6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent 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.


More from Out & About

Yesterday, 16:21

Drink in the sight and smell of our native blooms on one of these wonderful wildflower walks

Read more

Wherever you go in Kent you'll find people just like us pounding the streets, parks and waterways. So why are we all running?

Read more
May 2019

Kent has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit and throughout the open garden season you'll find an array of stunning choices. Here's a selection of our favourites

Read more
April 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kent has many villages that exude historical charm and a traditional village atmosphere beloved by locals and visitors. Here we pick 10 of the prettiest to explore

Read more
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Whether it's a castle, stately country manor house or seafront hotel, Kent has the perfect venue

Read more
May 2019

Close neighbours, one ancient, one modern - meet the very different West Kent neighbours

Read more
May 2019

With its quirky shops, Norman castle, ancient cathedral and riverside setting, even Charles Dickens would agree it doesn't get much better than historic Rochester

Read more
Monday, April 29, 2019

Kent is not only home to many stunning beaches but also has some of the safest and cleanest in the country, many with prestigious Blue Flag status

Read more

From a gentle stroll to admire the flowers to expert-led walks, there's something for every May garden fan to enjoy

Read more
May 2019

Margate has one of the closest sandy beaches to London, it's been packing in the day-trippers for centuries and now boasts added cultural regeneration

Read more
May 2019

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
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life