The Kilgetty .177 Target Shooting Club was founded by Phil Jackson and his father Neil a short while ago and this week we were delighted to chat to 59 year old Phil about the development of the club and its recent incursion into sport crossbow shooting as the first club formed in Wales as the South Pembs Sports Crossbow Club.

"We hold our weekly meetings at the village hall in Kilgetty," said Phil, "and we love to see new members of all ages, both sexes, disabled and non-disabled members after earning the Blue Ribbon for inclusivity from the Sports Council for Wales.

"We worked closely with Angela Miles, the Disability Officer from Sport Pembrokeshire, to update our constitution, safety and first aid - and are now working towards developing a new web-site as the next step.

Phil is very eager to introduce young children to the self-discipline and good fun of target and crossbow shooting - and in the former sport he has already been coaching children from as young as six years old.

"We were contacted by a parent to ask they could bring their son of that age along and we had to contact headquarters at Bisley, who confirmed that kids can start as young as four, providing they could safely hold a .177 pistol."

As a result, Phil and Co now have youngsters who are good enough to compete at the British Schools' Championships, held under the auspices of British Shooting, for 2017/18, with qualifiers  in October and November at Bro Dinwefwr (Carmarthen), Leweston School (Dorset), Glyn School (Surrey) and Ellesmere College (Shropshire).

"They lead to the finals in January at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Buckinghamshire and will include categories for juniors (school years 6, 7 and 8), inter (years 9 and 10) and senior (years 11, 12 and 13).

"I'm delighted that there are similar categories for disabled competitors," Phil said, "alongside three-team events that include a mix of mixed gender and physical ability.

"We will have a boy and two girls entered for the junior category and one boy in the inter class as part of a push by our main organisation to recognise talent as early as possible since we hope to have our sport in the Olympic Games as soon as possible."

The club has recently put on a 'taster weekend' with both pistols and crossbow and it certainly paid dividends because they  had lots of people coming to try them out - and hopefully provide a number of new recruits.

It is good to report that all new members undertake a short course in self-discipline and safety, following a strict set of sidelines, before they are allowed to have a pistol or crossbow in their hands.

Phil had his own first experience of firearms as a youngster in the local army cadets, where he fired .303 and SLR rifles, plus general purpose machine guns.

"For us youngsters the .303 was a beast of a weapon because of the huge recoil and impact on young shoulders so we used to tuck our caps into the shoulder strap but we often had black and blue shoulders - but we learned a great deal about self-discipline as well as having an immense amount of fun!"

"Then other things got in the way as I grew up and like most people, family life took over until my father Neil and I got involved, purely by chance, after watching the Olympic Games on television and watching some shooting.

"Dad had lost his leg and was in a wheelchair, and needing something to focus on, and Angela Miles, the Disability Officer for Pembrokeshire, was hugely supportive and put us in touch with Ron Hovell at the Modern Print Target Shooting Club in nearby Pennar.

"Ron made us really welcome and dad took to it straight away - and to be honest I had only gone as company for him but enjoyed it every bit as much as he did.

"12 months later I was competing and you can imagine how thrilled I was when I won a silver medal under the Bisley set-up, firing a .177 pistol on the 10-metre range.

"Since then I have been successful with a brace of gold medals at Bisley (but Dad has three!) and I've qualified again - but I am just as pleased with the way my coaching has worked out after Ron got me involved fairly soon after I started and was soon promoted to being a range officer."

From there Phil has gained further promotion to being a club instructor after an intensive two-day course and in the last six months I qualified as a club coach alongside John Kelman (Carmarthen) and Justin Pricket (Milford Haven) in a course organised by John Lloyd.

Sadly, the club lost its range in Pennar and eventually the club fragmented into three segments, with Ron continuing to run the Modern Print Club but with the new club formed in Milford Haven and Phil setting out with his South Pembs Club.

It was John Lloyd who sowed the seeds for the development of a sport crossbow section and Phil would readily admit that he was given every encouragement from the Community Chest Fund organised by Alan Jones at Sport Pembrokeshire, especially in buying the crossbow (which has a reduced pull of 40lbs to allow children to use it), the bolts and targets, which have to be specially constructed and of sufficient thickness so the bolts can penetrate them.

As Phil about other sports and he would mention his rugby days at Greenhill School, Tenby - and he is still a very keen angler in course, rivers and reservoirs.

"I once caught a 10lb pike on the Norfolk Broads on a tiny hook which tempted a tiddler before it was gobbled up by this giant hunter who put up a terrific fight for over an hour!"

Back on the shooting front, Phil and Neil have continued to shoot and as well as coaching enjoy competing at a high level, where Phil's best score is an amazing 96 out of 100 and for which he admits he felt like a dog with two tails!

He is also pleased that the family involvement has developed because his son Adam (25) has already been a Bisley silver medalist whilst daughter Jenna (27) has just started out with sport crossbow and settling in well.

One of the club's future aims is to acquire some land and a couple of industrial containers which they can use as ranges; alongside a third from the space in between!

All of them are lucky to have total support from Phil's mum Julia, who also uses a wheelchair but is a great motivator for her clan. It all adds up to a really keen and dedicated group of which Phil Jackson is a shining example and we wish him every success in maintaining his club at such a high level!