Shooting school with a difference
Matt Clark looks at how learning to shoot can change the lives of young people for the better
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.”
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”
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