After an intervention that certainly did his sport no harm, we catch up with Iain Parker, the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association CEO and ask him about the present, and future, of the sport.
Last month, the CEO of the CPSA, Iain Parker, published a letter he had written to the government, outlining why he felt that Clay Pigeon Shooting was an ideal sport to be allowed to be one of the first to be brought back after lockdown. It was successful, to the extent that many grounds are now open, and operating practice rounds.
Iain’s forthright approach no doubt helped our industry, so we thought it timely to find out a bit more about the man who, since 2018, has been the public face of Clay Pigeon Shooting in the UK.
Much is made of Iain’s background, especially his experience in marketing, so we kicked off by asking him about his CV. “I’ve worked in sports and brand marketing for over 30 year,” Iain told us. “Originally in golf, then as part of a brand called Animal in the action sports market, and then running a fly fishing company in Massachusetts, USA.
“Before coming to the CPSA I was a partner at a brand marketing company based in London dealing with the likes of Ford, BMW, Pepsi, and Nutella. I actually heard about the CPSA job while shooting at Bisley and was interested because it was something quite different from my past roles in business.”
So presumably Iain likes to shoot? “Like many I started with an air rifle in the garden and then my uncle took me rough shooting around his farm. I’m probably a better rifle shot than I am with a shotgun, but I still enjoy rough shooting on the farm and a game day.
“I’d started this year with the goal to focus on my clay shooting, take some structured lessons, shoot every week and start doing more CPSA registered shoots.”
What kind of gun does Iain own? “Shotgun wise I’ve just got a brand-new custom Rizzini 460 EL which is stunning. I went over to the factory in Italy, had the tour (which was fantastic), spent hours choosing the wood from a huge selection, and then was fitted for the stock at Essevierre.
“I’ve also got a late 70s Browning custom B2G which I’ve used for years now and is a lovely game gun. I also just found a mint Beretta 682 X Trap which I picked up to shoot DTL with.”
So having decided that the job with the CPSA was something he wanted to pursue, what were Ian’s next steps? “The CEO at the CPSA is an employed role reporting to the Board of Directors who are elected by the membership,” he explains.
“There was an interview process held by a panel of Board Directors and after several rounds of interviews I was lucky enough to be offered the job.”
“That was two years ago in August. If you’d asked me 12 weeks ago I’d have said my best achievement to date was the 2020 season ahead of us. We had worked for the last 12 months on what was going to be one of the busiest competition and event years ever.
“With two World Championships and exciting new sponsorship partners, from both inside and outside the sport, it was all set to be a fantastic year for our sport and the CPSA. Then, of course, sadly Covid-19 and lockdown was upon us.”
“Right now however I’d have to say that working through the Covid-19 crisis and the challenges that it has brought for all of us is my greatest achievement.
“Working with government, police and fellow associations to defend and promote our sport in what are truly unprecedented times, to a place now where we can see grounds re-opening and shooters being able to enjoy their sport again.”
Coronavirus has upended a lot of established ‘norms’. What does Iain think the biggest impact will be on clay shooting? ”This virus has unexpectedly affected so many parts of our lives. The terrible loss of life has affected so many of our friends and family, myself included.
“The biggest impact is going to be financial, including those who have lost their jobs, grounds having to close, and loss of revenue income and the loss of trade.
“Clay shooting will return—albeit slowly—as grounds begin to open for practice. We are also planning ahead to the day we can resume competitive shooting.”
So what does Iain think the new normal for Clay Shooting will look like? “In the short term it will be social distancing, practice only, and a lack of the social side of shooting in the clubhouse and around the ground.
“But I look forward to when we can meet up for a coffee and a bacon sandwich before a round of 100 sporting or a frustrating round of DTL chasing that elusive 100/300 or in my case just a 25/75!”
Conversation turned to the challenges and opportunities that face the sport beyond Covid: “There is so much to look forward to as we come out of lockdown” says Iain. “We still have some competitions in the calendar for 2020 and dependent on additional easing of current government restrictions we hope to hold the CPSA British Open English Sporting at Garlands in September.
“We are also continuing to work on a real time “SHOOT” scoring system for our competitions and grounds to use. This will allow for live feeds of scores at CPSA Registered shoots and Championships on our website and new CPSA app.
“Beyond competitions, getting our CPSA coaching program back up and running is a priority. In addition, working closer with our fellow shooting associations, addressing environmental issues our sport faces, and raising the brand profile of clay shooting are all key focuses for me.”
Lastly we asked Iain if he could tell us a story that might bring a smile to our faces in these testing times. He could…
“The CPSA run a ‘Have-a-go’ clayline at The Game Fair every year. Last year I was trying to secure a new sponsor for our World Championship at E.J. Churchill Shooting Ground. This was a big global media company and the Head of Marketing had agreed to come to the fair and see ‘The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association on the ground and in action’ as he put it. He had never held a shotgun before, let alone shot a clay.
“We run the line with a team of our CPSA coaches so he was in good hands, loved every minute and ended up hitting most of the clays. He turned to me after dusting the last clay and with a big smile said ‘this is great, but when do we shoot the pigeons?’”
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This interview originally appeared on our sister publication Gun Trade News