Airgun World - - Contents -

On Sun­day the 7th of Oc­to­ber, I drove a hun­dred miles to see a new, to me at least, air­gun sport. So it was that I found my­self at the Yate Out­door Sports Com­plex in South Gloucester, shout­ing my head off to en­cour­age peo­ple I’d never met be­fore, and thor­oughly en­joy­ing the spec­ta­cle. A gen­uinely watch­able shoot­ing sport that gets the spec­ta­tors ex­cited to the point of jump­ing up and down? This re­ally was some­thing spe­cial.

The name of this sport is ‘tar­get sprint’, and all you need to know about it can be found by vis­it­ing www.tar­get­sprint.com. In the mean­time, let me tell you what set my pulse rac­ing and why I was jump­ing around and cheer­ing like a bonkers per­son on that sunny Sun­day in Gloucester.


Tar­get sprint re­quires its par­tic­i­pants to line up to­gether, be­fore a starter pis­tol fires and they be­gin with a 400-me­tre run. As this first run comes to an end, the com­peti­tors en­ter their shoot­ing sta­tions, pick up their tar­get ri­fles, and from the stand­ing po­si­tion, at­tempt to hit five, 49.5mm di­am­e­ter, cir­cu­lar tar­gets, be­fore re­plac­ing the ri­fle in its rack and set­ting off on the sec­ond 400-me­tre run. When that cir­cuit is com­pleted, it’s time to re-en­gage the tar­gets for an­other series of five, af­ter which the fi­nal 400-me­tre run de­cides who crosses the fin­ish­ing line first and wins the heat.


Sounds ex­haust­ing? You bet it is, but the ex­cite­ment of watch­ing the com­peti­tors bat­tle it out, while all the time try­ing for the per­fect trade-off be­tween run­ning speed and con­trol over their shoot­ing, is fas­ci­nat­ing, ad­mirable, ex­cit­ing and just great fun to watch, es­pe­cially if you’re cheer­ing on a favourite. This re­ally is a shoot­ing sport in which spec­ta­tors can get in­volved, and can gen­uinely en­joy watch­ing it. The buzz among the par­tic­i­pants re­minded me so much of the early days of field tar­get shoot­ing, and al­though those two sports could hardly be more dif­fer­ent, that feel­ing of be­ing in­volved in some­thing is in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing.

Within the tar­get sprint blend of com­pet­i­tive­ness, de­sire to suc­ceed and de­ter­mi­na­tion, I saw the very same ca­ma­raderie I ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing my time as an FT shooter.


It was that un­stop­pable mix, made even more po­tent by the guid­ance of a pas­sion­ate gov­ern­ing body and the sup­port of the trade, that even­tu­ally took field tar­get shoot­ing right around the world. Tar­get sprint is al­ready an ac­cred­ited in­ter­na­tional sport, and from what I’ve seen, it has all the in­gre­di­ents to make it truly global – and I’d love to be there, shout­ing and cheer­ing my head off, when that hap­pens.


‘In 2016 an in­tro­duc­tion was made to Bri­tish Shoot­ing by Martin But­tery from Eley to work on a project that would see the pos­i­tive pro­mo­tion of tar­get shoot­ing to a non-shoot­ing au­di­ence. Be­tween our three or­gan­i­sa­tions, we would present 10-me­tre shoot­ing to the UK, as part of a huge sports pro­gramme to be held at the NEC. Un­for­tu­nately, this event, for one rea­son or an­other, never took place. Now deeply en­trenched in our com­mit­ment to pro­mote our sport to the masses, Bri­tish Shoot­ing and Air Arms seized the op­por­tu­nity to build upon our re­la­tions to de­velop tar­get sprint. Tar­get sprint has been around for a num­ber of years and was be­ing prac­tised mainly through our Scout Groups. Tar­get sprint is an of­fi­cial ISSF dis­ci­pline and Bri­tish Shoot­ing wanted to take tar­get sprint in the UK, to the next level. Air Arms stepped in to as­sist with re­sources to make this hap­pen.


