It's hard to explain what happened when I was holding the gun, nuzzling the wood to my cheek and squinting down the barrel at a clay pigeon flying through the air.

I’ve never in my life had any desire to shoot a thing.

But when I squeezed that trigger, felt the kickback and watched the clay shatter, it felt unbelievably good.

Alan, my tutor, had handed me the Berretta. “Can you close your left eye?” he’d asked?

Uncertain whether this was anything more than an invitation to wink at him, I obliged and he seemed happy enough.

The clays we were using were simulating the birds on site at Ragley Hall – a clay pigeon darting up into the air before falling downward again and a teal duck flying low over the grass.

I cradled the heavy gun in my left hand, nestling the butt between my collar and the edge of my shoulder, and tucking the wood up close to my face. It’s the only sport I've ever tried where chubby cheeks seem to be an asset.

I closed my left eye, staring down the barrel with my right, and the pigeon shot up into the air. I followed it with the gun and fired one metre below it as it fell.

Jackpot. Three clays – three hits, causing Alan to repeatedly ask me whether it was really my first time.

I’d had visions of becoming an international shooting star and was wondering whether I was too late to sign up for Rio 2016 when my scattergun approach to the teal duck with a Winchester 101 brought me back down to earth.

A real Olympic shooting star, however, will be making an appearance at this weekend’s Country, Land and Business Association (CLA) Game Fair at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire.

Peter Wilson, the 27-year-old who took the gold medal in the double trap at London 2012, will be giving three lucky visitors a one-to-one lesson.

The Game Fair boasts the largest and most comprehensive shooting exhibition in Europe, but as well as catering to experienced sharp shooters it’s also throwing the gates open to newcomers with a range of have-a-go sessions in everything from clay shooting to field archery, fishing to falconry and traditional crafts to a Land Rover 4x4 course.

Andrew Crawford, director of the CLA, says: “It’s a show like no other.

“It’s a family show and we are attracting a diverse audience.”

Ruth Supple tries her hand at fly fishing
Ruth Supple tries her hand at fly fishing
 

The fair will include the largest fishing event in the UK, with a world-class line-up set to compete in the International Spey Casting Championship and visitors watching demonstrations of game, saltwater, freshwater, sea, carp and coarse fishing.

Having started 54 years ago, the Game Fair has grown from an audience of 8,000 at the first event to 150,000 at the last.

“We’ve worked quite hard to diversify,” says Andrew, “so I would say the audience is less your stereotypical lord and lady of the manor. Now it’s a fun family day out.

“We try and put as much on for free as possible, even to the point of subsidising it ourselves. So once people are through the gates we do all we can to give them a great day out.”

This year’s fair will include gundogs, horse logging, sheep dog displays, a climbing wall, zorbing, a food festival with 1,000 trade stands, and theatre debates on topics including food sourcing and HS2.

A fishing competition will see every person casting a line out over the course of the weekend entered into a prize draw to win a whopping £10,000 prize.

And a City Shots shooting competition aimed at businesses will see firms battle it out to be crowned the best.

Andrew says: “Field sports don’t get a good press. The only time a gun hits the headlines it’s in a negative sense.

“So the more people that can see it from a different perspective the better.

“The Game Fair certainly has a duty of care to encourage more people to have an understanding of what the countryside is.

“There’s an awful lot of conservation involved in field sports such as hunting, shooting and fishing.

“Rivers are clean because the Salmon and Trout Association, for example. It’s at the heart of field sports to help the countryside.

“Yet, that’s a surprise to some people.

“Hopefully some people will come along and try fishing or clay shooting for the first time and love it for the rest of their lives like our members do.”

* The Game Fair is on July 19-21. Visit www.gamefair.co.uk