We hear from the mother of one of our Target Sprint athletes, Janine Bradbury - who gives us her account of her journey following her daughter, Victoria, from the first event, right the way through to the Junior World Championships in Suhl.
Let us know what you think in the comment boxes below...
Rugeley Rifle Club hosted a series event for Target Sprint last year. We have been members since 2012. Our chairman Councillor Martyn Buttery was eager for members to take part, we initially thought it was just for the youngsters, we soon learned that it's for everyone and anyone.
British Shooting’s Target Sprint Team headed by Gorgs Geikie organised the qualifying race at RRC. This was a chance to qualify for the British national finals later on in the year. Now here was the challenge, Victoria had only shot pistol, so the club’s Air Arms Sporter rifle came out of the armoury and she had three short sessions before the event. The day arrived and the stage was set, British Shooting were there with banners and bunting and Victoria arrived not knowing anything about the amazing journey that was about to begin. Her Dad took her, I was away on holiday with my sister, I phoned and wished her luck and nervously waited for news, hoping that she had enjoyed the day and been a good representative for RRC.
The call came in: "Mum, I won my race, I have qualified for the championships in Cardiff," I cried.
Victoria loves a challenge and now she had qualified we had to support her, she was full of enthusiasm and was looking forward to The British Championships. The event was organised by British Shooting and sponsored by Air Arms, who also provide all the rifles for training. The set up was spectacular.
The Welsh shooting Centre at Cardiff is amazing. A little overwhelming initially, but the facilities are fantastic. We arrived early and all the other athletes eventually filled our corner of Cardiff’s beautiful international Rugby pitch... that's where Victoria met Emily. Instantly friends and are now ‘besties for life’. That was the link that sealed the deal... smiles and relaxed, the girls warmed up for their race. The scene is set in this first-class venue, beautiful sunshine as well as happy athletes, coaches, friends and family - what a picture, this is fun, this is shooting with a smile and running made fun, everyone young and old loved it, from competitor to spectators, we all thrived on the excitement of the race. We all cheered and applauded all the competitors... we all looked forward to the next race - we could not get enough of it, we just love it.
Emily and Victoria were both in the same age group so competed shoulder to shoulder, only one could win and that's a fact. Half way through the race Emily’s rifle jammed she was leading up until then. She was ahead of the whole field, the rifle cleared just as Victoria had shot her final target down and Emily shouted ‘go Vicky’. This gave Victoria the biggest encouragement ever and when she crossed the finish line in first place, Victoria waited to hug Emily when she too crossed to finish second. They still encourage one another every shot and stride of the way, sport is such a wonderful bonding ground and wonderful experience for all of us to share. We were thrilled that Victoria won as she earned the title of being the current U15 Ladies GB Champion.
Obviously Victoria was now noticed she was cordially invited (nine months ago) to join a newly set up Target Sprint Training Team at Sedgemore Rifle club in Burnham-On-Sea. Both Emily and Victoria have been to the monthly sessions there ever since and have been joined by many other Target Sprint Athletes.
British Shooting challenged Martyn Beard and John Saint to train a small team of junior Target Sprint athletes good enough to compete at the very first Target Sprint World Championship in Suhl Germany in June 2017. The very first training day at Sedgemore Rifle Club, the athletes morning brief was about this challenge. "Nine months mmm, let's see what you can do then...let's see how you perform," said Martin Beard. "Yes let's do that, let's see how awesome you all are then", said John Saint. Clare Dyer the solo and amazing admin officer quietly chuckled from her computer and winked at me over the top of her glasses. You could tell this was going to be something very special.
Lunch break brief, the coaches are almost speechless, we were all anxiously waiting for a conversation, four words came out, "we can do this... ", tears rolled down my face. Martyn, John and Clare are all shooting experts, they knew this challenge would work but needed to have an expert running coach on board. That man would be Yate Outdoor Sport Centre’s Mark Lodge. He has excelled in providing Target Sprint with the most amazing purpose built range on the side of their already fantastic running track and with restroom facilities bar and cafe it is like athlete heaven - and parents’ dreams answered - comfort and food make happy smiley people who enjoy coming back, we keep going and love it.
Rugeley Rifle Club hosted three ranking competitions for selection for the World Championships as well as series events to gain qualification for this year’s GB Championships which are being held at Yate outdoor Sports Centre. There are lots of series events still going on around the country. The GB Series Final in October will be spectacular.
With the selection of six athletes for the World Championships completed, both Emily and Victoria made it through to the next stage. Their friendship and enthusiasm spilling over to their team mates and the team bond is awesome. It's great to witness all this every step of the way and see how, along with the coaches and support team, all these ingredients are empowering the team. It's getting stronger and stronger, Charlotte, Jack, Sam, Kieran, Emily and Victoria are like a machine, working together for the same aim, to fly the flag for GB at the World Championships. The Team is strong but train hard so they can shoot more accurately and run even faster. They are ready, they are steady they are going to the very first Target Sprint World Championship representing GB.
And so the scene was set, the GB team were off to Suhl, sending the first ever Target Sprint team! Martin, John, Charlotte, Emily Victoria, Kieran, Sam and Jack as the athletes and coaching team – but we mustn’t forget about the supporters - Emily's mum and Dad, Amy and Rob and Victoria's mum and dad (Ced and myself). A small team but top quality.
Over 60 countries took part in the competition, the opening ceremony was emotional seeing Sam carry the Union Jack for our team and listening to the accreditations from the top officials from all over the world. The girls all qualified for their individual race and Emily recorded a fantastic time. Also, all three girls ran PB times! The boys ran well and also gained PBS - Kieran qualified with Jack and Sam only narrowly missing the final line up.
With four GB athletes through to the finals it was extremely exciting!
Overall, Victoria came seventh in the final with another brilliant PB time, Kieran eighth in an amazingly fast time (PB by a mile). Another fantastic PB from Emily who came ninth - her qualifying time would have given her a silver in the final. Charlotte 10th and yet again amazing PB time.
Adding to the team morale was the support shown by the GB pistol squad and Paul Taylor who also came to cheer with us.
Overall, it was a very emotional day, and I was proud as punch. The Whole Team live up to being awesome yet again!
It's Fun It's Exciting and it's a Sport for All .
If you would like to have a go here is a chance at grass roots and national level - and it only costs time and trainers - the rest is all provided by Air Arms and British Shooting!
Visit the TargetSprint.com web site for all the details.