Fitasc world champion Sam Green and former Clay Shooting Classic winner discusses his career, and the importance of supporting young shots, with Jasper Fellows
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In life there are a lucky few who discover their true passion at an early age, an age from which they are able to develop and nurture their skills and achieve more than most could ever dream of. World Fitasc Sporting Champion Sam Green is one of those lucky few.
Raised in a gamekeeper’s lodge, Sam was surrounded by shooting sports from an early age. As he explains, “My father, Stan, has always been a game keeper. From a very young age I became his under keeper, rearing pheasants, filling hoppers, and training my aim with either a small catapult or toy gun that was always close by.”
As you might imagine, Sam was keen to move away from the catapults and toy guns onto the real thing. “As soon as I was allowed a real gun, my parents’ life changed forever. I was instantly obsessed – every opportunity I had to shoot, I took.
“As soon as I was home from school each evening I would be out on the estate looking for my father. My mum, Jane, would worry about the effects on my school work, but all I was worried about was getting back out there and shooting.”
As the years rolled by, Sam spent his youth worrying the local pigeons with his shooting skills – until one day the pigeons of Norfolk breathed a sigh of relief as he was introduced to clay shooting by a friend. Soon enough he was on the competition circuit, breaking clays and taking names.
“I realised I could perform at the top levels of the sport when I started to win those Junior comps,” says Sam. And win he did – scooping up trophies left and right, for himself, his county and eventually his country too.
Before long, Sam was starting to be recognised as one of the top up-and-coming young shots in the country. By the time he had finished his Junior career, he had been crowned European Fitasc Sporting Junior Champion, Junior British and English Sporting Open Champion and two-time Junior World English Sporting Champion.
His adult career has continued in much the same way, claiming awards, accolades and medals the world over to fill his burgeoning trophy cabinet. But despite his previous years of success, Sam will tell you that 2019 has been one of the most important years of his shooting life – and it’s easy to see why.
It started in May at West Midlands Shooting Ground and the English Open Sporting Championships. Scoring 113 ex-120 in the main event left him tied with Mark Winser for the top spot.
This lead to a Super Final of epic proportions as Sam, Mark, Richard Bunning, Richard Faulds, Ben Husthwaite and Chris Childerhouse battled it out over a tough 30-target course. Once all was said and done, Mark Winser came out on top with 25 ex-30, Richard Bunning second with 20 and Sam took the third spot on the podium with 18.
“Both Richard Bunning and Mark Winser are great shots and fantastic sportsmen,” explains Sam. “Knowing you are up against such a great standard can be quite nerve-racking, but this was the year I really started to believe, and it paid off.”
The main event for Sam was still to come however. In July, EJ Churchill held the World Fitasc Sporting Championships. Shooters from across the globe shot it out over eight layouts on the beautiful West Wycombe Estate. It’s hard to understate the abilities of those who compete at World Championship events as the best shots on the planet gather to shoot it out.
“I get nervous at times,” explains Sam, “but I am lucky to have a great support network of friends, family and sponsors who help before, during and after the competitions. I find the most important thing is to never give up.” It was this positive mental attitude that saw Sam sail through the competition to end at the top of the leaderboard with 189 ex-200.
“It was a dream come true,” says Sam of the win. “It wasn’t until George Digweed, my shooting hero, gave me the news that I really realised I had won.”
As if being crowned FITASC World Sporting Champion wasn’t enough, Sam continued to dominate at the British Sportrap Open in August where he managed a 95 ex-100 to push his hero, George, into third and take High Gun.
When you list all of Sam’s achievements, it is easy to think that he must have it easy. He must have enough sponsors that he can live a life of near-leisure, spending his days practising and being supplied with everything he could need to succeed free of charge. That is not the case.
“There have been times where I haven’t been able to afford selection shoot entry fees and travel,” laments Sam. “I have never had a professional coach either. I am fortunate enough to have had some great mentors and support from an early age.
“Landmark Scaffolding in Suffolk have been a great help, as have Browning who supply me with my Ultra XS Prestige. Shooting as a career can be a tough gig from a financial point of view, so I still work a full time job, looking after an estate on an army training ground in Norfolk. I’m able to supplement my income with coaching and loading.”
As you might imagine, being crowned World Champion helps bring in the customers for any coach. “This summer has seen my coaching really take off,” says Sam.
“I coach all levels. English Sporting, FITASC, game and loading. If you’re a beginner, I will help you get the basics. If you’re more experienced, I will help you climb the scoreboards, or I can help you beat that nemesis target.”
Having seen so many of the world’s best shooters take the peg and break targets in their own ways, Sam understands the need for an individual approach to coaching.
“It’s important for me to understand how each person shoots,” he explains. “Every shooter has their own style. It’s important to respect each person as an individual and create bespoke coaching styles to help them improve.”
Sam’s childhood obsession with shooting has given him a sympathetic insight into the world of a young shot trying to make it in the sport.
“Young shots support is very close to my heart. I know how passionate I was when I was young, and about the lack of support.
“I have recently been running a number of competitions for young shots. Each has run slightly differently, but the three top shots win a morning of coaching with me, alongside a host of other prizes that have included cartridges, gun slips, a bit of money, and even an afternoon of 100 clays hosted by Barrow Shooting Ground, which has kindly sponsored the events.
“I know that if I could have won a free lesson with a World Champion, especially George Digweed, as a young shot I would have signed up 100 times a day!” Sam continues, “I am passionate about our sport and its continuation in the future.”
As for Sam’s future, it would seem the best is yet to come. “I’m looking forward to returning to EJ Churchill for the 2020 English World Sporting Championships, the British and English Open too, and the Classics. I am hoping to get to more of the World competitions next year,” says Sam.
“I’m also looking to move into full time shooting – coaching, competing, loading and so on. I want to see our sport grow, and I would love to hear from anyone who is passionate about shooting and looking to improve their performance.”
For world class coaching or to discover more about Sam’s young shots competitions visit him on Facebook or Instagram @samgreenshooting, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him for a chat on 07766 470589.