Welcome to a new series on shooters who are starting to make their mark. This month, two young shots from Scotland, by Murray Thomson
Rhys picked up his passion for shooting from his father Richard, who is an avid pigeon and game shot. Richard spotted the talent in his son at a young age when Rhys was knocking pigeons out of the air with a .410 with little apparent effort.
Richard began slowly introducing the burgeoning young shot to clays with visits to his local club, Auchterhouse near Dundee, and to events such as the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace, Perth. Rhys was soon pulling in podium finishes that not only a junior shooter would be proud of, but also many of the seniors.
Rhys used his faithful semi-auto for his early Skeet and Sporting competitions, but in the last 12 months he has started shooting a 12-bore Miroku Mk38 Sporter, which he was delighted to receive as part of a sponsorship program offered to him by the Christie family, who run Auchterhouse Country Sports.
Rhys only really started competitive shooting in 2017/18, but his steadily improving scores are already impressive, and he has been exposed to several major circuit stops that many would find intimidating.
In July 2018 he won the Junior category in several shoots, including the Scottish Game Fair, Scottish Schools Championship and the All Round at his home ground.
In 2019 his itinerary has really been burning the tyres off of the family car, and he has placed third in the Colts at the Essex Masters and fourth at the British Schools Championship at Atkin Grant & Lang, before topping off his run of form with a podium finish in Fitasc and Sportrap at the Clay Shooting Classic. Since then he also won overall High Gun at the Highland Shooting Centre at their two-day Fitasc and Sporting event.
Rhys’s father, Richard, is a man of few words, but he comments: “I’m very proud of how Rhys is progressing in the sport, but I’m also grateful for the way in which he has been accepted and encouraged by those already well established on the circuit.
“Our goal for this year is for him to make the national team. There is no doubt that he still has lots to learn, but he is determined to do so. We will do as many of the major competitions as we can this year, and the hope is that the experience of the new grounds and variation of targets will help him to progress.”
Emma Christie of Auchterhouse Country Sports says: “Auchterhouse Country Sports are proud to have sponsored Rhys since summer 2018. He is a credit to his parents, conducts himself well when shooting, and is an up-and-coming talent to watch.
“He is such a likeable lad who greets everyone with a smile. Drew [Christie] has recognised his ability and attitude, and is happy to take him under his wing. If he continues the way he has performed this year, he will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. When you see the name Rhys Harrison, remember he started his career at Auchterhouse. We will all look back with pride.”
Struan, now 25, grew up in the Borders with his parents, Izzy and Jim Brodie, who nurtured his early signs of talent with a gun in his hand. At 11 years old, he started shooting in local and national competitions with a Browning 525, and soon showed strong promise as a serious competitor.
His main love was Sporting targets, and he also competed in ABT, DTL and Double Rise in Northumberland, winning lots of silverware along the way.
Throughout the years he trained at the original Braidwood Sporting Clays near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, owned and operated by Joyce and Jim Black, which subsequently became Bisley at Braidwood when purchased by the Roupell family of Bisley in Surrey.
Struan spent every spare moment he had on mastering his game and technique at his home ground. Having represented Scotland as a Junior, in 2017 he became the Senior Scottish Sportrap champion at Ardlethen Quarry, and in the same year won the Scottish Fitasc Championship at Drummond Estate. He also made the British Fitasc team alongside the likes of Matt Hance, Jonathan Kendall and Mark Stevenson.
Recently, Struan has focused his efforts on European competitions. In the last 12 months he missed out on a bronze medal at the Hungarian GP by just a single target, shot a 192 ex-200 at the European Compak in Greece, and almost pulled a top 20 finish at the European Fitasc, beating many of the best known shooters of today.
Many shooters of Struan’s calibre need time away from shooting for downtime, but Struan is a professional deer stalker for the Forestry Commission, so a gun is never out of his hands for long. In fact, he says that his downtime comes from practising at Bisley at Braidwood with his friends and family.
He is sponsored by the ground, and says that he owes much of his success to the help and support of the director, Ian Braithwaite, and staff, who go the extra mile to support him – for instance, by setting up specific targets that he wants to practise on.
In addition to his sponsorship by Bisley, Struan has joined Team Gamebore – stuffing his beloved Perazzi High Tech with White Gold 8s, a combination that clearly works for him.
Struan comments: “A big event win is an absolute dream for me, but part of my journey is experiencing as much as I can along the way. The European Fitasc was the most incredible shoot I have seen, from the topography of the ground, the outstanding level of competition and also the world class target presentations.
“I learned a lot from it and finished strongly, and I’m looking forward to tackling more of that sort of event in the future.”
Bisley at Braidwood’s Ian Braithwaite says: “We are extremely proud to have Struan as one of our sponsored shots, and are fully behind him in his ambitions for the future. He is an outstanding ambassador for us and the sport as a whole, and we look forward to helping him achieve whatever the future may hold for him.”
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