A young clay pigeon shooter from Bury is celebrating after being ranked the number one junior in English Skeet in his first year of competitive shooting.
Sixteen-year-old Jack Fairclough, who only got into the sport after attending a shooting club for his birthday, began competing in September 2012.
In the space of a year he has gone on to win the Lancashire senior and junior championships, the north of England junior championships and the Welsh open championships.
His scores were even high enough for Jack to represent the north of England senior team as they won the British open earlier this year.
Jack’s talent has not gone unnoticed with The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA), ranking the Lancashire senior champion as the highest junior in the country.
Mum Alison said: “It’s fabulous. They think he’s destined for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”
Jack, who trains at Doveridge in Staffordshire, was introduced to shooting on his birthday in 2012.
“We were looking for a different birthday party for him, and I suggested that he tried Clay Pigeon Shooting,” said Alison.
“The party was held at the Manchester Clay Pigeon Club and they were telling me, as a beginner, he shouldn’t be shooting so well and that I should be doing something about it.
“I didn’t think much of it at the time, but they were serious. Then Greater Manchester Police recommended he did a shot gun awareness course and while he was doing that they kept saying ‘this kid has oodles of talent’.”
Local lad Jack, tried English Skeet as a shooting discipline and Alison was told to get him in front of the England manager and current World Skeet Champion, David Beardsmore, for him to take a closer look at his talent.
Alison said: “He’s been coached by Dave for the past 12 months, but his coach going forward for the Olympic Skeet is going to be the American double Olympian Vincent Hancock.
“Vincent is young, which is the reason why we selected him as coach. “He won the Olympic gold at a young age. He can see Jack is passionate about shooting and that he has real talent.”
Vincent came over from America to train with Jack in December and Jack will head to Texas for some warm weather training later this year, with a view to world championship qualification.
Gill Neville, the Olympic shooting coach for TeamGB, has also assessed Jack and is keen to train and progress him.
“Gill has invited Jack to train with TeamGB in the hope that he will go onwards and upwards, and that’s all after only a year.
“Clay Pigeon Shooting is a massive sport. The Olympic Skeet is one of the hardest disciplines that there is in shooting. It’s very technical. The shooting target is 25 and Jack can already shoot 23, so it’s phenomenal.”
“To qualify for the Olympics candidates need to achieve the minimum score and he’s already achieving it.
“The plan is to get him achieving that score in a world competition and he’s likely to do that in the next 12 months, as there are many contests going on all around the world.
“If that’s the case then he will be in contention for Rio.”
Jack, who trains in all kinds of weather, will quite happily shoot until he drops, says Alison.
“The ultimate goal now is to get him to the Olympics. He’s keen and with another year’s training it is possible. “We may find that Rio comes a bit too early for him and if that’s the case then he will be a potential for Tokyo 2020.”
Jack, who used to attend Woodhey high School in Bury, is currently studying for his AS Levels at Bury Grammar sixth form.
“He’s doing physics, chemistry, biology and maths, so he’s got a fairly hefty workload at the moment.
“He’s bright, good looking, intelligent and articulate so he’s a dream for the Olympic Skeet team, jokes Alison.
“Had we not done the party last year we’d never have known how talented Jack is.
“He hadn’t picked up a gun before that party, so what he has achieved since is quite remarkable.”