortable. 3. Close the gun and point it down range. 4. Now rest the gun against your waist and point it upwards. 5. As the clay appears, have the bead in the correct position so that you can see it coming (make sure the barrel of the gun is not obstructing your view) and push the gun towards it so you can follow the movement. 6. Whilst following the movement of the target, move the gun up into your shoulder. 7. The cue to pull the trigger is when the target is as its peak. 8. Once you have pulled the trigger point the gun downwards again, pull the lever across and unload.