BASC Young Shots compete in the Gaggeneau Bleasdale Challenge

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 July 2014

Daryn Hufton-Rees and Lawrence Wallace

Daryn Hufton-Rees and Lawrence Wallace

Archant

A project being pioneered in Lancashire is turning 12 to 21-year-olds into ambassadors for countryside sports

Pre shoot discussion for the Young Shots; Jamie Holden, William Garlick, Lucy Porter, Lucy Marsden, Liam Cupit, Josh Bridges, Ben Pimblett and James Dargan-ColePre shoot discussion for the Young Shots; Jamie Holden, William Garlick, Lucy Porter, Lucy Marsden, Liam Cupit, Josh Bridges, Ben Pimblett and James Dargan-Cole

Whenever guns and children are mentioned in the same breath eyebrows will be raised in some quarters.

But here in Lancashire young people are taking part in a scheme that positively encourages them to use guns but in a controlled, safe environment.

The Young Shots ambassadors project is run by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the driving force behind it is the organisation’s regional officer, Duncan Thomas.

He and his colleagues know there are those who will never see eye-to-eye with game shooting, especially when it involves children.

James Holden, Wjames Dargan- Cole, Ben Pimblett, Liam Cupit, William Garlick, Duncan Thomas, Lucy Porter, Lucy Marsden and Josh BridgesJames Holden, Wjames Dargan- Cole, Ben Pimblett, Liam Cupit, William Garlick, Duncan Thomas, Lucy Porter, Lucy Marsden and Josh Bridges

But the truth is that there are children in Lancashire as young as eight who have shotgun certificates and, in Berkshire’s Amber Hill, the UK has the rising star of shooting. At 16, she was the youngest ever world champion and was BBC Young Personality of the Year. Our own John Bridges, a 16-year-old from Foulridge, is number two in the world for his age group.

But Duncan firmly believes that Young Shots can teach a lot more than how to aim a gun. ‘We are about empowering kids,’ says the former police wildlife officer.

Young Shots in Lancashire has 15 recruits between 12 and 21 who will be given the chance to learn a wide range of skills from experts. These include clay, target, game and pigeon shooting, wildfowling, deer stalking, fly-fishing and wildlife conservation.

Once they become proficient, they then recruit groups from schools and social circles and they will pass on their skills at organised events. To finance the scheme in Lancashire, BASC members have held a series of fundraising events.

There are no shortage of interested youngsters whose wealthy parents shoot as a sport. But Duncan, who recently received up an outstanding service award from BASC, is keen to attract youngsters from outside the usual shooting circles. ‘We don’t want this to be seen as a sport exclusively for posh people,’ he says. ‘We want a range of social groups. I see this as more like martial arts. It teaches discipline, social skills and an awareness of what makes the countryside tick. Those taking part have been vetted and the is project run properly, and is well supervised.

‘And we expect something back from the young people on the scheme – they have to work for it. This involves standing up in schools and making presentations, helping to run fundraising events and getting involved in our Taste of Game food campaign.

‘For a long time it was very tweedy, sit down while granddad explains the right way to do it. We want young people to drive our projects – not just do what adults tell them.’

They’re on target

The Young Shots competed against many older guns at the Gaggeneau Bleasdale Challenge, organised by Suzana Edwards and Butterfly Ball Events to raise money for The Prince’s Trust.

They acquitted themselves well coming third and 14th out of 21 teams, earning themselves a standing ovation at a celebration meal created by Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth.

Around £50,000 was made on the day and £3,500 of that came from the Young Shots. If you want to find out more about the project young can contact Duncan Thomas at Duncan.Thomas@basc.org.uk

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