Here at Pass it on Young Sports it is our ethos to quite literally pass our love of field sports on to the next generation, easy to sum up but not so easy to put into practice, the obstacles, the administration, the organisation, equipment, volunteers with skills, etc., etc., I could go on at some length!
To describe it as an uphill journey is to understate the drive and passion it takes to make our taster days happen, let alone become the popular success they have become with last Sunday’s event (11th June 2017) being one of the busiest and best yet.
Attendance was in the hundreds on this lovely sunny Sunday (if a little blowy!) and the families who spared the time to take an interest in country sports were rewarded with an array of activities to try, air rifles, trout and course fishing, archery, bush craft and wild cooking, ferrets, gun dogs as well as the animals at our regular host site, Jacklands Fishing Lakes in Nailsea.
Feedback through our Facebook groups has been fantastic, parents are still amazed sometimes that their youngsters can be interested in new exciting pastimes in the great outdoors,
but for me there is more to it than just the smiles on the kids’ faces as they hook a fish for the first time or knock down the ducks on the air rifle range, we’re passing on an understanding of country ways and showing them a real food story, food doesn’t just come in cellophane, it can be caught, killed and cooked on the spot (well the camp fire!) in a matter of minutes,
even the fussiest of eaters can’t deny how delicious a fresh trout is, cooked over an open fire, moist and flaky, falling from the bone with a lightly smoked flavour, and very few of the youngsters shy away from the understanding that the fish they caught became food.
There is also a responsibility to giving a child in interest in shooting of any type, but particularly with air rifles due to their accessibility and ease of use, we have long taken the serious nature of gun training and youngsters to heart and our instructors are very firm on the safe use of air weapons, we have to get across an important message in a short time to a very young audience but I am always impressed with how the young sports respond to the training and respect what they are told and adapt their behaviour very quickly.
It is extremely warming to understand that these youngsters, who we often hear such terrible things of, are capable of responsibility and discipline when it matters. Quality training at an early age is, in this writer’s opinion, the very best way to improve gun safety in society while offering participants the opportunity to partake in a sport which is great fun and can last a lifetime.
For some time now we at Pass It On have felt that we needed to take things further, move the interest on, reel the youngsters and parents in (if you will forgive the fishing analogy) get them hooked (….again!), so we have worked long and hard to open an air rifle and air pistol shooting range to give access to shooting for all ages.
We had our second evening on Tuesday (13th June) at the Ring ‘O Bells in Nailsea, where I was thrilled to see some of the same faces from the Taster Day the previous Sunday amongst the crowds, I love it when a plan comes together!
The buzz was amazing, with shooters of all ages mingling and supporting each other, Grandads teaching their grandchildren, Dads and daughters or sons, coaches and kids all enjoying the sport I love, with a shared enthusiasm and friendly competition.
The recurring story of the evening was that the adults had a long since abandoned air rifle in a cupboard that they had dug out to bring for the evenings shooting, now pressed back into service to share the sport with the younger family members, the oldest was a springer from the 1930’s right up to the latest electronic bullpup rifle. It’s great to see forgotten pleasures rekindled and shared.
It was more than simply shooting, it was clear a new bond was being formed between the youngsters and adults which is lacking from so many areas of life, thoroughly rewarding for all the volunteers who make this possible, without whom we could not put on these events, they bring skills, knowledge, equipment and endless patience, giving their time (and often at some cost) to Pass It On! Together they really do inspire!