A Shropshire school pupil has been tipped as one to watch in future Olympic competitions after impressing on his first talent programme.
“He’s going to do well your lad, don’t worry” the Olympic Talent Pathway coaches told Arran Eccleston’s proud dad Darran as they watched him practice his clay pigeon shooting.
Just 12 months after his first shooting competition 14-year-old Arran, of Higher Heath, is the youngest member of the latest Olympic Pathway squad.
The Thomas Adams School pupil has been to two sessions so far and said it is just where he wants to be.
“Everyone there is really good but it just makes me want to get better so I’m really enjoying it,” he said.
“You get coached by champion shooters and it is helping me to improve already.
“My favourite part of shooting is the competitiveness of it, constantly trying to better myself and improve.
“I’m really looking forward to learning more and getting better as I practice more.”
Arran began shooting at the age of 10 after going along to watch his father, who shoots as a pastime. After trying his hand at clay pigeon and game shooting himself, Arran had a few lessons at the West Midlands Shooting Ground in Hodnet and found he had a natural ability for it.
Just 12 months ago he started taking part in competitions and quickly qualified for the county junior team, which involves shooters up to the age of 21.
He gained a silver medal in the county all round competition in Nottingham and a gold in the county English Sporting discipline last year – which meant he was the Shropshire Junior Championship for 2015.
He’s now aiming to represent great Britain in 2020, 2024 or the 2028 Olympics.
He trains once a week at Hodnet and at weekends, when he’s not working at the West Midlands Shooting Ground, travels to Doveridge, Stoke-on-Trent, to practice at his nearest Olympic layout shooting range.
Darran said the pathway scheme is already proving to be a real boost.
“You could just see it in Arran’s attitude when he was there, it just clicked,” he said.
“It is everything we thought it would be and more, he is thriving.
“He’s the youngest person but he’s shooting as well as the best that are there, up to the age of 24.
“His coach is over the moon with him, age is on his side and that’s what they like, he’s got no bad habits in his technique so far.”
Arran, who also plays rugby for Whitchurch and Shropshire as well as cricket, took on his part time job to help pay for cartridges and learn more about how traps work and how competitions are set up.
His main ambition right now is to represent Britain in the Junior World Championships, he will also take part in the English Open in May and compete against gold medal winners at the Great British Selection Shoot later this summer.
His parents are determined to give him all the experiences he needs, trying his hand at all options.
His mum Clair said: “He’s a very determined young man, he’s the same with his school work as he is with his shooting, he always wants to better himself.
“The school has been really supportive, letting him have time off and take work with him to competitions.
“After all the success in the last few Olympics those involved are more focused on developing people – Darran’s loving it because it is an opportunity he never had.
“We are really proud of him and will do whatever we can to support him as best we can.”
Liz Dakin, head teacher at Thomas Adams School, in Lowe Hill Road, Wem, said Arran is a model pupil as well as a dedicated sportsman.
“We are so thrilled that Arran has this opportunity,” she said.
“He is an exceptional young man who is doing very well in his preparation for his GCSE’s at the same time.
“If he has to miss a day of school he makes sure he doesn’t miss the work and always catches up.
“He just seems to be really enjoying himself and we are all behind him here at Thomas Adams.
“To be competing against people ten years his senior and doing so well is brilliant.”