British Shooting have been running a Schools air pistol championships for a number of years and in 2021 decided to delve in to the world of Rifle. The competition is aimed at encouraging young people into the world of target shooting and is a grass roots start into these fantastic and competitive disciplines.
Those that enter are split into regions and represent their school or college. Once entered they were posted their competition targets that had to be shot according the rules under the appropriate supervision from qualified people. Shooting either 6yds Springer or Pre charged Sporter class air rifles or 10m Pre charged sporter class air rifles.
The athletes then took photographs of each of their targets and submitted these for scoring using an online system.
Once scored the top athletes from each region automatically qualified for the finals event with the remaining places being taken up by the next highest scorers nationally.
The finalists were then invited to enter the finals which were held on 9th February 2022 at Chase Leisure centre in Cannock Staffordshire.
The finals proved to be an exciting event with the 6yd finalists shooting shoulder to shoulder with the scores from these heats deciding the medals and positions.
Shooting 6yds representing The Mountbatten School in Romsey were Edward Elliott and Karla Elliott achieving 10th and 12th respectively in the Intermediate age class. Shooting in the same age class representing Cantell School was Joe Biondani who achieved 16th place. Shooting in the Senior age Class representing Itchen College (Prev Mountbatten School) was Bethan Cowley achieving 9th position. These are national results and great performances from these athletes who have only shot a few times at this level and it was their first major target shooting competition.
In the 10m Senior Class representing Eastleigh College (Prev Mountbatten School) was Matthew Batchelor. The 10m competition was made up of 2 heats with the top 8 qualifying for an Olympic style final. The Olympic style final requires the athletes to shoot a series of 5 shots followed by another 5 shots where the starting table is determined. After these first 2 series Matthew headed up the table with just 0.3 points ahead of his nearest competitor. Then from this point after every 2 shots the lowest place athlete is knocked out. Matthew headed the table for the next series gaining 0.3 points on 2nd place. After the next 2 shots the table changed with Matthew dropping to 3rd place 0.8 points behind the 1st place athlete and 0.1 points below 2nd place. Matthew then stepped up after the next 2 shots shooting a 9.0 and 10.0 pulled back the 1st place position with a lead of 2.9 points. Matthew then held the lead until there were just 2 athletes remaining with 4 points separating them. Anything could happen at this point and with the 2nd place athlete in the lane next to Matthew and being a left eye shooter they were not only on a shoulder to shoulder shoot out they were actually facing each other.
After the first shot Bethany Smith in 2nd place who qualified for the final with the same score as Matthew pulled back .2 points. You then saw the athletes smile to each other before the last shot was taken. After the final shot Matthew had retained the top spot winning the senior final and being announced as the British Shooting Schools Senior Champion 2021-2022. As the athletes stepped back from the firing points to their chairs we saw Matthew and Bethany embrace in a hug. True friends from start to end.
Both Matthew and Bethany are also members of the Scout National Rifle Squad. Both athletes often competing against each other in competitions. Both competed at the ESSU Sporter Competition at the end of 2021 in Bisley where Matthew also picked up the Male ESSU Sporter Champion Title.
All of the Southampton Athletes are Scouting Members at 21st Romsey (Nursling & Rownhams) Scouts and Draco Explorer Unit run at Nursling Southampton.
Steve Batchelor and Tony Moles attended to support the athletes along with the athletes parents. Steve and Tony both congratulate all the competitors who took part in the competition.
They applaud the professional and cheery athletes who trained at 21st Romsey for their conduct and performances and personal achievements at the event. A big well done to all.