NEW AND EXCITING SPORT!
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.
AIR ARMS MD, CLAIRE WEST, SAYS …
‘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.
GROWING GREAT GUNS
‘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.