Welsh success at British Finals
The shooting range at Stoke Mandeville Stadium was abuzz with excitement on Wednesday 22nd January when Amber Pearn was crowned the British Shooting Schools Pistol National Junior Champion and the Howell’s Team of Amber Pearn, Abi Smart and Alberta Green, all in Year 8, won the Junior team competition.
Their journey to the National Finals started at the Welsh Championships held in Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, Ffairfach, Carmarthenshire on 31st October last year. The team of three won the Junior competition, which is for boys and girls in years 6, 7 and 8, with a score of 461 and earned a place at the National Team Final. In the individual competition, Amber won the gold medal and Abi the bronze, qualifying both for the National Individual Final.
Across Great Britain, other shooting athletes competed during October and November at 5 regional competitions in England and at the Scottish Championships. From the 7 competitions, 24 athletes would qualify for the National Individual Final and 8 teams for the National Team Final. In total 281 individuals and 37 teams competed to win a place.
The team worked hard over Christmas and New Year training at the Welsh National Training range in the Sport Wales National Centre. They all met at the competition venue the day before for pre-event training and range familiarisation.
The day of the competition dawned and the reporting time, 9am, did feel a little early for some of the athletes. The Howell’s team had been allocated 10am as their start time. After reporting they lodged their pistols in the armoury and did a warmup routine and then waited for the start, watching, with a little trepidation, the first group of Junior athletes complete their 20 shots.
The competition is shot on targets that automatically score the shot and shows it on a screen in front of the athlete. This is great for spectators as they can see how well everyone is shooting. The 10am detail had the last of the individual competitors and at the end we knew Schools Pistol Championships that Amber had qualified, in joint first place, for the individual final that would see the top 8 athletes compete in a 24-shot knock-out final to decide who would be Champion.
We had to wait to see which team would win as there was a further detail at 10.30. At the end of that detail the scores were posted on the board but there was no team ranking list. This left parents adding up and comparing scores and after the math had been done, they were fairly sure that Howell’s had won the team competition, but would have to wait for the formal announcement.
The Individual Final
The individual final for the top 8 athletes is run exactly the same as at the Olympics. They have 5 minutes to fire unlimited sighting shots, after which they turn to face the crowd and are individually presented by the announcer. After this the competition starts. After the first 5 shot series Amber was in the lead, but only by 0.2 points, after the second series this had switched and she was in 2nd place by 0.2 points. From this point on the athletes shoot 1 shot in a time limit of 50 seconds and after every 2 shots the athlete with the lowest total score is eliminated from the final. After 12 shots Amber had regained the lead by 0.3 points, this was looking to be a great final for the spectators. Amber remained in the lead, gradually increasing the difference all the way through, and after 24 shots she was 6.6 points ahead of the silver medallist. Amber had won gold with a score of 232.8, a fantastic score.
It was time for the presentations and to find out if the parent’s math had been correct. The British Shooting Schools Pistol Championships is organised by Gorgs Geikie who is an Olympian having represented GBR in pistol shooting at the 2012 London Games. The Individual Junior gold medal and trophy was presented by Margaret Thomas, also an Olympian having represented GBR in pistol shooting at the 1988 Seoul Games. As well as a great achievement for Amber to win the Junior National Championship it was also a great experience to meet 2 Olympians.
Now it was the presentation of the team medals and trophy. Yes, the math had been correct, the Howell’s team of Amber, Abi and Alberta had won gold with a score of 487, 26 points more than they shot at the Welsh Championships, which goes to show that hard work and training does pay off! Overall a fantastic day for Howell’s, and all three girls have committed to sticking together and train for the qualification later this year to try to win a place in the 2021 National Final. They will move to the Intermediate class for pupils in years 9 and 10. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to hearing more.
A full report about the National Final by British Shooting can be viewed by clicking HERE.