Our latest edition of Who Am I features Giles and Nia. Another fantastic story of the benefits of shooting and how it involves people from every background. Giles’ and Nia’s story especially highlights how inclusive shooting is as a sport and how it can be an important way for many people to continue socialising.
Tell us about yourself, age, bit of background, job, rough location
My name is Giles and I live with my wife of 21 years, Nia, in Paignton. I work as a Sales Manager for an international heating company and get to travel all round the South of England.
I was brought up in London, although it was no surprise to my family when I left for more rural climes as soon as I was old enough.
How did you get into shooting?
I moved with Nia to Devon many years ago and we decided that as a way of meeting people we fancied trying Archery as a good way to participate in something together as Nia has a heart condition which limits her doing anything too active.
A few years and many competitions later, a new member we had befriended told us he was a member of the local small-bore rifle club and thought it might be something else we would enjoy. A taster session later and we were hooked, another joint hobby and something else to do together.
In the last couple of years, Nia has developed a form of Rheumetoid Arthritus and had to give up Archery when she could no longer draw her bow. Shooting in it’s various forms has allowed us to continue enjoying a joint hobby as it is a sport which is inclusive to all, regardless of physical ability and enables us to enjoy a mutual hobby on equal terms.
What type of shooting do you currently participate in/List of achievements?
As members of a Small-bore rifle and pistol club we spent 6 months as probationary members, and tired of using club guns which were constantly adjusted by others decided to apply for our Firearms certificates so we could own our own competition firearms.
Our first purchases were the obligatory Ruger 10/22 rifles that have largely replaced pistols in small-bore clubs since the handgun ban, although I also bought a Winchester 9422 to satisfy the inner cowboy having been brought up on a diet of Saturday Westerns.
We have also bought a couple of BSA Martini single shot rifles from the club and converted them to benchrest rifles, which proved invaluable when Nia’s arthritus got more aggressive and for a while she was unable to hold her Ruger, although medication has improved things. Being able to still enjoy her hobby was a lifesaver through this period as it gave her a reason to get out and engage with the world.
Club competitions encourage us to continue to strive to improve and even if we are not at the top level, the competition between us has cost me many a takeaway.
Do you see yourselves taking up any other form of shooting in the future?
I have already moved into other forms of shooting, although all target as whilst I am comfortable that others hunt as it helps to preserve the countryside I love so much, I was brought up in London and have no desire personally.
However, when we applied for our FAC’s it made sense to also get the shotgun component and it was only a matter of time before I bought an under/over so I could join friends at the local clay ground. That hooked me and I fell in love with the bang. The bigger the better, so the next stage was to join a fullbore club and now I shoot a black powder Uberti New Army, a replica of the revolver that Buffalo Bill carried (do you see the cowboy theme) and the only way I can shoot a traditional fullbore pistol in competition in the UK.
The final stage was a bargain on offer at the local gun shop which saw me apply for a variation so I could pick up a Mauser K98K for £95 in original condition. Chambered in 7.62 nato, I shoot it at a military range in Cornwall and there is nothing that beats shooting 600 yards with iron sights and a 65 year old rifle.
How important is shooting to you/how has it helped you as a person?
Shooting is an integral part of my life and has taken over the last couple of years. It is the ideal hobby for us as a competative couple as I cannot think of another sporting hobby where a 5′ lady with Athritus and a 6’2” bloke can compete as equals. If you can suggest one I would like to know so we can have a go.
We have also found the shooting community a great source of new friends. Without exception everyone we have met has gone out of their way to make us welcome, and we have never tried any sport where people are so keen to let you have a go with their equipment. If money was no object I would need a new house to house the firearms I have lusted over.
Would you recommend shooting as a sport for young people? If so why?
Our Smallbore rifle club, Paignton Rifle and Pistol Club (http://prpc.org.uk) has a thriving junior membership. As a child I was a scout and the experience was invaluble in teaching me to listen to people, take instruction, work with others and understand discipline. I feel that shooting as a competative sport is the same. To enjoy our hobby safely it is vital to learn to listen, take instruction, act responsibly and be disciplined. All traits that any junior will benefit from growing up understanding.
What has been the best shooting experience for you so far?
I was thinking to list all the occasions I have been able to put a smile on my face with a big bang, and the bruise on my shoulder from shooting my Replica Bengal Carbine Percussion Musket is up there, but when I think deeper I think the best experience was when a new member brought her Daughter to the club one Sunday. The lass admitted that guns scared her and so we encouraged her to have a go on a .22 benchrest rifle. Half an hour later, once she had seen how safe it was and scored a 92/100 she was happily comparing her card with her mum’s in our social area. She is now looking to join the club and that is the most satisfaction you can get I think.
What other hobbies/interests do you have?
I have done many things over the years, but the satisfaction of always trying to improve has meant that, apart from enjoying living in Torbay, one of the most beautiful parts of the country , shooting has kind of taken over our lives.
The biggest problem is there is always something new to try.
What changes to firearms law would you like to see in the future?
Had I been into shooting a few years ago, I would have said the licencing system was sensible and fair. I have no issue with the police knowing who own firearms and the requiremment to show good reason to own them, be that competitive shooting or hunting for food or conservation. If the system had been managed effectively I am confident that the incidents that so affected the shooting community would not have occurred. When the pistol ban came into force, I was, like I think the majority of the public were, and had no real interest in the result. I didn’t shoot and more importantly I didn’t consider how the ban would affect law abiding firearms owners. It was sold as making society safer and I got on with my life whilst the politicians made their decision.
Now I shoot, and have a desire to be able to shoot firearms that are no longer available to me I find myself researching the rational behind the decision to ban legally owned firearms from lawful members of society. What is clear to me is that the decision, wrapped up in making society safer, took advantage of a tragic incident as an opportunity to continue a thinly disguised desire to generally disarm the public, a policy that government has been working on for almost 100 years.
So, rather than expecting a relaxation of the law, something that will not happen anytime soon, I implore everyone, regardless of their involvement in our hobby to stand behind Firearms UK and the Unity 2015 campaign http://firearmsuk.org/unity-2015-the-next-step/ , regardless of your chosen shooting discipline.
To put this in perspective, 22,000 shooters signed the petition to allow competition pistol ownership last year, way short of the numbers required to move it forward, yet over 100,000 signed a petition to keep Jeremy Clarkson on TopGear, a man who admitted to workplace violence.
United we stand, divided, we will see our rights eroded until the only people able to shoot are the criminals who still own the pistols that we are deemed too irresponsible to own. Need I say more.
(Thank you for the kind words of support Giles-Editor)