NGO COL­UMN: En­cour­ag­ing the new kids on the block

Whether game shoot­ing or stalk­ing, beat­ing or pick­ing-up, new­com­ers should be nur­tured and en­cour­aged, says Tim We­ston, urg­ing us all to do what we can to help these folk suc­ceed

Sporting Shooter - - Contents -

In­tro­duc­ing new peo­ple to shoot­ing is vi­tal for our sport. Whether it’s get­ting your young­sters or your friends in­volved, new blood, so to speak, is needed to keep our sport in its cur­rent buoy­ant and thriv­ing state.

I spend quite a lot of my week­ends dur­ing the sum­mer at coun­try shows across the south of Eng­land and I am al­ways re­ally pleased to see the

Whether young or old, it’s im­por­tant to en­cour­age new blood into our sport num­ber of new shoot­ers at the BASC Have a Go stand. BASC and their coaches do this re­ally well and they are great at get­ting peo­ple pulling the trig­ger at a clay for the first time.

Dur­ing the win­ter months, I am lucky enough to spend quite a few days out load­ing. This is re­ally use­ful with my day job be­cause I get to meet a huge num­ber of NGO mem­bers and keep­ers on the shoots, and it gives me a chance to have a proper chat to them and see what is go­ing on around the coun­try. Over the last cou­ple of sea­sons I have no­ticed a dra­matic in­crease in the num­ber of new Guns com­ing into shoot­ing.

Many of these are cor­po­rate teams. They will have one or two ‘old hands’ who have sorted out the day, and the rest are there to either see what it’s all about or be­cause they have been once or twice be­fore and en­joyed it.

These new Guns have a very dif­fer­ent out­look on shoot­ing; for them, it is some­thing that just hap­pens. They turn up for cof­fee in the morn­ing, meet the host and the loader and then off they go for a re­ally ex­cit­ing day in the beau­ti­ful Bri­tish coun­try­side. Some might be nat­u­rals and oth­ers will need some help, but hope­fully all will en­joy what shoot­ing has to of­fer. Not just the trig­ger pulling and the ex­cit­ing parts of shoot­ing but the scenery, the other wildlife and the ef­fort that goes into putting on a shoot.

When load­ing for these Guns, I feel that it’s im­por­tant to try to ex­plain what is go­ing on (as­sum­ing they want to know and talk) and what goes into pro­duc­ing a shoot. Most new Guns have no idea what the game­keeper’s role is, why the beat­ers are do­ing what they are do­ing and what the pick­ers-up are for. It is not se­cond na­ture for them to un­der­stand the shoot­ing field and, just like the BASC coaches at a game fair, as a loader or a shoot host you are in a unique po­si­tion to ed­u­cate those new Guns who want to

‘When load­ing for new Guns I feel it is im­por­tant to ex­plain what is go­ing on and what goes into pro­duc­ing a shoot, as most have no idea’

learn and help them un­der­stand what we all know so well. Most of us grew up with a .410 and went out shoot­ing with our par­ents, but that can’t be how ev­ery­one learns, so it’s down to us to give a help­ing hand to those new to the game.

It is not just driven game shoot­ing that is at­tract­ing new­com­ers. I do a lot of deer stalk­ing and am for­tu­nate to be able to take the odd per­son out to try and get their first deer. I also teach on the NGO’s Deer Stalk­ing Cer­tifi­cate Level 1 course, which is a great way to im­part some knowl­edge.

A re­cent at­tendee on one of the NGO deer stalk­ing cour­ses is a case in point. Ruben was su­per keen to learn and was al­ready com­pe­tent with a ri­fle. He had shot at Bis­ley for a long time and had taken part in tar­get shoot­ing matches. He did re­ally well on his DSC1 and put the work in to get through the course. He is very en­thu­si­as­tic about his ri­fle shoot­ing and keen to get more prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence on a lim­ited bud­get.

We have all been there and I wanted to help, so I agreed to take Ruben out for his first stalk. We had a re­ally good sneak through the woods look­ing for a munt­jac when all of a sud­den the sky went black and the heav­ens opened on a bib­li­cal scale. We had to aban­don our mis­sion and I in­vited Ruben back for a se­cond try. On this oc­ca­sion, he shot two munt­jac re­ally well and was bril­liantly com­posed. We gral­loched the deer to­gether and I hope he had a worth­while time.

What­ever it is you have to of­fer those who want to get into our sport, please en­cour­age them and do what you can to help.

The BASC coaches do a ster­ling job in­tro­duc­ing new peo­ple to shoot­ing

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