When you think of a shooting range, pink nails and gun cartridges are not things which immediately spring to mind but Bracknell’s Amber Hill has always stood out from the crowd.
When the wind and rain of the rugby fields, where she used to watch her brother play, became tiresome, Hill sought solace in the form of her grandfather, Bill Rogers.
“Granddad, can I come clay pigeon shooting with you?” - It was a question which would change all of their lives forever.
Rogers agreed and took his granddaughter to E.J. Churchill shooting range in High Wycombe and as they say, the rest is history, with Hill this week been named among the Team GB shooting team for next year’s Olympics in Rio,
He recalled: “She came along with me and asked ‘can I have a go?’ I said ‘it will probably put you on your back Amber’ because of the impact but she really wanted a go. Anyway, we stood behind her and she fired the gun a few times and she said ‘I really want to do this’.”
Rogers, who is from Windsor, started taking his granddaughter to all of the ranges in the surrounding areas and it became apparent very early on that she had a special talent.
But that is not to say there were not challenges at the beginning.
“When she first started [competing] at around ten, she was too small to see over the barrier to shoot so we had to put a milk crate down and she would shoot with us holding her, because obviously there is a bit of movement backwards,” Rogers said.
“A couple of times the top of the wood fence got shot because she wasn’t old enough to hold the gun high enough.”
Hill was one of the youngest people in the UK to obtain a shotgun license and by the age of ten she was competing in local events in sporting clay shooting. By 11 the former Claire’s Court pupil had moved to English skeet and at the age of 12 she had made the senior England women’s team.
She was named the 2013 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year following her achievements while 2015 has seen her win the skeet title at the inaugural European Games in June,
Hill’s other passion is beauty therapy and she has broken the mould in shooting by having not only painted nails but also guns and pink gun cartridges.
“It shows young girls that you can still have a girly side while being focussed and determined on the sport,” Hill said.
She is currently doing a part-time course at Beauty Academy in Reading, adding: “It is something that I am really into and I think it is quite nice to have a balance with my girly side as well because it is a big part of who I am.
“It is something that I really want to do any way but it is always good to have a back-up as well because who knows where I will be in ten years time. It is something that I could always fall back on.”
But with World, European and British titles to her name before the age of 18, and qualification for the Rio Olympics already secure, one suspects she will not be requiring a job change any time soon.
Did you know: Amber likes to get herself pumped up for competitions by listening to Eminem’s Lose Yourself, while her treat for some sharp shooting will be a handful of chocolate buttons!