HALF PRICE OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today CLICK HERE

Young Shots

11:49 15 June 2012

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

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Out & About

Fri, 12:43
St John's in Hedge End is an attractive Victorian church

Suburbia and the living is easy, says Emma Caulton on a visit to Hedge End and West End

Read more
Spending just a few minutes a day enjoying nature can do wonders for your health (Photo by Matthew Roberts)

Undertaking Random Acts of Wildness for 30 days is proven to enhance your health and wellbeing says Lianne de Mello from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust...

Read more
Fri, 12:19
The Heavy Horse Musical Drive entertains the crowds

Be in with a chance to win a family ticket to this year’s New Forest Show from July 26-28 and experience agricultural entertainment at its best

Read more
Fri, 09:38
Wheelwrights Cottage by Neil Howard (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0) via flic.kr/p/aimUNL. Edited with addtext.com

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tue, 16:21

Celebrate the Queen’s 90th with a right royal bonanza at Bel & the Dragon in the quintessential English village of Kingsclere.

Read more
Tue, 10:49
From the path there is a great view of Deane House (private) where Jane met Tom LeFroy © Steve Davison

Head to the west of Basingstoke for a walk in Jane Austen country says Steve Davison

Read more
Tue, 10:30
The gardens are a hidden oasis (Photo: Fareham Borough Council)

Whether you stumble across its gardens, exhibits and café by chance or are a regular visitor, Fareham’s Westbury Manor conjures up plenty of surprises. Viv Micklefield stops off for a spot of time travelling

Read more
Mon, 14:42

The Burley Village Show is being held in the Manor Park, Burley, on Saturday 6 August.

Read more
Thursday, May 19, 2016

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is hosting an open day at its Equestrian facility on Sunday 12 June.

Read more
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
New Forest Marathon

Inspired by the antics of Eddie Izzard’s 27 marathons in 27 days? Why not take to the trails yourself and sign up for one of the county’s excellent running events. Claire Pitcher gives you a head start with her top routes

Read more
Monday, May 16, 2016
Beach huts and fossil hunting at Barton on Sea

Sunsets and seaside, motorbikes and pony rides, celeb spotting and fossil hunting, New Milton makes an eclectic destination says Emma Caulton

Read more
Thursday, May 12, 2016

We’ve all spent many an enjoyable summer’s evening in a beer garden or at a friends for a BBQ, but they all just seem so… typical

Read more
Monday, May 9, 2016
Luka and Bluebells by Kevin Friery (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0) via flic.kr/p/nou27r

It’s safe to say we all love Hampshire and everything it has to offer. The same certainly goes for our canine friends too...

Read more
Monday, May 9, 2016
Odiham Castle

With such a vibrant community, there’s something for all interests in Odiham, from foodies to history buffs says Claire Pitcher

Read more


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search