The day of the DSC Level 1 test has arrived... and it’s time to find out if all our revision has paid off, writes Rebecca

With our wet weather gear on, we head off to the range and divide into two groups – one to shoot, the other to do the safety test, then we will swap. There is no doubt that yesterday’s run-through has done a lot to reassure most of us, but as I get set-up at the 100m mark ready to take my first group of shots, I am paranoid that I’m going to forget something obvious. So when I’m the only one the examiner hasn’t ‘released’ after we’ve all fired our five shots (three into the zero target, two into the deer), I begin to panic that I’ve committed some major safety error. I haven’t, of course – it’s just that the examiner has forgotten to give me the all clear to get up. Phew. I carefully pick up my rifle, being extra aware of muzzle safety, and we all move forward to the next line, ready for our sitting shots. Jelen boss Mike walks with me and reassures me that I’m doing fine. It’s nice to have the (already) familiar faces of the team around us on test day, although as they are clear to point out, we are ‘on our own’ now and they will just have to watch helplessly if we do anything wrong.

The rest of the shooting passes without incident, and it is an enormous relief to walk down to my target at the end and discover all the shots are good. By now, the wind has really started to get up and I feel sorry for the others whose turn it now is to shoot.

For us, it’s time for the safety walk-round, which is done on a one-to-one basis with an assessor. Again, if you have put in the study time beforehand, this is not something to worry about. If the information is there in your head but the pressure of the moment is making you go blank, a gentle prompt from your assessor should be enough to see you through. As with the shooting test, you know immediately if you have passed or not. And for Dom and me it is so far so good…

Back at Jelen HQ, in the warm and dry, there are three more tests to go: deer identification, meat hygiene and the multiple choice section. I don’t know about Dom, but as we go through the deer ID slides I force myself to take my time and not just go with the first thing that enters my head. On a couple of slides I ask for more time before moving on, which we’re told at the start not to be afraid to do. It’s important not to feel rushed by the rest of the group. The remaining tests are completed at your own pace.

By mid afternoon we are all done. It’s amazing how tired I suddenly feel – and also how relieved. I know I’ve done my best and that’s all any of us can hope for. Sadly, a few know that they will have to return to re-take the shooting test, but this can be done easiliy enough – there will be no need to re-take everything.

We’ll know in a few weeks whether or not we’ve passed. In the meantime, there’s a chance to look around Jelen’s smart new rifle and ammunition shop that’s installed on site. It’s a good chance to stock up on a few essentials, not to mention be tempted by a few luxuries! You can also shop online at

So that’s it. DSC Level 1 completed. Did we both pass, you’re wondering? Of course we did! It goes without saying that Dom and I are both extremely grateful for the support and excellent training we received from the Jelen team. We simply couldn’t have done it without them!

Performance anxiety – Dom’s top tips

I hate exams. The pressure, the sweaty palms, the overdosing on Red Bull… For many people who take the DSC, it is the first exam they have faced since school. And it is a nerve-wracking experience. You’ve paid a load of money to be there, worked hard and given up a precious weekend. You don’t want to screw it up.

So here are my tips to help you through test day. First up, make sure you get up in plenty of time. Trust me, you’ll be spending longer than usual in the lav and you don’t want to be rushing or late before you even begin. Have a decent breakfast, too - you’ll need your brain working well.

Practice hard for the shooting test. Trust both your gear and your ability. Some of the candidates had fitted new scopes or changed ammo just before the test and that introduces uncertainty. I shot fine on the practice but come test day, with the wind, rain and pressure, I was much more ragged. Don’t worry about shooting cloverleaf groups on the day, all you have to do is pass. However, knowing you and your rifle can (itals) shoot cloverleaf groups gives you confidence.

Don’t think for a second you can rock up and blag it. Even if you have years of experience you will have to learn the specific requirements for these exams. Spend plenty of time on the interactive learning centre drilling yourself on questions… some favourites always seem to crop up and seeing some that you know will give you a boost I found it really useful having Becky to gee me up and help me with revision. If you can find a pal to enrol with it will help egg you on and you can organise a few revision sessions in the pub, introduce a bit of friendly competition and generally make the preparation a bit more pleasurable!

Take your time. Several of the slides on the Deer ID test were ambiguous so you need to go through all the key identifiers to be sure your choice is right. Don’t let other members of the group set too fast a pace – if you need time, let the examiner know. Likewise on the practical safety walk through. Take it steady and think before you open your mouth to answer.

If you need help, ask. Our tutors were extremely supportive and they will do their utmost to address shortcomings and guide you through. Good luck!

Dom Holtam