There is no bigger champion of this than professional Sporting shooter, Ben Husthwaite. 2011 has been a bumper year for Ben, with wins at the Clay Shooting Classic and Dutch FITASC championship; however he still makes time to help promote the sport wherever he can.
When Ben was made aware of a club that school teacher and avid shooter Neal Wilcox from Essex was undertaking he couldn’t help but jump at the chance to get involved.
Neal Wilcox, who teaches at the Helena Romanes School in Essex, is opening up clay shooting to his pupils – some of whom have never before had the chance to try our fine sport.
Neal hopes that by getting pupils involved in shooting, they will not only benefit from being outdoors and the buzz from hitting their first clays, but will gain the mental discipline and focus required for the sport. He hopes that this will help the children in their day to day lives, whether that be at school or at home.
Ben and I joined Neal and the pupils at one such shoot and as he set off to the range with his group excitedly following behind, I was able to chat to some of the parents who had turned up to watch. Each one mentioned that they were thrilled their child was able to try a sport that previously hasn’t been open to them. One parent went on the say that their child, who was very shy, found that he was socialising with more of his peer group since taking part in the club. Even in the couple of hours we were shooting, you could see each pupil gaining confidence, not only with Ben but also with the other adults around them.
The day itself was a very relaxed affair and with over 20 children in attendance this was not an easy feat!
After the shooting finished, I sat down with Ben to gain more of an insight into how shooting has helped him and what he feels we should be doing to support the younger generations. He explained: “as somebody who struggled with schooling I was lucky to find sport in two forms, rugby and shooting. Shooting taught me discipline and I soon realised learning could be interesting and fun. It didn’t make me the best student in school, but it certainly made me a better one.
“Through days like today I believe children can raise their confidence and communication skills and become more open to schooling. If I can be part of that, both as an ambassador and by giving my time to projects like this then all the better.”
Not one to leave it as it is, Ben is now keen to work with the pupils further to help them gain more confidence in themselves, their capabilities and to provide coaching on the mental aspect of sports.
The school is now training one day a month at the Fennes Shooting School in Essex and are hoping to arrange friendly competitions with other school teams.
As well as Ben’s personal time, other shooters have donated items such as ear defenders and also money to cover the costs for children who otherwise may not be able to afford to take part in the project.
Everyone involved in this fantastic club cannot be commended enough. Even if only a handful of children take up the clay shooting as a regular hobby, it is exposing the pupils to another sport that offers them the chance to interact with people from all walks of life, and is another step towards breaking down the belief that shooting is only for the wealthy.