On December 12th The Schools Challenge celebrated a decade of supporting young shots across the nation, and made history by giving away a car as first prize to the very talented 16 year old Tom Scott, a prize value that has never been matched before.
It was a great celebration of the sport, and a fantastic, inspiring demonstration of how The Schools Challenge and The Oxford Gun Company are working hard to broaden the appeal of clay shooting. As the largest young shots organisation in the UK, the contest decided the top 5 young shooters! Not only did the youngsters get a chance to show off their best skills, but there was something for all the family. Commonwealth Silver Medallist Matthew French also gave an illuminating speech urging each of the young shooters to pursue their sporting dreams and praising The Schools Challenge programme.
We speak to David Florent, the founder of The Schools Challenge, and Manager and Instructor at The Oxford Gun Company to hear his thoughts and plans for The Schools Challenge as we celebrate the end of a milestone year.
A decade of The Schools Challenge is an impressive anniversary to celebrate. What is your highlight from the past 10 years?
It’s so hard to pick one specifically, there have been so many! I enjoy working with youngsters and watching them improve every day and am so proud that we are increasing the popularity of sport with young people. We’re bringing clay shooting to the mainstream, when we got our first national press interested in the sport it felt like a barrier had been broken down, and involving sponsors from outside the shooting world just demonstrates that the popularity of the sport is growing. The fact that we have helped big names such as Amber Hill, Team GB and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year 2014, get into the sport is obviously a massive bonus!
What is your highlight from the 10th Anniversary Final?
Seeing Tom walk away with the car at the end of the day. It was immensely impressive to see someone win the contest that we started shooting just under three years ago at The Oxford Gun Company. In those three years he has gone from a complete novice to a shot that other youngsters aspire to be like.
Although everyone on the day shot incredibly well, the standard really was outstanding, he was the deserved winner.
Why do you think that programmes like The Schools Challenge are so important for young shots?
It’s not just important for young shots, but for the entire future of the sport. Shooting is an aging sport, and it’s becoming old fashioned. It needs to be brought into the 21st Century to guarantee its survival. The Schools Challenge helps promote the sport to a wider audience and give young people the support and hone the skills that will help them succeed in the sport.
What’s next for The Schools Challenge?
It has been an exceptional year for The Schools Challenge and we’re ending 2015 in a really great place. 2016 is set to be even bigger. With new bigger sponsors, a partnership with ISA we are now in a really strong position to build on what we have started.