ONCE Emma Parkinson had trouble seeing the blackboard at school, now her finger is firmly on the trigger as she takes on the precision world of clay pigeon shooting.

The 20-year-old from Brimfield underwent laser eye surgery two years ago and just like the clays, her passion for the sport is in the ascendency. Emma has taken her place in the England team and she is currently national lady champion.

Apart from that, the first year law student's shooting prowess puts her as county champion, inter-county champion and area champion. Last year she was runner up in the British Open Championships and this summer she will be gunning for top honours.

"I missed by one clay last year," explains the bubbly former Lucton School pupil, who has also proved herself in equestrian spheres. But life was always a struggle for Emma due to her poor sight, she admits. Now overjoyed at having 20/20 vision, she gives a wholehearted recommendation for laser surgery.

"I couldn't see much further than two metres away, I couldn't see people when I was talking to them," she says. Horse-riding had been Emma's main pursuit, but even then her contact lenses tended to dry out and cause pain while she was in the saddle.

She had followed her mother, Amanda's passion since the age of three, taking part in top level events. "Then I had an accident a couple of years ago riding a young horse and damaged my back so that I couldn't compete."

She took up her father, Ian's invitation to join him at a clay shooting ground. Such was her determination, she stayed all day in efforts to hit the targets, and found herself well and truly hooked.

She still shoots with her father's hand-me-down Browning rifle. "He's had it since he was 18 so it's very old," says Emma. "When I'm asked what gun are you getting next, I say I'm happy with the Browning, it's nice I'm shooting with my Dad's old gun."

She continues: "I was lucky enough to be spotted by my coach, David Beardsmore who is just amazing. I wouldn't be where I am now without him!"

She advocates clay pigeon shooting for all. "Youngsters, people from all walks of life can take up this brilliant sport." Emma even met her boyfriend, Jack Miles when he was working at a shooting ground.

"I can't say how supportive my parents have been, and Jack comes with me to the end of the earth shooting!"

Emma's own story is an inspiring one. "I always had really poor eyesight, I could only see close up," she says. "At school I couldn't see the blackboard even if I was sitting at the front of the class,." She confesses she was "embarrassed" to wear glasses when she was younger.

When she took part in horse events, she had to walk the course first. "I had to study the numbers of the fences thoroughly to see where I was going, it was such a pain!"

She is currently having nerve treatment for her back injury, and will consider having an operation in the future.

While clays have not "taken over" from her love of equestrian events, shooting is a sport she is able to pursue. It irequires firm commitment; Emma's nearest clay pigeon ground is at Ombersley, and she regularly makes the hour-and-a-half trip to Uttoxeter where her coach is based.

"When I first started university, I didn't get to practice that much, but once I'd got used to it I could sort out my timetable," she says. "My weekends are packed with horses and finding time for shooting."