A-Level Shooting

Shooting is in my family, and my mum and dad are my greatest supporters.

Shooting is in my family, and my mum and dad are my greatest supporters. - Credit: Archant

Hagen Moss is studying hard – at 10-metre target shooting

My main study centre!

My main study centre! - Credit: Archant

Around this time last year, I started making decisions about my A-Level options for sixth form. Being a keen athlete I decided to choose P.E. as one of my subjects, and I knew that I’d need to be assessed in two practical sports out of 30. I chose athletics as my first sport but was unsure about my second, so I looked at other sports on offer but found that my standard would not be high enough to achieve a good mark. Then an idea hit me and I asked my teacher if the exam board accepted shooting on the syllabus, and if so, what disciplines they allowed. How cool would it be if I could do shooting as an A-Level subject!

My A-Level result depends on this sort of accuracy.

My A-Level result depends on this sort of accuracy. - Credit: Archant

David Owen is my chief lecturer, and his subject is about as good as it gets for me.

David Owen is my chief lecturer, and his subject is about as good as it gets for me. - Credit: Archant

Tradition and values

I don't have to be nagged to put in the study time.

I don't have to be nagged to put in the study time. - Credit: Archant

There are many reasons I wanted to opt for shooting but the main one is simply that I come from a shooting background. This has given me a great passion for shooting and I admire the tradition behind the shooting sports. My mother, along with her brothers and sisters, was taught to shoot at the age of seven by their late father; gunsmith and county champion clay shooter.

Keeping this family tradition going, the importance of gun safety has now been passed on to me by my mother when I started using air rifles at the age of seven. My father taught me techniques on how to use the environment when shooting, from a hunting perspective, with both rifles and shotguns. I regularly go out shooting with him and having these skills allows me to adapt quickly to different surroundings, making me a better shooter.

By choosing shooting for A-Level, not only would I really enjoy my ‘course work’, but also I felt it would open a door for other people of my age group to take up these types of sports as A-Level options. This all helps to promote shooting sports and highlights shooting in a positive way for younger people. Besides, as I said, it would be such a great thing to do as part of an exam course and I was really buzzing at the prospect of shooting for good results.

Board of the rings

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My teacher then asked the exam board if I could be assessed in a shooting discipline, and they replied a few days later saying that I could do clay shooting, but gave no option for any other disciplines. Hmmm. I needed to have a think about this. Because I’ve had much more experience with rifles, I looked at the different types of rifle disciplines that are acclaimed worldwide and the main one that stood out for me was the 10-metre target shooting. I really liked the look of this type of shooting, mainly due to its challenging technique and the high skill and concentration levels needed for the event.

After presenting the sport to my teacher and explaining what I thought I would need, she got in touch with the exam board again and within days I was called to her office where I saw a very pleased Mrs Jones waving a mark scheme from the exam board for 10m air rifle. Fantastic! I then sat down with her while she outlined what I would need to do for each year of my A-Level course, and once I was happy – and you’d better believe I was happy - I entered 10-metre target shooting as my second sport. Yesss!

Educational Psychology in Practice

My first task was to sit down in front of a camera and talk about the sport, techniques and action plans. This task, called an EPIP, is designed to test the mental ability of the performer by organising practice methods. For my second task, I was to be videoed doing the activity so I could be given a suitable grade for the sport, based upon technique and skill levels. I now needed to find a suitable club in the local area where I could carry out the sport. While all this was going on I needed to sort out my hardware and other equipment and after another in-depth thinking session I came up with a master plan. As far as I knew, 10-metre air rifle target shooting is unheard of in A-Level, and, on the basis of ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’, I saw this as a genuine opportunity to approach various air rifle manufacturers to see if I could acquire some kind of sponsorship. This was actually a major learning experience in itself, and I know it will be extremely useful in the future.

Club class

Meanwhile, my father and I browsed the internet for local shooting clubs and came across the Cumberland News Rifle Club in Carlisle, which offered a variety of shooting disciplines including 10m air rifle. This seemed to be the club we were looking for, so I dropped them an email expressing our interest in going along to the club to have a look at the facilities they had to offer. We promptly received an email back inviting us to an introduction and induction night.

On our arrival, we were met by range officer and club instructor, David Owen, who shoots 10m air pistol for Scotland. During the course of the evening, David went through things such as club rules and gave us a few shooting exercises which would give him an idea of my abilities. As well as this, he showed me the correct techniques for 10m target shooting, including the correct use of sights, and body posture. My father and I were invited back the following week and, yet again, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, so I joined as a probationary member. My A-Level course was really falling into place now, and there was more good news around the corner.

Air Armed

The club has a number of air rifles which can be used by members while they decide if the sport is for them, allowing time for new members to purchase their own rifle. I used an Air Arms MPR and got on really well with it, so I decided to contact Air Arms to see if the company could help start up some kind of sponsorship scheme to help me with my A-Levels. It was just by chance during this year’s British Shooting Show, that my father was introduced to Air Arms managing director, Claire West. My father and Claire discussed the possibilities of a sponsorship deal and Claire was really interested by this unique opportunity and what it might bring to the company, and agreed to sponsor me for the duration of the A-Level course. Within a week, an Air Arms MPR Sport, as well as Air Arms clothing and equipment, had been delivered to my local registered firearms dealer. What an amazing result! I’m so grateful to Air Arms for investing in me, and potentially in the future of young shooters.

Good attendance

I now regularly attend the Cumberland News Rifle Club one or two nights per week, where I am constantly being given valuable tuition and guidance from David, and other members of the club are always on hand to assist me at any time if need be. After the first couple of weeks, David got me to shoot a few targets to let him work out an average score so he could enter me into a suitable division for the upcoming summer league postal target competition. Wow, the pressure will be ramped up when I’m shooting my competition targets, and because shooting well under pressure is a huge part of any competition discipline, this will be another valuable learning opportunity for me.

Dad versus son

My father takes me along to the rifle club each week and lends his full support in every way. I think he’s almost as happy as I am about the way things are turning out, and I know there are similar opportunities out there for other young shooters. Initially, Dad didn’t join the club himself, but members questioned this decision and after a bit of thought about what they had said, he has since become a probationary member just like me, and is also enjoying the new discipline. He finds it so different to how he normally shoots out in the open environment, but he’s enjoying that difference and he’s been shooting long enough to know that all shooting sports can offer something to each other. Knocking over rabbits in a field will always benefit from a bit of improved trigger technique, stance training, breathing control and correct follow-through, and all of this and so much more is taught in 10-metre target shooting. Plus, all shooting is enjoyable in its own way, as Dad and I are finding out for ourselves right now.

Having my father joining the club not only adds to the enjoyment for us both, but of course, adds a ‘father V son’ competitiveness that can only improve the standards of our shooting as we strive to be the best. We really look forward to our club nights, and I can guarantee that no A-Level student relishes his course work more than I do. It must be great for my parents, too, because they never have to nag me to do my homework!

On the level

Taking air rifle shooting as an A-Level subject has been a great move for me, and I’m convinced that it could become a far more regular choice for others, if they ask for it. The more of us who take up shooting as an A-Level option, the more established it will become, so please, if you’d like to benefit from one of the most enjoyable A-Level subjects imaginable – I say opt for airgunning!