Shoot­ing school with a dif­fer­ence

Matt Clark looks at how learn­ing to shoot can change the lives of young peo­ple for the bet­ter

Sporting Gun - - CONTENTS - Words Matt Clark Pic­tures Matt Clark, Paul Quagliana, jaMes MarChing­ton

Matt Clark looks at how learn­ing to shoot can change the lives of young peo­ple for the bet­ter.

su­ally when you read about guns in schools it is not good news. How­ever, there is one school in Glouces­ter­shire where shoot­ing can be seen to trans­form lives for the bet­ter, giv­ing young­sters self-be­lief, rais­ing their self-es­teem and im­prov­ing their aca­demic per­for­mance.

Bre­don School is a small in­de­pen­dent school, spe­cial­is­ing in teach­ing pupils with dys­lexia. It has many ex­tra cur­ric­u­lar sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, but one sport in which it ex­cels is clay shoot­ing. It al­ready has a thriv­ing boys shoot­ing team and there is now a girls team.


Andy Wright, tech­nol­ogy and engi­neer­ing teacher in the school, helps or­gan­ise the shoot­ing team. He says, “I have seen young­sters trans­formed through shoot­ing. Many pupils are turned off ed­u­ca­tion be­fore com­ing here, but many who join the shoot­ing team come on leaps and bounds. They seem to be dif­fer­ent peo­ple and ma­ture a lot through find­ing some­thing they ex­cel at.”

David Florent, from The Ox­ford Gun Com­pany and a for­mer old boy, coaches shoot­ing at the school. He says Emily Ker­slake, aged 12, is one such pupil who has “grown” through her in­volve­ment with the shoot­ing team. She has been shoot­ing for just a few months but is al­ready part of the girls’ team. David says: “She’s re­ally come into her own be­cause she en­joys it. She is very re­laxed on the shoot­ing ground and she would never have been that re­laxed be­fore she started shoot­ing. This is part of the pupils lives and part of them.”

The school’s prin­ci­pal, David Ward, agrees, say­ing that shoot­ing is very good for chil­dren’s self-es­teem and that this in turn helps their aca­demic work. “Your be­hav­iour on the shoot­ing ground has to be im­pec­ca­ble. You have to be or­gan­ised, have the right kit and that same be­hav­iour is car­ried through to aca­demic work,” he says. “Not just that, the pas­toral care is im­mea­sur­able. You can’t choose your par­ents or teach­ers but you can choose your men­tor in sports and the sup­port that gives to the young peo­ple is very im­por­tant to their devel­op­ment.”

Com­pet­ing at the top

Hav­ing played pro­fes­sional rugby at a high level, the prin­ci­pal knows what it’s like to com­pete at a high level and what value that can be to young peo­ple. The se­cret to do­ing well, he says, is about ded­i­ca­tion and look­ing for­ward

to some­thing dif­fer­ent in the school day be­cause it is very mo­ti­vat­ing. “You may have been un­suc­cess­ful in ev­ery les­son and have dif­fi­cul­ties in read­ing and writ­ing, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t ex­cel as a shooter and be recog­nised in school for do­ing well in that sport. It’s a sim­ple for­mula.”

The school runs a pro­gramme called ACE which sup­ports pupils to help them shine at var­i­ous sports as well as get coach­ing and qual­i­fi­ca­tions to get them to the Olympics.

This might sound as if a lot of pres­sure Sup­port

Shoot­ing coaches and teach­ers at Bre­don School. Back Left: David Florent, Tom Howe and Doug Florent. Front right: Andy Wright, David Ward and Sarah Lea is be­ing put on the pupils. Surely that’s not good for them? But speak­ing to 14 year-old Olivia Lowe, who is part of the fe­male team, she has em­braced the chal­lenge to get to the Olympics. “I re­ally en­joy shoot­ing. There is so much to learn and I en­joy it more as I im­prove,” she says.

Her im­me­di­ate am­bi­tion is to win one of the new cars up for grabs in this year’s Schools Chal­lenge. “If I win, I want to give the car to my par­ents to thank them for sup­port­ing me be­cause shoot­ing is an ex­pen­sive sport.”


Lis­ten­ing to the coaches, David Florent and Ground Man­ager, Tom Howe, from The Ox­ford Gun Com­pany talk­ing to teacher An­drew Wright, you can tell they have the chil­dren’s in­ter­est at heart. They knew who would bounce back from de­feat and who wasn’t ready for the stresses and strains of high level com­pe­ti­tion.

As David the Prin­ci­pal says, “Learn­ing about how to ac­cept fail­ure and deal with suc­cess is all part of sports and that is what helps young peo­ple ma­ture.”

Schol­ar­ship boy

Cap­tain of the boys shoot­ing team,

Ja­cob Kelly, has just joined the school on a shoot­ing schol­ar­ship. He wants to rep­re­sent Great Bri­tain in Olympic Trap. When you meet him he comes across as a typ­i­cal 15 year-old, slightly gauche but a very open and pleas­ant young man. On the shoot­ing ground his de­meanor changes. He is more fo­cused, more se­ri­ous and his main concern is look­ing af­ter the team and keep­ing them on task.

“You may have been un­suc­cess­ful in class and have dif­fi­cul­ties in read­ing and writ­ing, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t ex­cel as a shooter”

Olympic dream

The pro­gramme helps pupils get coach­ing and qual­i­fi­ca­tions to get them to the Olympics


Many stu­dents have been trans­formed by join­ing the shoot­ing team at Bre­don School

Girl power Olivia Lowe is the cap­tain of the first girls team at Bre­don School

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