Team Wild Shooting Academy Introduces the Young Guns

It’s one of the most satisfying and rewarding feelings in the world, one that you can never get enough of and continue to enjoy even once it finishes. Passing on knowledge, wisdom and experience for something I feel very passionate about never grows stale. Team Wild receives several hundred questions each and every week through our website, YouTube channel and Facebook page on a variety of subjects including how to get involved in shooting sports, what equipment to use and hints and tips for shooting success.

So, we’ve teamed up with Air Gunner to bring you the all-new ‘Team Wild Shooting Academy’. Each month we’ll bring you a host of information on a different shooting subject, either to get you up and running in your chosen activity, or to help you reach the very pinnacle and be the very best you can be. To help us along the way, we’ll collaborate with other high profile shooting professionals and enthusiasts so you can share their experiences too. We will also track the progress of others on their journeys to shooting greatness. One such group is the Team Wild Young Guns.

Ethan Fisher, Jordan Mittoo and Haydn Fisher are three enthusiastic and energetic young shots who want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. I’ve offered to mentor them on their journey and pass on a little of what I know. Over the next few months we’ll be looking at choosing equipment that is specially designed for budding young shots, developing skills including marksmanship, fieldcraft and game preparation, before taking those lessons out into the field and putting them to good use in harvesting quarry. Let’s meet the team.

Ethan Fisher

Age: 10

Lives: Derbyshire

Rifle: Crosman Ratcatcher

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Interests: Running, swimming, cycling, football.

Shooting ambition: To become a world-renowned international marksman

Jordan Mittoo

Age: 12

Lives: Warwickshire

Rifle: Crosman Raven

Interests: Playstation 3, conservation, astronomy and history

Shooting ambition: To travel the world hunting big game.

Haydn Fisher

Age: 8

Lives: Derbyshire

Rifle: Crosman Ratcatcher

Interests: Art, basketball, swimming, science

Shooting ambition: To hunt and compete in airgun competitions around the world.

Getting Started

When introducing younger shooters to airgunning, it’s absolutely vital that the equipment is suitable and fits them properly. Airguns that are too heavy, impart too much recoil or are just impossible to shoot, will not endear the next generation to the sport. Now is not the time to dust off Grandad’s old HW35 Export. The Team Wild Young Guns will be starting out with rifles that are ideally suited to younger shots; the Crosman Ratcatcher CO2 rifle in .22 and the Crosman Raven break barrel rifle in .177. They’re compact, lightweight and affordable – and designed to accommodate younger shots.

An important part of my airgunning development came about because I had to use open sights. Not because anyone made me, but that’s all there was on my rifle when I first began shooting. However, it was an invaluable aid in teaching me good technique, breathing and trigger control. Plus it felt great to hit targets consistently, using iron sights and a spring gun. We don’t want to create a situation where our prodigies aren’t hitting the target and losing confidence, though,so a scaled approach is needed.

I’ve decided to use three different rifle combinations; a Ratcatcher with open sights, Ratcatcher with Crosman Targetmaster 4x15 scope and the Raven with a Centrepoint Power Series 3-9 x 36 scope. Then we follow the same basic introduction to each rifle, but with subtle differences when it comes to how to address the targets with the different sighting systems. Now you’ll see from the photos that I’ve used a bench with seating and shooting bags for support to begin with. This means we can teach at a reasonable pace, without giving the guys too much to think about.

Running through the features and functionality of each rifle can be confusing if delivered at the same time as a complex list of safety protocols. Momentary lapses of concentration can be dangerous and need to be avoided. Firstly we run through the importance of safety – two in particular: muzzle awareness and trigger avoidance. The former is obvious to most, but the significance of the latter needs to be appreciated. When being handed a rifle, our first instinct is usually to grasp the pistol grip and our fingers naturally drift toward the trigger. We must drill this out as a matter of urgency.

A Structured Programme

Once we’ve got them set up on the bench, we follow a structured approach to familiarisation, handling and firing of the gun.

• How to hold the rifle – using the bean bags makes this much easier, as the bag can take care of the front end, while we work on getting the butt into the shoulder and the head positioned properly on the comb of the stock behind the sights.

