National Shooting Week is upon us with clay and rifle clubs across the country opening their doors to guests in a bid to introduce new members to our community. It truly is a noble effort and an effective one considering that it is truly on a national scale. With this in mind how can we as a community look towards accommodating for potential young shooters?
From the perspective of a young shooter introducing your peers into the community is often fraught with supposed danger, ignorance and trepidation. Shooting, both target and clay have over the years had unsavoury opinions made by those not knowing the truth about them. Schools and Universities are no different in this, I know from personal experience that the negative attitudes encountered from fellow students and staff alike can be truly disheartening. Yet again, there is always a number who look upon our sport with a positive curiosity. There are times, whilst being among the student body of an institution, when concealing our sport and interests may seem the best way forward, if simply to avoid being considered something rather unsavoury. This needs to change.
I never hid my interests; from day one I made it known that I was a shooter, why should we be ashamed. We as a group need to take the bull by the horns, the more positive exposure and the more we can make the sport just a part of ordinary life the better. It is also important that it becomes a normal fixture for those from all generations. It is notable and commendable that the home page of the National Shooting Week’s website features a large photo of Olympic Gold Medalist with some young shooters. Countryside Alliance made a clever and positive move in using this, we should not be ashamed of promoting our sport to youngsters as it offers some many positive outcomes to someone’s development in life. The recent media exposure of the exceptional clay shooting talents of 16 year old Amber Hill is also another great leap forward in the process of making shooting a normal activity for young people.
The question remains, how can we incorporate and expand the valiant efforts of National Shooting Week to encourage potential young shooters into the sport? The starting point is you, young shooters you are the gateway for others, you can make the difference. Be proud of your sport, wear shooting related clothing with pride and openly discuss your sport, yes there will always be those who can never be persuaded, some battles, in those cases are just not worth fighting. Regardless of this, take others shooting, try organising a clay shoot with some friends or those who have shown some interest. If you’re a rifle shooter and your club hosts guests days invite some of your peers to shoot with you, even if they do not take up shooting at least you have opened another person’s mind and shown them the reality of what the sport is.
All in all, National Shooting Week should be seen as a model for us to follow, it is great to have these type of large drives to show what shooting sports are really about, however, remember that this can be done all year round and when it comes to bringing in new young shooters the task starts with you.