Amber Hill, a 16-year-old medal-winning clay target shot and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2013, met the Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Country Sports (APG) on 25th February.
Amber started shooting when she was 10 years old and her successes include winning the gold medal at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in 2013. Amber’s achievements highlight the inequality between Northern Ireland, where the minimum age at which a young person can use a shotgun under supervision without a certificate is 18, and the rest of the UK where no lower age limit exists. Supervised access to shooting is essential for young people wanting to learn the safety, discipline and responsibility involved in shooting sports.
Amber Hill said: “Being taught to shoot from a young age was the foundation of my success and I believe young people in Northern Ireland deserve the same opportunity. I fully support the campaign to have the age of supervised shooting reduced to 10.”
Danny Kinahan said: “I welcome the lowering of the minimum age for supervised shooting in Northern Ireland which will allow our young people to train and compete at the highest level.”
Tommy Mayne, director of BASC NI said: “BASC NI has been working on this issue with partner organisations the Countryside Alliance Ireland, the Gun Trade Guild NI and the Northern Ireland Firearms Dealers’ Association and we welcome the fact that Justice Minister David Ford MLA has agreed to reduce the age at which a young person can use a shotgun or airgun under supervision.”
The details of the change have yet to be finalised, however BASC and partner organisations believe that 10 years, the age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland, is an appropriate minimum age.
Tommy Mayne added: “Young people are the lifeblood of our sport and Amber Hill is a prime example of the success and benefits shooting can provide. It is important that Northern Ireland firearms legislation is changed to allow young people to be taught safety, responsibility and respect for firearms at an early age.”