Last night’s Channel 4 News (4th April) included a piece on the excellent work being done by West Rise Junior School, featuring children learning to shoot clay pigeons for the first time. The shooting coaches and equipment were provided by the Countryside Alliance, and the Alliance’s Head of Shooting was present on the day to make sure Channel 4 saw the best that shooting has to offer to schools and young people.

West Rise Junior School’s inspirational head teacher, Mike Fairclough (pictured with Liam, left), contacted the Countryside Alliance as soon as he learned that Channel 4 were coming to film the extraordinary work he does taking children outside and getting them involved in bushcraft, fieldcraft, fishing and shooting. Being aware of the Alliance’s expertise in promoting shooting to the media, Mike asked if we could arrange clay pigeon coaching for the children and attend on the day to ensure that the news team understood the benefits of shooting as an activity for young people.

Liam Stokes, Head of Shooting at the Countryside Alliance, was present on the day of filming and had this to say: ‘we were delighted to run the shooting for West Rise Junior School, both to give children the opportunity to learn to shoot and to promote shooting on primetime television. I’m really pleased that the coverage so closely mirrored the conversations we had about shooting on the day. The news team had concerns about whether it was appropriate to give guns to such young children, and thought the idea was controversial. I had the opportunity to put their minds at ease and explain that learning to shoot with qualified coaches teaches responsibility, commitment and concentration, and that was the message we heard on our TVs last night.

‘Of course, the real heroes of the piece were the children of West Rise Junior School, who having just tried shooting for the first time were such excellent spokespeople. One even described the experience as “life changing”! Certainly these children are having their lives changed by Mike Fairclough’s leadership at West Rise, and it was a privilege to help with that work.’