Young Sports & The Countryman
By The Ole Hedge Creeper (Rob Collins)
Well here we are with Christmas come and gone and all those preparations a distant memory now as we start 2020, but for me its the start of the new show season and inspiring the many families all about Shooting/Country Sports internationally, I always said I would not let this encroach on my own Country Sports season, but as always it does both at the start and the end of my season, actually its a twelve month of the year seven days of the week job now, I have always had a passion for Shooting/Country Sports since I could walk, spending my first day out traditional ferreting at the age of two years old well nearly three with my family, those of you that have read my first book will know only too well of this first day in the field and how from that first morning and that first rabbit a passion for Country/Shooting Sports & Conservation filled my veins and was tattooed on my soul.
The years flew by and the passion never left me it grew stronger, it gave me a hunger to learn more, but always with what my family of Old School Countrymen taught me right from day one, everything we do in mother nature and Shooting/Country Sports but be from the core that Conservation is the very foundation of all we do, all life is sacred so if we are going to take a life it has to be for a very good reason, Also what was taught to me from day one was the importance of safe proper firearms handling and marksmanship properties, I will get to this further on in this article, as time went on from my school years being dyslexic and in a village school I found myself all out of sorts, but my family especially my father and grand father taught me to read and write using the then Shooting and weekly news now known as The Countryman’s Diary and The Shooting Times, each week I would not only have to learn to read the article aloud but also copy them with pen and paper thus my grand father spent countless hours teaching me how to read and write where the school failed, he knew I had a passion for Shooting/Country Sports and used the correct carrot in front of the donkey to teach me, how can you repay someone who teaches you to read and write when the school had given up on me, in my book you cant, as the years progressed I saw my fellow school chums struggling in other parts of their lives and getting into trouble with the police and worse, so I taught them about Shooting/Country Sports, this was when a seed was planted in my soul once again, the seed for coaching and teaching as my Pappy (grandfather) had passed on to me.
qualified game keeper/land and habitat manager and deer manager, I also
went on some years later and took a Bachelors degree in coaching
specializing fishing and shooting, but my love for traditional ferreting has
lasted the test of time 45 years on, I now cover all forms of field sports from
ratting with terriers right up to stalking the mighty Stag, it matters not weather
on a formal game shoot or stalking the humble rabbit I love all Shooting & Country Sports with a passion, my Grandfather a real Countryman of the old school had instilled this in me from a young age, also the passion for conservation, for he always said conservation should be at the core of all Shooting/Country Sports, you just cant have one without the other, he also taught me the value of all life, so that he made sure I knew when I took the decision to take a life it has to be for a very good
reason, by this he meant for crop/livestock or in many cases wildlife
protection, he taught me that every living thing from the crawling insects to
the trees flowers fauna and all birds and animals have a right to live under
I have tuned this into my cogs in the machine talk when I lecture at colleges/schools etc now, I start off with explaining to my students that the Countryside is a well oiled machine and its our job as Countryside Engineers to keep the machine well greased and serviced but also in good running order, each of those cogs God intended to be a certain size, some big, some medium sized & some small, when a wrong cog comes in like say the Grey Squirrel or American Mink its my job to take that cog out of the machine thus keeping it well maintained and in good running order.
As the years have gone on my Passion for Coaching and Teaching has grown, I started off Pass It On Young Sports back in 2010 so by the time we get to The British Shooting Show at the NEC in 2020 it will be the 10 year anniversary of the organisation where we are holding a huge get together all weekend, with prizes giveaways and so much more from us and our sponsors and The Show itself, when I started Pass It On Young Sports off it was with one single thought process in mind, to inspire the kids of today and tomorrow and indeed their parents all about the wonderful world of Country/Shooting Sports, where their food comes from ethical Farming, a passion for fishing and looking after our ponds, lakes, rivers and sea, never waste anything if you cull it you use it, create habitat for the greater and when you leave you leave nothing but foot prints, Conservation is at the core of all I do and passing on that passion for mother nature and beyond through Shooting & Country Sports.
