OLYMPIC double trap champion Peter Wilson believes that taking up shooting can make youngsters better people and has challenged any sceptics to give the sport a go before passing judgement.

The 26-year-old from Dorchester says he is thrilled to be in a position to give shooting “a voice” and help raise its profile following his gold medal triumph at London 2012.

Wilson was speaking at Southern Coun-ties Shooting in Evershot, the place he learnt to shoot and still uses to train, to aid the launch of the Countryside Alliance’s National Shooting Week, which runs from May 25 to June 2.

He reckons it is the perfect opportunity for anyone interested, young or old, to experience shooting for the first time and to learn more about a sport that most people only get to see every four years.

“I hope it will get lots of people into shooting,” he said. “I think education is key and what I believe National Shooting Week is all about.

“It’s a wonderful sport. It has given me a great deal and I owe it huge amounts and would challenge anyone and everyone to take it up and have a go.

“I do believe too many people are too quick to judge a sport like shooting without having given it a go.

“It really is great fun and the number of people I’ve spoken to, who weren’t sure and have then had a go and absolutely loved it, is surprising.

“In fact, I haven’t met anyone yet who has said anything different.

“I’m really happy to represent shooting in a very positive light and show the outside world what we do is a very safe, controlled and wonderful sport.

“I don’t think anyone yet has put their head above the parapet and done that.

“I’m happy to do that and if you want to call me an ambassador then that’s fine but I’m just really enjoying this opportunity to give our sport a voice.”

And when it comes to younger people getting involved in the sport, he added: “It’s about knowledge and education. If a child has been awarded a shotgun certificate aged 12 they won’t be able to buy a gun.

“It’s really just to state they are on the road to understanding and furthering their knowledge of shooting.

“I hasten to add that before anyone gets carried away with a 12-year-old going off and buying a gun, that’s not within the law, you have to be 18.

“You have to be of an age to make serious decisions; marriage, babies, cars etc and I would say a car is far more dangerous in the wrong hands than a gun and to get a gun licence you have to go through that many more checks.

“I think I had a shotgun certificate very young but I actually think it makes you a better person because you suddenly realise you have a responsibility.

“You feel a duty of care to represent yourself, your family and the country in a proper and appropriate way and I think we lack that level of respect from one another in this country.

“Shooting Week is about allowing kids and anyone and everyone access to a shooting range in a controlled, safe environment and I don’t see that being a bad thing at all.

“In fact, I think it’s a wonderful thing and it’s not forced upon anyone, it’s giving everyone the choice to turn up and enjoy a sport that is very safe.”

After winning the Al Ain World Cup event in the UAE last month, his first competition since London last August, Wilson is now preparing for the GB Trials in Kippen, Scotland, in June.

Two more sets of trials, the World Championships and World Cup final will occupy the rest of Wilson’s year though his long-term goal is qualifying for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

n Target shooting events are being run by more than 70 grounds across the country as part of National Shooting Week, now in its sixth year.

For details, visit the website national shootingweek.co.uk