Island shooters well on target

SHOOTING is enjoying success at many levels in the island.

SHOOTING is enjoying success at many levels in the island. Competitive shooting is divided into four basic disciplines, pistol, clay, small-bore rifle and full-bore rifle; this article will deal with the last two.

The Guernsey Small Bore Rifle Club owns an indoor range at Mont Arrive that offers 15- and 25-yard firing points and caters for eight shooters at a time firing exclusively .22 ammunition.

The club operates on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the winter months and enters postal leagues in the Hampshire area as well as arranging many varied internal competitions.

As is the case with all shooting disciplines, the sport operates under strictly-enforced safety rules and newcomers are allowed to shoot only under instruction until they have successfully passed a probation period.

The costs of any shooting discipline can be high, with a new jacket costing anywhere between £130 and £300 and rifles anywhere from a hundred pounds for a second-hand one up to £2,000 for a top-of-the-range new one.

Add to that the cost of a telescope and ear defenders and it can be seen that the sport can be quite expensive.

The cost of ammunition, however, is relatively low as a box of 50 rounds varies between £2.50 and £5.

The GSBRC acknowledges that it is relatively expensive to get started and has a variety of rifles, jackets and other equipment that the novice shooters can use until they decide whether to take up the sport on a long-term basis.

While many shooters are committed to small-bore rifle shooting and never venture onto the outdoor full-bore range at Fort Le Marchant, the indoor sport is seen as an ideal stepping stone for youngsters who wish to take up the exacting sport of full-bore target rifle shooting.

The Elizabeth College Cadet Force has a further .22 range at the college.

Shooting there is enjoying a period of enormous success thanks mainly to the effort of Rick Le Page who has taken the sport to a new level.

Youngsters are encouraged to take up the discipline and are assisted to gain coaching qualifications, a most-important part of the strategy that ensures naturally-good shots can pass on their expertise to others.

Anyone interested - either sex, from 13 years upward - is welcome at the GSBRC. More information from club secretary Martyn Mace on 255768.

The Guernsey Rifle Club is based at Fort Le Marchant and from March to October organises shooting every Saturday afternoon using full-bore rifles that fire .308-inch rounds.

Equipment costs are very similar to those for small-bore competition but the ammunition can cost anything from 10 up to 50 pence per round.

An afternoon competition could see as many as 36 rounds fired over three hours. The sport is extremely demanding as the firer has to calculate the strength and direction of the wind blowing across the range and alter the rifle sights accordingly, a real black art and one that takes several years to master, if at all.

The range has firing points at 300, 500 and 600 yards and with up to three shooters sharing each of the five targets, 15 people can be accommodated at any one time.

Every year the GRC organises spring and summer prize meetings that attract shooters from the UK and Jersey.

In May the club plays host to the National Rifle Association team selected to tour the Channel Islands, an event that gives local shots the chance to see some acknowledged experts in action.

The highlight of full-bore shooting is the pilgrimage to the annual Imperial Meeting at Bisley in Surrey where as many as 1,700 shooters from around the world compete for trophies that in the main originated in the 19th century.

Guernsey continues to excel in the sport and the honours board at the clubhouse contains the names of the many shooters who over the previous 100 years or more have claimed major titles.

Currently Elizabeth College is producing a good stream of young full-bore shooters and Nick Burton and Scott Benest have been selected for the prestigious Athelings Tour to Canada.

The latter has also accepted an invitation to tour South Africa with the Great Britain under-19 team.

Both of these shooters are likely to strengthen the GRC team in Bisley and the club is hopeful of an improved showing on the international front in 2005.

Rifle shooting has no upper age barrier and there are currently several keen and capable competitors who are in their eighties.

Anyone wishing to learn more about full-bore rifle shooting or indeed any former shooter wishing to re-awaken his or her interest in the sport is asked to contact the GRC president, Peter Sirett, on 264786 or email at peter.sirett

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