The Shooting Shows/Game Fairs/regional Country Fairs are vitally important important for helping teach this, families taking their kids to these shows get to meet some of the very best Countrymen & Women in the world as I did as a boy, I met the writers of the magazines they fuelled my passion for all of this as they too were and still are the people us wide eyed country/city kids look up too, we read their articles, when I say we I some times forget I am an adult as I stand there like a wide eyed kid again, I look up to my fellow inspirational writers and Field Sports Channel/Shooting Show celebrities etc, they are all great ambassadors for the very ethos I stand for, each of them giving the young sports time advice, passing on knowledge and more, also at these shows the kids and families get to have a go with some of the most modern top of the range guns in the world, yes I said guns for they are a tool for a job, no more no less a tool, when a person is taught correctly how to use said tool, they will NOT miss use it.
Many guns are works of art and also feats of engineering, all can be sweet on the eye as they are to hold and use, but none the less they are a tool no different to a hammer a trowel or a screw driver, you must be taught correctly how to use them, in a recent BBC interview the question was put to me that guns are dangerous and kids should not be near them, yes they are in the untrained hands but no more dangerous than the simple table knife and fork that we all use daily was my answer, this threw the interviewer right off his train of questioning, I asked him a question who taught you table manners and how to use a knife and fork? He related to me it was his mother and told me a funny story how he had stabbed his brother in the leg as a very young boy for stealing one of his chips, he was told off quite sternly by his mother who spent a lot of time with his teaching him table manners and how to eat properly and use a knife and fork, I smiled and said now you see my point going back to your earlier question
Education and Training is the key, his whole attitude changed and wanted to have a go with the air Arms Air Rifles, I sat him down next to an 8 year old girls who was on her second time on my Pass It On Young Sports Air Rifle Range, she was quietly and calmly plinking a Jack Pyke Target down range, much to her mothers surprise as she said she has ADHD and struggles to to concentrate and sit still, funny in all my years coaching and teaching firearms training the kids with learning problems/disabilities or indeed ADHD and more, always calm right down when shooting, I have literally hundreds of stories letters from parents thanking me for giving their child a new lease of life, one from a parent who’s son was going to need an eye operation for a genetic eye problem he had, I worked with him extensively many hours on the range coaching his shooting, the eye specialist at his last pre op appointment said he no longer needs an operation, his exact words were all the shooting using a rifle scope has strengthened the eye muscles better than he could with an operation, I say you cant get much better than that, like I say I have many positive stories and recollections of the good Shooting/Country Sports has over the years and not one negative one, anytime there is a negative thing to happen it is always with illegal and untrained people nothing to do with the legal/ethical and safe use of firearms.
Going back to the interviewer sat next to the young girl, I gave him a full lesson on safe proper firearms handling, even though it was a sub 12ft lb air rifle I said it matters not weather this little Air Arms Air Rifle or a Barrett 50cal so longs as you stick to to what I teach you with safety being a paramount weather on a range or out hunting nothing can or will go wrong, he said this shooting is not as easy as it looks I thought we have a telescopic sight it was just point and shoot, I laughed as the young girl gave a giggle next to me as her mum said you know what thought did, didn’t you, the young girl said if you listen to Rob you might actually hit the target so shoot from a calm pond, I smiled almost with a tear in my eye as that was the first lesson I teach, shooting from a calm pond makes you a safer more accurate shooter, we got the targets back, my young girl shot a brilliant grouping the size of a five pence coin the interviewer well it looked more like a shot gun was used, just to prove it was not luck the young girl and the interviewer swapped guns and tried again, he really concentrated this time, although his grouping was much better my young girl put five pellets in a tiny clover leaf, he left with a much better understanding of safe proper firearms handling and marksmanship properties, my young girl with ADHD left calmly and went outside and let off some steam on the play area.
Families and their children at the British Shooting Show 2020 will be treated to simply amazing show that covers far more than just guns, they will also get the chance to meet some of the best in the business, be inspired by all they meet and made to feel most welcome, go over to the air rifle ranges have a go get some formal training and learn what we in the industry know already, safe proper firearms training is not only a pleasure to learn but vital for the kids of today and tomorrow, for education is the key not only will they never get in trouble with guns or do something silly, it will open a door for knowledge and possibly a career, where being the best you can be a passion for Shooting and Country Sports where conservation is at the core of all you believe, come find me on The Pass It On Young Sports Stand where I will be more than happy to talk with you and do my best to inspire you, as we say at Pass It On Young Sports, TOGETHER WE CAN INSPIRE.
By Rob Collins aka The Ole Hedge Creeper head honcho & pointy hat wearer
at Pass It On Young Sports, TOGETHER WE CAN INSPIRE
For tickets for the show click on The British Shooting Show picture link below.