Marksmen face crisis.
New planning proposals, put forward by the Government, could decimate the sport and cost rural jobs, say critics.
In January the Department for Transport and the Local Regions said it planned to amend the rules so that all clay shoots would have to apply for planning consent every time they held a shoot.
Currently smaller shoots are exempt if they operate for fewer than 28 days a year.
If the new guidelines are implemented owners fear local councils could withhold planning permission.
Not only would this strangle many clay shoots, says the British Shooting Sports Council, it would affect all shooting sports and impact on rural economies.
For Holywell-born David Hughes, one of the sport's brightest young stars, the issue is another distraction.
At 26, he is the current Breitling/Beretta World Sporting Champion yet has already had to abandon plans to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
In February he was rejected for Elite Cymru sports funding, operated by the Sports Council of Wales.
"I was told it was because there were people who were higher ranked in their own sports, " said David, now of Abersoch.
He currently practises at weekends or when not working as a landscaper for caravan sites operator Thornley Leisure, who sponsor his absences.
David said: "If I could get proper funding, it would enable me to practise three or four days a week."
The SCW is this year funding 12 Welsh shooters to prepare for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
David is not among them because, says John Osborne, company secretary of the Welsh Clay Target Shooting Association, he does not satisfy the criteria for sponsorship: his preferred discipline, English Shooting, is not recognised as an official competition sport.
But former Bagillt councillor Tom Griffiths who has been lobbying on David's behalf, said he detected a "North-South divide" in the way funding applications were treated.
Bob Valentine Shooting School has organised a 100-gun charity clay pigeon shoot at the Nanhoron Estate, Pwllheli, on May 11, starting at 10am. Proceeds to the Gateway Project.
SHOOTING STAR: David Hughes
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Apr 16, 2002|
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