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Peter Wilson laments the probable closure of Southern Counties Shooting Ground

Peter Wilson says bye-bye to our world-class ground – the only range in Britain able to host an ISSF World Cup – and looks back to Tucson 2012

At long last, the application for the construction of a solar park at Southern Counties Shooting Ground has been received by the West Dorset District Council. Though long anticipated, it has come as a shock that my local range will probably close and with it the Peter Wilson layout. Symbolic in a way of the apathy surrounding the lack of a legacy following the 2012 Olympics.

This is the only ground in Britain capable of holding an ISSF World Cup, only recently enhanced by the building of a first-class hotel.

Even if the planning application fails, there is still the threat of an ongoing dispute over lead pollution with the neighbouring estate owner, that he shoots makes the whole sorry tale a farce and a tragedy. Please do not think that I have sat idly by, I have pursued every option but finally come up short on funding. To replicate a ground like Southern Counties costs millions – even if the planning permission is in place and that requires little less than a miracle – and returns peanuts. The only solution lies in the hands of the Government and the money now available does not cover a twentieth of the likely cost. Sad!

Learning curve

Looking back on the ISSF World Cup in Tucson. it was a valuable learning experience for me and James Dedman, who I am currently coaching. Due to exam commitments and a mix up over airlines willing to take a gun we arrived a day later than planned, giving James little chance to ‘learn’ the ranges. On the day, he did well on the range he had shot on before but poorly on the others. It seems to me that there are more ways to lose a competition before stepping on to the firing point than during the contest itself. There are those who can stand to share a hotel room in the run up to a World Cup, but I am not one of them. I was exceptionally lucky in the Olympics to share with a good non-snoring friend, luckier still that he was a rifle shooter with a different timetable. Individual rooms are an absolute necessity and that rule having been accepted by British Shooting, I dread the news that it has been rescinded due to cost cutting.

Charity shoot

Back home, James’s mum ran a wonderful charity shoot at Mulgrave Estate in aid of The Prince’s Trust. Despite my lack of auctioneering skills a great deal of money was raised, bringing home to me once again how generous shooting people can be.

The shoot sweep at home is always a low-key affair with no charity benefits (Dad hates being treated like a captive cash cow on a shoot day). The ante is a mere £1 for all. Since we insist on the figure being hit on the nail a rollover is commonplace.

A couple of Christmases ago a young lad came beating with his grandfather for the first time, won the sweep and went home with near enough £200. We never saw him again. Perhaps he thought he’d quit while he was ahead!

Knowing right from wrong

We have a plague of mice at home and Dad is so paranoid about EU rules that he checked to see if setting a mouse trap is requires a verbal warning to the mice.

He has spent the last 10 days digging out ditches on the farm with a three-ton mini slew, amazed by the weight of soil badgers drag up and which blocks the waterways and wondering whether he is commiting another crime.

Surely right and wrong are concepts that should be clear to everyone. Raising money for the Prince’s Trust is good, keeping a farm clear of mice and the drainage in order is good. Thousands of Cows being culled to save badgers? Not so sure about that one.