Guns, tweed and the Welly Ball: Meet Newcastle’s Shooting Society

They have as many Northerners as Southerners

Shooting competitions in Scotland, pissing on hotel floors, shagging in the toilets at the Welly Ball – call them what you want, but the Newcastle Shooting Society is anything but boring.

Contrary to popular belief, the tight-knit group is made up of an equal ratio of men and women, most of whom had never held a gun before uni.  We spoke to the President, Matt Townson, about everything from learning to use guns to their socials in Flares.

What the shooting club is about?

The shooting club is a social club as well as it is sporting. Because shooting involves a lot of standing and talking, we’re a quite tight knit group of friends. We mainly do clay pigeon shooting, but we’re also trying to promote conservation issues so we get on quite well with the BASC. The shooting club’s purpose is to give people who’ve never been involved in shooting a fantastic new experience. Our treasurer for example, never held a gun before university but he’s now second team and a decent shot.

Shooting shit up

What do you actually get up to?

We show people how to handle the gun properly and safely, as well as showing people how to maintain the gun, cleaning it and storing them properly. On a Wednesday after shooting we go out for a pint or too many as a club which is always good fun, we usually go to a pub called the Badger which is just beside where we go shooting.

For socials it’s got to be Flares. I know everyone does, but we love Flares. We’re invited to competitions all over the country as well: we’re going down to Shropshire in a fortnight, then we’re going back up to Scotland in the Spring to try and win the competition there for a second year running.

Members of the shooting society after a day of shooting

We’ve also been invited to a few other competitions so it’s pretty exciting times. We’re also chuffed at the fact that we’ll be hosting our own shooting competition later this year here in Newcastle, which is a first. We’re hoping to get shooting societies from up and down the country coming along, we’ll have our “Guns and Horses” ball after, which we’re hoping to share with the Polo society who we get on great with. Exciting times really for shooting in Newcastle.

Is the shooting club a regional thing?

We usually get the “old boys club” mantra but it’s not true. I mean, we have a few rahs in the ranks but most of the people that have joined this year didn’t experience shooting before joining the club. We have an equal amount of men and women in the committee and we have as many northerners as we do southerners. I personally have been shooting since an early age but as I mentioned early, some of our best shots just picked it up since they started uni.

The shooting society out having fun

What is the Welly ball?

Well the Welly ball is paired with the St Andrews challenge, which is the largest student run shooting competition in the country. It was attended by about 230 this year. It’s accompanied by the Welly Ball on the night, it’s a big charity event, black tie but everyone comes in wellies. We had a bottle of wine on the table per person, as well as some more that people bought for themselves.

The meal was a proper hog roast – the crackling was divine. One of our members had this big cigar that Winston Churchill would’ve smoked, it took him ages to finish it. Around 700 people attend the meal and then another 700-800 for the after party so it’s a massive thing and gets fairly messy.

The shooting society at the ball

It raises money for the Charlie Walker Memorial Trust which helps young people with mental health issues, so it’s all for a great cause. It was bloody good fun. Quite easily the best weekend I’ve had since the Welly weekend last year.

How do you mean ‘messy’?

Well there was a lot of extremely drunken antics going around. One member pissed on the floor of the Premier Inn and wouldn’t stop even when asked too by staff. We racked up a £100 fine for that but the guy, after he sobered up he apologised profusely so it was all in good fun. You could see the guy on the front desk smirking.

One of our members always has car troubles whenever he goes to the Welly Ball, this year his brakes failed while he was on the A1. The day after the ball, we all decided to stay back a bit as we were four times over the Scottish limit. One guy threw up after just 20 minutes into the drive home.

One of our members successfully pulled two sisters, bit of shagging in toilets aswell. Apparently, I tried to get off with the VP by saying something like “You’re the vice, I’m the full president, we might as well”, it didn’t work. There was a lot of club incest from the other guys, however.

Are you taking the piss?

If you’re interested in joining the Shooting society, contact Matthew Townson on Facebook or at [email protected]

You can like their Facebook page here.