Shooters to watch

James Marchington talks to two young shots who have proved they’ve got what it takes to succeed

Ben Killian

Ben started shooting with father Wayne at the age of eight, and progressed from a bolt-action .410 to a 20-bore semi-auto. He won Junior Men’s gold at the British Shooting Shotgun Series in August 2019, and has achieved success in international Helice competitions – Junior gold in the Italian Grand Prix in 2018, and Junior team silver at the 2019 World Championships in Rome. Ultimately, he wants to represent Great Britain at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

“I enjoy the challenge of hitting every target and improving each time I compete. I like the way I can be shooting next to an Olympic gold medallist one day and a World Champion the next. There is a community spirit in the sport – everyone is so approachable and I get support and advice from the best in the world. 

The turning point for me was in 2016, when I won the British Schools national Colt title. It was the first time I had experienced the thrill of competing. In 2017, I went for a talent identification day with British Shooting and joined the Talent Pathway.

This has really impacted on my progression over the last 2 years, with my coaches Chris Dean and John Bellamy helping me to develop my technical skills. 

I shoot with a Perazzi MX8 Trap gun with fixed chokes at three-quarters and full. I’m sponsored by Kevin Gill and Mike Mansfield at Mirage UK/Anglo Italian Arms and use their fantastic Clever Pro Extra Evolution 24g 7½ shot cartridges.

They have a superb pattern and are great for Olympic Trap. For Helice, I use Clever Rekords 28g 7¼ shot, which are formulated for it.

I am privileged to be sponsored by Vario Hearables, and Ed Lyons Sports Vision sponsors me with my Pilla Panther X6 Shooting glasses. I have noticed a huge difference in my shooting scores since!

Warwickshire-based TFJ Private GP Service have supported my shooting and I’m grateful for their encouragement.

My ultimate ambition is to represent Great Britain at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. At the moment I’m working hard to improve my skills and mental approach to my shooting.

I want to continue with my Olympic Trap development, and my next goal is to achieve selection to represent Great Britain in the World Cup or European Championships in 2020. It’s going to be a busy year all around, as I’ve also got my GCSEs to take!”

Chloe Applin

Chloe, now 17, lives near Bristol. She shot to fame in young shots Sporting competition when she won the 2018 TSC Series at the Oxford Gun Company – collecting the fantastic prize of an MG car from sponsors Lodge Hill Garage. Although she can’t win the top prize again, she returned to compete in the series this year, collecting several prizes along the way.

“I’ve been shooting since I was 11. I got into it through my dad, who shoots game, then started taking lessons with John Pool, who is a champion Fitasc coach. We knew him well and he lives nearby.

The first time I shot clays, I really enjoyed it. That was at Braces of Bristol Shooting Ground. I kept going and got better and better. John, my coach, started taking me to competitions, to get me used to the competitive atmosphere. We went to local CPSA registered shoots and then moved on to some of the bigger ones, gradually moving up to the championships and selection shoots.

I feel that winning the car in the TSC Series was my biggest achievement so far, and it was certainly the biggest prize! It’s something you really have to work for, attending all the shoots in the series to qualify for the Grand Final and shoot-off.

Following that, I’d say this year, 2019, has been my busiest year, with the most competitions. I did the England and GB selection shoots for both Fitasc and English Sporting. Included in that was the big club championships, grand prix, UK championships and British Opens.

It was my first year of entering those competitions and really I was just getting used to it. It’s been challenging, but I’ve really enjoyed it and I had some success – I came third in my category in the British Open Sporting.

Now we’re into the winter, and it’s a quieter time of year. I did the county shoots with the Somerset team. In fact we did quite well in the South West Inter-Counties. Our juniors team won the Fitasc, and the ladies won the Sporting and the Sportrap.

What is it that appeals to me about shooting? I think it’s something you can always go out and do better. There’s always something there to challenge you and push you. That’s what really keeps me going, I always want to challenge and push myself as much as I can, and in shooting you can always do that.

I shoot a Miroku MK38, which I’ve found to be a good, solid, reliable gun. I’m grateful to my sponsors, including Fiocchi who helped me out a lot this year – and I really like their cartridges.

Teague sponsor me, and I’m using their titanium chokes which are very good. Penny Plant Hire & Demolition, a local company to me, helped me with entry fees, cartridges and the like.

Looking ahead, my goals would be to get into the England or GB team for Sporting or Fitasc. Plus next year I want to try and take up an Olympic discipline, probably Olympic Trap, and see how that goes.”

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