GB Shooters Prepare For Discipline Change
Published Friday 21 April 2017 13:53 by Craig Davies
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British shooters are preparing for the challenges set out by Agenda 2020 as it becomes ever-likely that 50m Rifle, 50m Pistol and Double Trap Shotgun will be removed from the Olympic programme - and British Shooting will support its athletes every step of the way.

The International Shooting Sport Federationís (ISSF) have submitted proposals to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure the sport meets gender equality guidelines and with this in mind, British Shooting has been planning accordingly to ensure affected athletes on the British Shooting World Class Programme (WCP) receive the support they need to transition. 

Despite the disappointment of losing some of our top-performing disciplines from the Olympic programme, British Shooting is supportive of the ISSFís desire to protect the place of shooting sports in the Olympic Games and recognises the importance of achieving gender equality.

As the only National Governing body in Great Britain recognised by the ISSF, BOA, UK Sport and Sport England, we must ensure we are unified in our approach as a sport, while at the same time ensure our funding is invested in areas that are likely to achieve Olympic success. That means Lottery funding from UK Sport will support Olympic disciplines only, however, we will support current WCP athletes moving across to other Olympic disciplines where possible.

All athletes on the programme have already demonstrated the behaviours and performance levels of world-class athletes and that means we believe they can show those attributes in other Olympic disciplines. We are extremely aware of athlete welfare and have been in close conversations with all our athletes to ensure we are providing a process of support.   

Athletes selected to receive support and funding as they move disciplines will be required to meet a Ďtransitionary WCP selection criteria' that will be applied in October 2017. These have been incorporated into the WCP selection policy for 2017/18. To view the selection policy, click here.

We also hope the early release of the WCP criteria will help athletes across all disciplines to understand and prepare for WCP selection in October.

One of the key athletes that the decision will impact is Rifle shooter and World Class Programme athlete, Ken Parr. With 50m Prone being his preferred discipline, he faces a very challenging time over the next few years ensuring he performs at a level that could see him qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

He said: "With the removal of Prone from the Olympic programme, I've had to get back to basics and training on a wider amount of disciplines by switching to the 3-Positions event. It is going to be hard work making this change, but Iím really excited by the challenge and certainly feel like I have all the tools available to make a success of it.

"British Shooting have been really supportive and I have worked with them to set some realistic goals for the year, where I donít feel I have to make the switch over night. You have to take a long term view of the development and be a bit more patient with the development steps. I certainly feel ahead of where I expected to be at this stage of the transition and had my first competition last month testing my technique out under pressure.Ē

Away from rifle, Athlete Representative and Double Trap shooter Matt French has also seen the positive side of the decision, although he admitted it is a surreal time to be involved in the sport and will be very sad to see Double Trap removed from the Olympic programme. 

ďThereís no doubt that life without Double Trap will be sad and very strange for some time. In terms of preparing for the future, Iíve been doing a great deal of research into both the Trap and Skeet disciplines but Iím not sure which discipline Iíll move to just yet. Both require a change of gun to Double Trap and there are a lot of technical and equipment changes to make. 

ďThankfully British Shooting have been extremely supportive at this difficult time for all of us and I think we are as well supported as we possibly can be. They havenít just turned their back on us and have been brilliant in helping us to make a decision on transitioning.  Itís fantastic that in looking to change events, we have instant access to some of the best coaches in the world and have support from a sports psychologist as well as other members of the support team.Ē

Also speaking of the potential removal of Double Trap from the Olympic cycle is Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Steve Scott. He said: ďMy move to Olympic Trap is going rather well so far. Itís a massive learning curve so Iím putting a lot of time in on the range to ensure Iím able to cope with the change both physically and mentally.

"British Shooting have been really generous at a difficult time for shooters - they have set targets and are willing to support and fund me for the whole year, which they didnít need to do. They clearly want to support all the shooters on the World Class Programme. 

ďThey've given me with a period in which I need to hit certain goals at international competition. Hopefully by the end of the year Iíll be able to achieve that goal. Itís now a case of putting enough time and effort in and making sure I have the correct preparation to eventually bring home more medals for GB." 

Earlier this year, the IOC Executive Board approved a major review project regarding gender equality in the Olympic Movement. To find out more about the ISSFís proposed strategy going forward, head to their website by clicking here.
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