As a squad of 20 Team England athletes prepare to compete in shooting events at next month’s Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, we look at how the sport has become increasingly accessible as a rewarding pastime.
Words: David Leck
Pick up a rifle and aim at a target – shooting’s simple, right? Wrong – this is a tense sport in which you need to balance concentration and nerve alongside hand-eye co-ordination and excellent motor skills. But where do you start? Liz Davidson is Head of Engagement at British Shooting and keen to emphasise the options available.
“Target shooting is a highly accessible sport with different disciplines to suit different people. For many, air gun shooting offers the perfect entry route as it’s low cost and available at plenty of shooting clubs and grounds across the UK,” she explains.
“For those who like the idea of shooting moving targets, clay is a great option. At Olympic level the disciplines of clay shooting include trap and skeet and it is great enjoyed with a group of friends.
“Finally, if precision and patience are your thing there are a range of rifle disciplines that could be just up your street,” adds Liz, who is also keen to stress the inclusivity offered by the sport.
“Target shooting can cater for all. Around 20% of shooters have a disability and regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or physical attributes, we think our sport offers something for everyone.”
Which shot is which?
Target shooting covers a range of disciplines. They use different types of guns but the aim is that of hitting a specific target – most commonly a clay, paper or knock-down fixture. Olympic shooting is split into three categories – shotgun, pistol and rifle.
Shotgun In these events, competitors shoot at moving clay targets launched above and in front of them. The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association website (www.cpsa.co.uk) has information on courses, events, a what’s on diary and details of how to find a professional instructor.
Rifle and Pistol In rifle and pistol, competitors aim at a 10-ring target from a set distance (10m, 25m or 50m), with points awarded for a shot’s proximity to the centre,
much like archery.
Laser Target Shooting This is an adaptation of the sport and enables shooting to be taken into environments where traditional pellet/cartridge shooting may be difficult and to introduce even more people to the sport.
Disability Shooting Paralympians can compete in rifle and pistol events. According to British Shooting, disabled people currently make up 25% of recreational shooters.
Youth Shooting The Great Britain Academy Programme was developed in 2014 to ensure there was a clear talent pathway for skilled young shooters. Due to the wide range of guns available, there is no real age limit – and strength isn’t important.