Young Shots and wildfowlers reconnaissance
Young Shots Wildfowling event

Encouraging wildfowlers of the future

Inspiring young people was the main aim of a recent introduction to wildfowling day hosted by Preston and District Wildfowlers Association (PDWA) and supported by BASC North.

The event was the third young shots day PDWA has run with BASC, and the club aims to continue to run similar events bi-annually.

Early start

The day started early at the Dolphin Clay Target Centre near Preston with a get-together over a bacon and sausage sandwich, introducing the attendees to PDWA members and BASC staff, who were there to mentor and support them.

The young shots were given a comprehensive insight into all aspects of wildfowling and an all-important safety briefing, rounded off with an evening flight to finish the day.

Ten young people took part in the event, three from the club and seven invited by BASC, with all having some basic knowledge of shooting with shotguns, but little to no experience of wildfowling.

A wildfowling experience not to be forgotten

For most, the day was their first experience going out on the marsh. The young shots were given a welcome introduction from club chairman Chris Kelly and BASC North regional officer Gavin Howe, followed by a presentation from club vice chairman Keith Ogden. They learned what wildfowling is, what species of wildfowl were present on the marsh and what conservation efforts the club is providing for those species.

Chris Kelly commented: “Young people are the future of our sport. We truly hope that our endeavour has sown the seed in some up-and-coming wildfowlers.”

YS WF day classroom learning

A range of activities

For the rest of the morning, the budding wildfowlers were split into smaller groups for a range of activities to prepare them for the evening flight.

While some went out on the marsh to see the habitat and sanctuary areas that the club provides for different species of birds, others were shown a variety of equipment used for wildfowling, including historic and modern guns and ammunition, duck calls and decoys.

A warming hotpot lunch was followed by more activities, which included distance judging using decoys and preparing birds for the table.

The hammer gun experience

Having practice shooting standing, sitting and kneeling on clay pigeons, the young shots were also given the unique opportunity to try an 8-bore hammer gun, which went down rather well! Finally, the young shots were taken out for the evening flight, each with a mentor.

Having been fully briefed and informed about wildfowling by his grandson Jake on the way home after the event, Jack Giddins praised the initiative highly, saying: “The opportunities that BASC’s young shots project has given to my grandson and many other young people are phenomenal, and this day hosted by PDWA is the latest example of how important such events are

“We can’t thank Gavin Howe enough for instigating this introduction, and the help and enthusiasm shown by the PDWA and their mentors was incredible. 

“As well as meeting new friends, it is so comforting for young people coming into the sport to be taught the importance of gun safety discipline from the start, along with conservation benefits of the sport, and shooting etiquette. I would have given my right arm for such opportunities for at my grandson’s age!”

Thank you to PDWA

Those who bagged birds on the day took them home with them to cook, and the wings from all birds shot were removed to provide data for the BASC wing survey.

Ernest Hall, whose son Cooper attended the event, said: “Cooper thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with like-minded children who share an enthusiasm for hunting and wildlife. He came away from the day much more confident and able to discuss the sport he enjoys so much with others who know so much about it.”

Chris Wright, BASC wildfowling and wetlands advisor, thanked everyone at PDWA for their tireless effort in putting on the introduction to wildfowling event. He said: “The dedication of PDWA member made the event an outstanding, action-packed day and, in turn, a resounding success… especially for the young shots. Hopefully, it will be a memory they cherish forever.”


Images by Mark Beedie Field Sports Images