British Shooting, UK Sport, the EIS and the British Army have invested resources in a programme to identify and develop shooters from within the Army.
The Army Elite Sport Programme (AESP) was launched within the British Army using the Ł1.4 million it received, post the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, from G4S.
The programme, which started in 2014, has and continues to support rifle and pistol athletes who have demonstrated potential to develop into high quality ISSF athletes. Based predominately in Surrey, programme athletes enjoy regular access to training and competition opportunities supported by high quality coaching and sport science provision. The aim is to identify and develop talented soldiers capable of progressing onto the GB Academy Programme to deliver medals in 2020 and beyond.
The AESP has attracted support and acclaim from senior figures in the UK. Rod Carr, Chair of UK Sport, said: "The British Army has a rich tradition of supporting athletes and our experience tells us there will be personnel out there with the potential to be Olympic medallists but up until now they may not have had the opportunity to connect with the right sport or have the necessary support network to succeed."
The Minister for Sport, Helen Grant MP, gave her firm backing to the initiative in wishing it every success. She said: "The Army has traditionally been a great source of top sporting talent but the new Army Elite Sport Programme will take this up a level and help unearth more Olympic stars of the future. The chance to represent Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Games is a fantastic opportunity for our Army personnel and I am sure that this partnership between UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and the British Army will be a great success."
Not only does the Elite Army Shooting Programme identify and nurture talented shooter from within, it connects with the Talent Pathway and GB Academy Programme to support coaches and athletes on their journey to success.
AESP Shooting athlete, Ian Jack, appreciates the support, he said: “To have the Army investing in us is a huge benefit. My scores have gone up over the last three months and I have just set a new personal best in Air Pistol. Having this support takes the pressure off. I have all the equipment I need and that means I can focus on the task in hand.”