CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Young Shots

PUBLISHED: 11:49 15 June 2012 | UPDATED: 22:03 21 February 2013

A day out shooting in the country with dad can be a real bonding experience - and it is one which teaches safety and maturity, says Countryside Life consultant, Graham Downing.

A day out shooting in the country with dad can be a real bonding experience - and it is one which teaches safety and maturity, says Countryside Life consultant, Graham Downing.

It is almost impossible to keep our youngsters away from shooting, says Graham Downing, and why would anyone want to?


Earlier this year Thomas

Docherty MP introduced a

Private Members Bill to the

House of Commons,

designed to set a minimum

age for the granting of a shot gun

certificate. He made plain his reason for

doing so. There is, at present, no minimum

age limit for holding a certificate to own a

shotgun and Mr Docherty wanted, in his

words, to send a clear and straightforward

message that our society is not comfortable

with the principle of young children

handling lethal weapons.

Perhaps we should first ask whose

society Mr Docherty was referring to. Was

he talking about the society in which

nearly half a million people go out into the

woods and fields during the winter

months to hunt gamebirds, pigeons and

rabbits or out onto the marshes and

estuaries in pursuit of ducks and geese?

Did he perhaps have in mind the fiercely

competitive world of target shooting that

will be a feature of the Olympic Games in

London in just a few weeks? I doubt it.

I have introduced many young people to

the sport of shooting. It is a sport in which

there is no age barrier. Indeed, in families

where shooting is a way of life, it is often

the case that as soon as children are

physically strong enough to spend a day

outdoors in the countryside they want to

do little else.

From the moment they pick up a stick

and join the beating line or tag along with

dad as he goes out shooting pigeons with

his friends, they are usually hooked. It is

then just a matter of time before they want

to have a go at shooting for themselves.

Earlier this year Thomas Docherty MP introduced a Private Members Bill to the House of Commons, designed to set a minimum age for the granting of a shot gun certificate. He made plain his reason for doing so. There is, at present, no minimum age limit for holding a certificate to own a shotgun and Mr Docherty wanted, in his words, to send a clear and straightforward message that our society is not comfortable with the principle of young children handling lethal weapons.

Perhaps we should first ask whose society Mr Docherty was referring to. Was he talking about the society in which nearly half a million people go out into the woods and fields during the winter months to hunt gamebirds, pigeons and rabbits or out onto the marshes and estuaries in pursuit of ducks and geese? Did he perhaps have in mind the fiercely competitive world of target shooting that will be a feature of the Olympic Games in London in just a few weeks? I doubt it.

I have introduced many young people to the sport of shooting. It is a sport in which there is no age barrier. Indeed, in families where shooting is a way of life, it is often the case that as soon as children are physically strong enough to spend a day outdoors in the countryside they want to do little else.

From the moment they pick up a stick and join the beating line or tag along with dad as he goes out shooting pigeons with his friends, they are usually hooked. It is then just a matter of time before they want to have a go at shooting for themselves.

In Britain, the law does not preventparents or responsible adults fromintroducing their children to the sport ofshooting. What it does, however, is toinsist that children may only handle a gununder strict adult supervision. That isexactly as it should be. The law also rightlyplaces certain conditions upon thepossession of firearms, such that only invery tightly defined circumstances may aperson borrow a gun without himselfholding a certificate.

And so, in many cases, a young would-beshooter has to apply for and obtain ashot gun certificate for him or herself.I have watched a number of youngstersgo through this process, including my ownson, who obtained his certificate from thepolice at the age of 11. Young people growin maturity when they do so. An interviewwith the police firearms licensing officer just the same as for an adult means theytake on board the responsibility of holdinga certificate. The slightest brush with thelaw would almost certainly result in theloss of their privilege. They also lap upadvice and information from adultshooters or from books and magazines.

Basic gun safety is something taught toevery young shooter, things such as how tocross a fencesafely; how to put a gun in aslip properly and take it out again; andalways to carry a gun open and emptywhen in the company of others. Oncetaught, they never forget. How often do Isee young people handling a gun unsafely?Very rarely. How often do I see shootersof advanced years do so? All too often.

Many of the older generation were nevergiven formal tuition in gun safety andbasic gun handling; they were expected topick it up as they went along. That is notthe case today.

Those who start young often go on toachieve greater proficiency than peoplewho start as adults. Take, for example,Richard Faulds who has won 19 worldchampionship titles and took gold at theSydney Olympics. He got his shot guncertificate when he was nine and by theage of 13 was competing for his country.

I suspect the young children MrDocherty referred to are the inhabitants ofa rather different sub-culture, that of theinner-city back streets. This is a placewhere a gun is not a piece of sportingequipment or a passport to building astronger relationship with ones parents,but a badge of power and control.

If indeed that is the case and I amcorrect in my assumption, then we can restassured that his Bill, were it ever tobecome law, would not have the slightestbenefit to the public. Ihave yet to find a member of a streetgang who holds a shot gun or firearmcertificate, let alone is prepared to pay 50and submit himself to an interview with apolice firearms licensing officer in order toobtain one.


0 comments

More from Out & about

Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search