A cold morning in the countryside; a shaded field with trees overlook the shooters gathered around a stand. The rustling of great oaks could be heard standing patiently, watching, with the grass swaying and cheering along. The sun was low and greeted my raw hands, intently grasping onto my handle and barrel, interrupting me in my concentration and focus. The fresh dew could still be smelt as I stood, scanning for my target. A sweep of a trap next to me swoops a clay into my sight. My thawed fingers, inch onto the trigger and my hands instinctively follow the clay. Abruptly, I’m blown back and the clay shatters into thousands of pieces as the gun smoke clears. True happiness erupted for me on that very morning and stayed with me the whole day, wearing my pride across my face.
This experience of me shooting two years ago is a fond memory of mine. Shooting for me has profoundly changed the way I think about conservation. It has allowed me to develop a deep respect for animals and the environment. A part of me would always re-iterate to myself, day to day, to be mindful about my surroundings and my effects on what I do towards conservation. I now appreciate conservation and the work that is done within BASC and other environmental charities, which I discovered through shooting. Shooting is truly one of those sports I (and I’m sure many others) obsess over. The opportunities, the people and the configuration of shooting really allows you to firmly grasp the sport and connect with it. So, why doesn’t everyone try shooting?
I do firmly believe that these opportunities that have been presented to me should be available for everybody. Shooting has really changed my perspective and I think many others would benefit from being aware of the environment. However, I think that it’s a shame that shooting is sometimes portrayed in a negative light by many that are not even willing to give it a go. Even when it comes up in conversation, I feel that shooting is quickly pushed aside without being given an opportunity to display all the contributions it has made for animals and conservation alike.
I think running fairs, open days and providing buckets of opportunities for both adults and youth to be involved is crucial. This vital publicity, like the Taste of Game, or even small, open gatherings allowing people to try shooting, are the best ways to show others the true joys of what it feels like to be a shooter and a part of this community.
So, if you have been tempted to simply invite someone to shoot, do so. The more people we can introduce to our community, the better for conservation and for the enjoyment of the sport as a whole. The experiences, the connections and the memories formed will be enduring for a lifetime.