Shooting: 10m Air Rifle

Since my marathon heartbreak (which is what I’d be calling it if I were a tabloid journalist), I’ve struggled a bit recently to find the motivation to a. do any exercise, and b. write anything, leading to slightly erratic frequency of posts. It’s not like I don’t have other events to train for or plan, it’s just that sitting on my arse, eating peanut butter M&Ms whilst getting progressively angrier about Richard Madeley’s Broadchurch-wreaking tweets has seemed more appealing.

If I think about it for any length of time, I panic a bit about the fact that I’ve still not signed up for a triathlon. So I don’t think about it, and focus my efforts on aforementioned M&Ms. However, over the last week or so, it’s occurred to me that there are more sports left than there are weeks in the final part of this year long challenge. Nonetheless, I’m determined to finish within the year. It might mean, however, that I continue to post blog entries after the year has finished. This means I’ll likely be boring you for a little longer than I had originally planned, for which I apologise.

There’s quite a bit in the pipeline. I have at least tentative plans for track cycling, BMX, rowing and my two remaining equestrian events, in the coming weeks. Though interestingly enough, despite frequent attempts to reach out to the volleyball community, this sport continues to elude me. Two clubs have offered to help me out with volleyball. Tendring (a massive geographical fail on my part scuppered this) and Tamworth, neither of which are particularly conveniently located from my perspective, though I am very grateful for the offers.

I’m not sure why you hate me so much, volleyball. Ask your friendly European neighbour, handball – I’m relatively nice. What are you doing in your training sessions – dabbling in the dark arts? Come on, London-based teams, throw me a bone (metaphorically, you understand) – prove to me that you’re not an elaborate ruse for, er, practicing goat sacrifices?

So whilst I didn’t get to a volleyball session this week, I did tick sport number 23, shooting, off the list. Immediately after my little Sky Sunrise jolly (and I literally mean immediately), I received an email from someone informing me that I simply wouldn’t be able to complete my task, because you can’t shoot pistols in the UK as it’s illegal and that the Olympic squad actually have to do this in Switzerland. In case you ever want to know of a really effective method of crushing someone, I recommend informing them immediately after their first ever appearance on live TV, that their dream is unattainable. Buzz-killing aside, whilst I appreciate how irritating this must be for the squad, I’m very firmly in the let’s try to limit access to offensive weapons camp.

Determined not to be dissuaded by this, I got in touch with Surbiton Postal Rifle Club which very kindly hooked me up with Mike Bamsey. I received an email from Mike, offering to show me the ropes and like an idiot, I sat on my arse eating peanut butter M&Ms, taking my sweet time to get back to him, blissfully unaware that he was in fact a member of the GB squad. By the time this was brought to my attention, Mike had returned to university from his Easter holidays and was no longer available to help. There’s a moral to this story, and that moral is “You snooze – you lose”.

JUST like a Bond film

JUST like a Bond film

Enter Simon Flowers, captain of the club, and daughter Melanie – former GB squad member, who kindly stepped into the fray. So whilst I regret, essentially, being quite rude to Mike (because that’s unbecoming of a faux Olympian), I do not regret the subsequent victory for girl power and all that.

Quite often it seems to be the case that children get into certain sports because one of their parents is super keen, but in this case, Simon actually followed in Melanie’s footsteps. Sports-mad Melanie first tried shooting at Scouts, thinking she probably wouldn’t get on with it because she “didn’t really like loud noises”, but it turned out, she was rather good. As she progressed in the sport, eventually making it onto the national squad, Simon thought he might as well have a go if he was going to spend so much of his time knocking around at competitions watching Melanie. Turned out, he was quite good, too. Now Simon teaches the local Scout group how to shoot, sort of like the reverse, sporting circle of life, or something.

Melanie, doing her bit for girl power

Melanie, doing her bit for girl power

Nicola and I arrive at the club on a Tuesday evening, and follow Simon’s directions which bring us to a council estate. After the event, the estate is described to me by various Surrey-based pals as a bit of a scary place. It didn’t actually seem that bad to me, though I remind myself that I was in Surrey rather than Hackney, after all – it’s all relative, you know. Amazingly, the club is located under the estate, behind a car park, like a Bond film, but considerably less glamorous.

I’m not expecting to be much good at this. I have absolutely terrible eye sight, and I’m guessing this is not going to work to my advantage. As well as this, I don’t even trust myself with a power-sander, for fear that I’ll sand off my own arm, so how can I possibly be trusted with a gun? I’m not going to lie to you, when Nicola and I enter the armory of the club, I absolutely cack myself. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to losing this one.

Pretty serious about shooting

Pretty serious about shooting

Simon sets us up with some air rifles after a tour of the premises, and we have a go at shooting whilst sitting down, to begin with. I’m genuinely terrified taking my first shot and mentally picture some kind of PJ & Duncan style shooting tragedy, but with less paint. I concentrate on firstly, shooting in the right direction, and secondly, hitting the target, though my first set of shots don’t appear to have achieved the latter objective with any real consistency. Nicola is delighted, as she seems to have fared rather better. I’m not surprised, to be honest, and suspect that Simon is just being kind when he tells me that whilst not on target, the grouping of my shots is good. He adjusts the “sights” for me, and I seem to do a bit better, ok, a lot better, and I hit a bullseye. But I’m not excited yet, because this could clearly have been a fluke.

A confident start by the Essex Girl

A confident start by the Essex Girl

On the next round, we progress to shooting standing up which is quite a bit harder. I’m shaking wildly whilst holding the rifle and I can’t imagine how I will even hit the card. Not only this, but I concentrate to the point that my vision blurs. There’s a reason for this, apparently, it’s not just my terrible sight but in fact something to do with oxygen levels and there being an optimum point at which to take the shot. However, my aim is better than I could’ve dreamt, and all of my shots hit the card, three of them even hit the target I was aiming for. Though things have gone down hill for Nic, who has failed to land a shot on target.

Nicola, meaning bidness

Nicola, meaning bidness

After some discussion about whether or not I’m using the superior rifle, we swap guns and I’m sure my number is going to be up. Struggling against my unsteady hand, I take my shots and I’m once again astounded to discover that four of the five have hit the target. Not only this, but one of those shots is a nine-pointer and another is an eight-pointer. Nic has struggled again to regain her initial good form. Simon and Melanie reckon we’re both pretty good for beginners, but I’m clearly the gold medalist on this occasion, which whilst baffling, is not unwelcome. It’s quite nice to be good at a sport from time to time.

Me, taking care of bidness

Me, taking care of bidness

Gold

Silver

Bronze

 Total

Jen

9

13

1

23

Gemma

3

3

Jade

2

1

3

Nick

2

2

Uncle Becky

1

2

3

Harriet

1

1

2

Chloe Rogers

1

1

Colin

1

1

Dalston Dunkers

1

1

Daniel

1

1

GB Handball

1

1

John D

1

1

John T

1

1

Naomi

1

1

Otter Water Polo

1

1

Romford HC

1

1

Ruislip Eagles

1

1

Steve

1

1

Su

1

1

Vera

1

1

Simon

2

2

Nic  1  1  2
Ali

1

1

James

1

1

My Mum

1

1

Pete

1

1

© Inspire a Jen, 2013

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