• Familiarisation with the functions of the rifle – sights, safety, trigger, adjustments. Now is the time to get to grips with where stuff is.

• Finding your sight picture – whether with a scope or open sights, targets should first be addressed with empty barrels. This ‘dry run’ approach to shooting allows safety protocols to be ‘drilled in’ without making the rifles dangerous. This is where CO2 rifles come into their own as they can be dry fired without pellets for the full effect.

• How to load the rifle – Bolt action or break barrel? Loading the rifle is the most dangerous time other than when it is discharged downrange. Control is essential, as is repetition.

• Trigger control – Not just how to let off the trigger, but also the importance of a gradual, controlled approach throughout the whole process

• Follow through – Still my number one source of misses after all these years. Even now I slip back into old habits. They must try to retain their point of aim throughout and after the firing cycle, to prevent errant pellets.

So now they’ve got the basics and an understanding of what’s expected of them, all that’s left is get some lead down the range. This is what they’ve been waiting for, and even a torrential downpour can’t dislodge them from the bench. With every shot we see them change their position and adapt to the situation. “Shooting high? Aim low…” It needs to become second nature. The more lead you throw, the more obvious it becomes. Plus it’s fun, which really is okay!

As the day comes to a close it’s clear to see from the elevated levels of excitement and ear-to-ear smiles that the Young Guns have enjoyed the day. Not only have they shot several hundred pellets each with different rifles at various ranges and a variety of targets, but we’ve managed to instill some of the most important gun handling and safety principles. A few more days like this and we’ll be ready to take the next step – field simulation!

Be sure to check out the next edition of Team Wild Shooting Academy when we recreate a day’s hunting in the woods and begin our journey toward field craft perfection.

Charging up a C02 Rifle

C02 is a fast and safe way to introduce young shooters to ‘PCP style’ shooting experience without the high-pressure tanks and hoses. It’s so easy to change the mini 12g C02 cartridges that Haydn picked it up in no time and showed us what to do. Simply unscrew the cylinder end-cap, allowing any residual C02 to escape before removing completely. Then simply slide out the empty cartridge and replace with a full one. Screw in the end cap until finger tight and then cycle the bolt. It’s as simple and straightforward as that!

Loading a Break-Barrel Air Rifle

I know it may seem obvious, but even now I see ‘experienced shots’ putting themselves and those around them in danger by not following basic safety protocols. If your Young Guns are going to be using break-barrel rifles, they must be shown how to cock them safely. Here’s how it’s done properly:

1. Ensure the rifle’s trigger safety mechanism is engaged.

2. Hold the forend of the rifle with your left hand and place the butt on your thigh (for right-handed shots)

3. Using an open hand, slap the end of the barrel downward – just enough to overcome the locking mechanism.

4. Hold the barrel close to the end of the muzzle where the leverage is greatest and cock the rifle firmly – but DO NOT LET GO OF THE BARREL!

5. When cocking a break-barrel air rifle you should NEVER let go of the barrel until it is back in the closed and locked position.

6. The butt should still be firmly held in your thigh and you should still have hold of the barrel. The rifle should be held firm so you can let go of the forend with your left hand to load the pellet directly into the breech.

7. Once the pellet is loaded, take hold of the forend once more and swing the barrel to the closed position with your left hand.

Realtree APG Gear

Designed for younger shooters from

• Garlands Long-sleeved T-shirt 19.99

• Garlands 6-pocket pants �29.95

• Rocky jacket �46.99

• Garlands shooting bean bag �17.99

Crosman Ratcatcher

• RRP: �132.00

• Calibre: .22

• Length:

• Weight: 3.6lbs

• Action – Single shot, bolt action

• Barrel Length: 14.6”

• Scope: Crosman Black Targetfinder 4x15

• Open Sights: Yes

• Stock: ABS Black plastic

• Safety: Cross bolt trigger lock

• Power source: 12g CO2 cartridges

Crosman Raven

• RRP: �104.00

• Calibre .177

• Length: 37.5”

• Weight: 5.0lbs

• Action: Break Barrel

• Scope: Centrepoint Power Class 3-9x36

• Open Sights: Yes – fibre optic

• Stock: ABS Black plastic

• Safety: Cross bolt trigger lock

• Power source: Spring piston