Target pistol shooters in the UK have been given a boost after it was announced the Tunnel Target Sports Centre is to be reinstated with Section 5 status.
The news means that the facility, based in Dorset, can now be used by British Shooting’s World Class Performance team as we get ever closer to Rio 2016.
In the year leading up to London 2012, the Tunnel was an invaluable training facility for Team GB pistol athletes, in particular for Bunny Bunclarke and Gorgs Geikie, 2012 Team GB Paralympian and Olympians respectfully. But after the Games ended, it was revealed the Tunnel would lose its licence to host pistol training.
Gorgs, who now works as a development activator for British Shooting, was absolutely devastated when she found out the Tunnel would lose its Section 5 licence three years ago. She explained: “Being able to train at the Tunnel meant I could train regularly, similar to my International competitors at the Olympic Games.
“This was why it was such a disappointment when the centre’s Section 5 approval wasn’t renewed following London 2012. The fact that the licence has been reinstated is very exciting news for cartridge pistol shooting in Great Britain.”
John Leighton-Dyson, GB Pistol Coach, said: “Not only does this benefit those in the south-west of the country, it provides excellent facilities and opportunities for professional training for the national team.
Margaret Thomas, GB Ladies Pistol Coach and 1988 Olympian, said: “We have only one other venue in the UK, and it is sometimes out of service, leaving Team GB with no-where to train, so this is great news.”
Hamish McInnes, Chief Executive of British Shooting thinks the announcement is vital for the sport’s long-term Talent Pathway. He said: “When the Tunnel lost it’s Section 5 status in 2012, it left our pistol shooters with only one training base in the UK. We are always looking to increase the number of world-class UK training facilities, and after many discussions with the Home Office, we are delighted to have this positive outcome.
Richard Clist, owner of the Tunnel, said: "The team at the Tunnel are delighted that Section 5, has been reinstated. We are looking forward to supporting British Shooting and the GB Team from now into the future."
James Marsh Brown, Chief Executive of Disability Shooting Great Britain, said: “DSGB and British Shooting have been working together with the Home Office to get Section 5 authorisation at the Tunnel and we are delighted for the outcome. The DSGB athletes as well as the staff, are over the moon and it’s now time to get some great training in.”
Air Pistol remains an unrestricted Olympic and Paralympic discipline for men and women available to all nationally.