January 17th 2017

“The enthusiasm bounces off everyone”

Adult volunteer Ben Hirst

Adult volunteer Ben Hirst

An adult volunteer with Derbyshire Army Cadet Force (ACF) has described how he gets more fulfilment from helping young people to take part in shooting competitions than he does taking part himself.

Second Lieutenant Ben Hirst, who when not volunteering with Derbyshire ACF, is an Assessor at New College Nottingham.

The 34-year-old from Chaddesden has been an adult volunteer with the cadets for 12 years, and is Derbyshire ACF’s County Shooting Officer, a position which enables him to pass on his passion for rifle target shooting.

Ben explained: “Shooting is a highly-skilled sport. The concentration levels you need to shoot to a high standard are incredible. It also aids teamwork and improves co-ordination.

“It’s one of those rare sports where you can end up competing against people of all ages and abilities. I remember being 16-years-old and shooting against a Commonwealth Games gold medallist at The Imperial Meeting at Bisley Ranges. Then after they’re there to talk to you and offer advice.

“It is always exciting seeing youngsters progress from hardly being able to hit the target at all to getting good scores, it is a wonderful feeling. The enthusiasm bounces off everyone.

“I think you get more joy seeing the cadets progress than you do shooting yourself. When you’re coaching a team and they’re buzzing at the scores they’ve achieved together it’s great.”

Three Derbyshire ACF cadets recently finished in the top 100 cadets for shooting in the country and Ben says just remembering their reactions gives him goosebumps.

Ben also believes being an adult volunteer has proved beneficial to his life outside of cadets, particularly in his career as an Assessor where he marks Level Two and Three NVQs in carpentry and joinery.

Ben continued: “Volunteering with the cadets looks great on my CV and it’s noticed by employers. It shows I’ve not just hung around and I’ve done something with my spare time.”

Training to become an adult volunteer is designed to encompass those from all backgrounds. Basic training will be carried out so by the time you are in uniform and ready to instruct the cadets, you will have the basic knowledge no matter what your background.

Ben added: “You make lifelong friends. I’ve been on two trips to Canada shooting, the first in 1999, and I’m still friends with the people I met there to this day.”

Derbyshire ACF has detachments across the county including Derby, Chesterfield, Long Eaton, Buxton, Glossop, Ilkeston, New Mills, Matlock and Chapel-En-Le Frith.

To find out more about volunteering in your area with the ACF contact 01332 772025 ext. 21 or email

Further details about joining the ACF can also be found by visiting

“Volunteering with the cadets looks great on my CV and it’s noticed by employers. It shows I’ve not just hung around and I’ve done something with my spare time.”