Tired of channel surfing, SUE SMITH heads off in search of adventure and find an explosive new hobby she rather enjoys

“I NEED a hobby”, I said, out loud to no one in particular, while lobbing peanuts into my mouth and waiting for the next box set to load on TV.

The cat rolled her eyes. ‘Not that old chestnut,’ she thought, as she snuggled down for episode one, series six of something or other.

“I need a hobby,” I said to my friend when she rang later.

“Shooting,” she said without drawing breath. “Try shooting — it’s outdoors, plenty of fresh air, good company and challenging. You can’t beat it.”

“I haven’t got a gun and what would I shoot? Don’t you get locked up for things like that?”

“Clay shooting, dummy, look it up,” she said before shimmying off to her busy life, which happens to include a lot of huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’.

So that’s how I found myself at Barbury Shooting School, at Wroughton, where I’d booked a session to join the ladies of the award-winning Shotgun And Chelsea Bun Club.

Everyone from beginners to seasoned shots were welcomed with bacon rolls and coffee and issued with ear defenders and safety spectacles.

We split into groups for the safety talk. Always carry your gun unloaded and uncocked. That’s the biggest rule and it is drummed home over and over throughout the morning.

Then we were off to the targets. The clays are released at various heights and speeds by nifty little machines.

The first one was a disaster as the gun kicked back on my face. Ouch. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

“Keep your cheek flat on the side of the rifle said my instructor.” So I did. And it worked.

From then on clay shooting was hugely satisfying. With an overall score of six out of 10 I was pretty chuffed with myself.

The clays that skimmed the ground were the hardest. Good job I am not in charge of controlling vermin, that’s all I can say.

There were plenty of regulars in my group.

“I try to shoot around half a dozen times a year. It’s really relaxing and takes your mind off everything,” said one.

“I had a baby six weeks ago and this is my ‘me time’ while Dad does some bonding,” said another.

Clay shooting is addictive. There’s always the ‘I think I could have done that better,’ thought after each shot, and the temptation to buy ‘just one more round’ of cartridges is hard to resist.

Everyone is incredibly supportive. ‘Good shot!’ rings out loudly and repeatedly from the hedgerows.

After two hours of trudging around in the beautiful countryside, waiting for my team mates to take their shots and stepping up to the mark myself I was so laid back I couldn’t remember where I had parked the car.

“Come and have some cake, that will help you remember,” said one of the team.

Could I shoot a living thing? Not a chance.

But clay shooting is a skill that can be perfected and, as hobbies go, it’s up there as a strong contender in my book.

“Were you really any good at it? I can’t imagine you with a gun,” asked my daughter later.

“Actually I was a flipping crack shot,” I said as I flicked through the channels for a good old Western on TV.

Might just pick up a few tips from the OK Corral.

The Shotgun And Chelsea Bun Club is the UK’s largest shooting club for women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Membership is £75 for 12 months or £9 a month and they meet at venues throughout the country.

For more information go to www.shotgunandchelseabunclub.co.uk.