‘Air Arms, through­out our ex­is­tence, has al­ways been proac­tive in the pro­mo­tion and de­liv­ery of the UK’s tar­get shoot­ing dis­ci­plines, so much so that we in­clude within our range of prod­ucts a ri­fle that suits the needs of most air­gun­ning dis­ci­plines, and never more so than now. In a time when ‘air­guns’ and ‘shoot­ing’ are of­ten deemed dirty words amongst the main­stream, we re­alised that if we wanted our sport and the in­dus­try it sup­ports to con­tinue and grow, we had to pull our socks up, present air­gun shoot­ing in a pos­i­tive light and look for new ways to pro­mote air­gun­ning. Tar­get sprint is sim­ply that, a new plat­form upon which we can build our next gen­er­a­tion of shoot­ers.


‘Tar­get sprint is about ath­leti­cism, pre­ci­sion and con­trol. It is de­mand­ing; the train­ing is in­tense and com­pe­ti­tion is high, but the re­wards are noth­ing short of phe­nom­e­nal. In less than two years, Bri­tish Shoot­ing has de­vel­oped ath­letes to be the very best that they can be, and the UK has com­peted in­ter­na­tion­ally for the first time this year, bring­ing back with them a suitcase full of medals and a buck­et­load of per­sonal bests, which is sim­ply fan­tas­tic. Tar­get sprint is ex­hil­a­rat­ing to watch, too. It’s a true spec­ta­tor sport in which spec­ta­tors are en­cour­aged to cheer for their favourites through their event. As such, it is proven that peo­ple are now pick­ing up air­guns and shoot­ing them when they would never have done so be­fore. ‘The other great as­pect of tar­get sprint is that it is ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one. To try out the sport, all you need is a pair of run­ning shoes, be­cause most hubs have equip­ment on site for the ath­lete to use. Air Arms recog­nised the po­ten­tial of this sport from the very start and we are so pleased and proud to part­ner Bri­tish Shoot­ing in the de­vel­op­ment and growth of this fan­tas­tic dis­ci­pline.


‘There is no ques­tion that tar­get sprint has plenty of room to grow. There are new hubs and train­ing cen­tres pop­ping up across the

UK al­most monthly, and Bri­tish Shoot­ing is on hand to of­fer the much needed, coach-train­ing pro­grammes. No ta­lent is lost be­cause all the hubs re­port back to Bri­tish Shoot­ing through a ta­lent path­way. What is also ex­cit­ing, are the po­ten­tial vari­a­tions and de­riv­a­tives of tar­get sprint that could de­velop in time. We re­ally are see­ing some­thing spe­cial here, and Air Arms has pledged to sup­port tar­get sprint, as we sup­port the field tar­get and hunter field tar­get dis­ci­plines. We be­lieve this is a fan­tas­tic time to be­come in­volved with air­gun shoot­ing, and now with tar­get sprint, there’s yet an­other way to do that – and dis­cover a won­der­ful new sport!’

“hubs re­port back to Bri­tish Shoot­ing through a ta­lent path­way”

Tar­get sprint is go!

Lights, cam­era - and plenty of ac­tion. Tar­get sprint is go­ing places - fast.

Af­ter the first 400 me­tre cir­cuit, the com­peti­tors were still side-by-side - and the ex­cite­ment was build­ing.

The Air Arms TS400 is widely used in tar­get sprint. That thumb-op­er­ated cock­ing lever looks in­ter­est­ing, doesn’t it?

Dave Wel­ham, dis­cusses tar­get sprint with Gorgy Geiki, com­pe­ti­tion co-or­di­na­tor.

Ex­u­ber­ance. Heat win­ner, Olly Vass, cel­e­brates his vic­tory with a cart­wheel!

Blan­ket fin­ish! I was jump­ing about at this point!

Win­ners all. This sport has the po­ten­tial to go right to the top!

Olly smiles the smile of the vic­to­ri­ous tar­get sprinter.

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