HALF PRICE SALE Subscribe to Hampshire Life 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

Yesterday, 14:53
Crescent Gardens

Take up the opportunity to visit Hampshire’s most interesting historic buildings, usually closed to the public, as Heritage Open Days encourages everything from grand mansion houses and museums to hidden air raid shelters to open their doors… Claire Pitcher explores

Read more
Tue, 16:36

On 11 and 12 September, enjoy whole evening of entertainment before watching a film under the stars.

Read more
Tue, 14:45
Bluebells near Wickham by Jon Mack under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/) via flic.kr/p/5JSMMp

A beautiful village is something we’re certainly not short of here in Hampshire. We decided to shortlist 10 and invite you to vote for your favourite!

Read more
Tue, 14:44
Ice Cream van at Gunwharf Quays (Getty Images)

Whether it’s a simple 99 or something a bit more adventurous, there’s a good range on offer when it comes to ice cream (with some sorbet and gelato on the way) here in Hampshire

Read more
Tue, 10:30
Looking north-west over the Blackgang Chine Amusement Park towards the distant cliffs of Tennyson Down © Steve Davison

Follow Steve Davison across to the Isle of Wight for a walk at Niton, visiting the fascinating St Catherine’s Oratory

Read more
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A selection of fantastic Hampshire events and things to do on bank holiday Monday 31 August...

Read more
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Wellington Farm Shop by Alexander Baxevanis under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/) via flic.kr/p/5VNz26

If there’s one thing we love to do here at Hampshire Life, it’s to celebrate local produce! So here are a selection of some of the best farm shops across the county where you’ll find just that

Read more
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Winchester City Mill and bridge spanning the River Itchen. The Mill was first recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086, but was rebuilt in 1744, and is now restored to full working order; Credit National Trust Images/Phil Ripley

Winchester’s City Mill welcomes visitors to explore the country’s newest National Park says Joanna Crosse

Read more
Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hampshire Country Sports Day has an action-packed programme of events and entertainment for the annual countryside extravaganza to be held on Sunday 13 September at Tichborne Park near Alresford, as a brand new show sponsor: GMK Limited of Fareham, suppliers of the famous Benelli shotguns, is announced.

Read more
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Bembridge lifeboat station at dusk. Credit: Island Visions Photography

Fabulous local food, historic hideaways and bucket loads of outdoor pursuits makes this favoured destination of royals, writers and rock stars well worth the short hop from the mainland writes Viv Micklefield

Read more
Monday, August 17, 2015
The team on site in the 1970s

Reading University’s Professor Michael Fulford has been excavating at Silchester for over 40 years. Here he picks five of their most significant finds to date

Read more
Monday, August 17, 2015
The Observatory in its original location in Winchester. Photo by Matt Dunkinson

Earlier this year, ‘The Observatory’ arrived at Winchester Science Centre creating a window into the work of three contemporary artists. Now this extraordinary rotating studio has its temporary home and three new occupants at Lymington’s Keyhaven marshes. Viv Micklefield finds out what happens when art goes outside the gallery

Read more
Monday, August 10, 2015
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Baking is big business nowadays (partly down to a certain television show) but not everyone has the time to make that perfect loaf or cake every morning. So we’ve rounded up a selection of bakeries across Hampshire which will do the job for you!

Read more
Monday, August 10, 2015
Seafront at south-facing Ventnor

If you’re looking for value for money and a gentler pace of life, then the Isle of Wight calls, says Emma Caulton

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP




subscription ad
subscription ad
Hampshire's trusted business finder