Please note that you cannot purchase or hire a shotgun if you’re under 18 years of age. You cannot have with you an assembled, functioning shotgun either, unless you’re under supervision of a person who is 21 or more (this applies to shotguns secured in gun slips too). Read more about the law and rules in the Shotgun Safety Code of Practice.
BASC Young Shot Oliver Simons has an impressive knowledge and experience of shooting at just 12 years old. He writes about how his passion for the sport grew and developed, often by pure chance and taking up new opportunities.
It starts with airguns
My dad surprised me with my first air rifle, a Brocock Contour single-shot .177, when I was just seven years old. Before I started using it, I had lessons at Ian Coley’s range to learn about handling and using a gun safely. It’s important that anyone new to shooting learns the rules and familiarises themselves with the relevant codes of good practice.
I really enjoyed the concept of target shooting but was keen to do more. I wanted to start shooting live quarry. My dad always told me that you should hunt live prey only if you’re going to eat it. Well, except rats!
Dad first swapped my single-shot Brocock for a six-shot and then for a Brocock Compatto Target .177 with a regulator. It could be used as a single or a ten-shot.
Moving on to shotgun
I started to win in club and open competitions but wanted to try something a bit different. So, at the age of seven and a half, I moved on to shooting shotguns. At first, I used my grandad’s .410 Webley and Scott single-barrel bolt action. Then, to my delight, Father Christmas brought me a 20g Bettinsoli Junior Sport over and under to use. I got my shotgun licence a year later. I could finally join my dad and shoot on farms, estates and clay pigeon grounds.
I started attending Young Shots days and must have done about 15 in total, meeting loads of fellow young shooters in the process. I’ve learnt so much about all shooting disciplines, gundogs and much more. I really recommend BASC Young Shot days to any budding shooter who’s looking to improve their skills and knowledge.
Dreams becoming reality
Then, something absolutely amazing happened! On a Young Shots day last summer, clay coach Terry told me he wanted to see me at the end of the day. He asked me to shoot .410, 28g, 20g and 12g shotguns. Terry made me shoot six or eight clays with each gun. I hit nearly all of them. He then told me and my dad that I needed to be looked at by a talent scout! Terry even arranged a meeting for me with Anita North from British Shooting.
I’ve spent an amazing day with Anita and she watched me shoot at sporting and Olympic skeet targets. I enjoyed the Olympic trap the most though.
Not long after, my dad got an email inviting me to join a pathway in March 2020! I was then asked by Christian Schofield of British Shooting to come on his training days for Olympic skeet and trap, which was awesome. He told me I could shoot either Olympic trap or Olympic skeet, or both if I wanted to on the British Shooting talent pathways. I can’t wait to get started.
One day, I’d love to shoot for Team GB and work in Africa to help guard wild animals against the poachers.