Student gamekeepers at SRUC’s Elmwood Campus received their Safe Shot Awards following specialist coaching and assessment from the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
The award is an important part of the students’ course as it focuses on the safety associated with discharging and handling shotguns.
The course involved a practical clay pigeon shoot under the watchful eye of their Elmwood lecturer Jim Goodlad and Donald Muir, BASC Events and Training Officer. He is a national shotgun coach who works closely with the students at the Fife campus.
“There are huge benefits to BASC and SRUC students at Elmwood working together,” says Donald. “We want the students to understand the guns, to get familiar with them but above all we emphasise safety.”
The students carry out classroom-based practical sessions reminding them of the importance of cleaning and maintaining shotguns, before the practical session and clay pigeon shoot.
“This is an important process for the students and is part of the shotgun and sporting rifle teaching unit”, explains lecturer Jim Goodlad. “It helps confirm their master (or dominant) eye and we can ensure that the gun is correctly fitted to the individual student. It allows us to finely tune the gamekeepers’ hand to eye co-ordination”.
Duncan Connell (19) from Kirkcaldy was one of those receiving an award.
“I was a little nervous about the assessment as clay pigeon shooting is not something I have ever tried before. My family have always worked in and around the countryside, my dad is in forestry and my grandparents have a farming background. I am really enjoying the course; an office job wouldn’t be for me! As well as getting out and about I have built up some excellent contacts in the industry."
After successful completion of his course Duncan would like to pursue a career as a pheasant keeper or work in vermin control.
Ryan Hoggan (23) from Gateside is another student keen to start a career outdoors and follow on a family tradition. His father is a deerstalker and so was his grandfather and great grandfather before that. He already holds a firearms and shotgun certificate but values the coaching.
"I didn’t enjoy school but now I am finding that I am coming into college, excited about learning. Today has been a good experience and I have enjoyed it. Once I complete the course I want to be a deerstalker and see wherever that takes me, whether it be on a Highland estate stalking red deer or in the lowlands stalking roe deer. I would thoroughly recommend this course to others.”
All students on the SRUC Gamekeeping course are enrolled as BASC Gamekeeper members. Benefits include liability insurance and access to an area of the BASC website which offers support and practical advice as well as underpinning knowledge about quarry species, deer and habitat management. BASC also sponsor the Gamekeeper Student of the year prize at the local annual awards ceremony.
An additional qualification offered later on to NC Gamekeeping students at SRUC Elmwood is the Deer Management Qualification (DMQ) Level 1 award, another skill which potential employers look for.
Photo caption: (L-R) Donald Alexander, Cameron Brown, Fergus Kinvig, Ryan Hoggan, Arran Ferguson, and Duncan Connell