Irish Olympic target shooting

Competitive vs. Recreational

One of the things that has come up in the aftermath of the Colours loss is the question of where the squad goes from here. That’s led in turn to a degree of soul-searching being needed by the squad members. It’s not an easy task. The problem is that there are different parts in this sport that suit different people; some go for the purely recreational and in fact they often get more of a kick out of other disciplines than 10m Air Rifle. Others, like me, get off on the challange of competitive shooting and training.

First of all, let’s set one thing to rest. There’s no ranking between the two. One is not better than another, except in your own personal viewpoint (and if there wasn’t a ranking in your personal viewpoint, you wouldn’t know which one you wanted to do). And you don’t get more fun from one than you do from the other because of some intrinsic quality of the approaches; you get more fun from one than the other because of some intrinsic part of your psychological makeup. Often you need to try both to figure out what you want. Over the past fourteen years, I’ve done the recreational side of things. I’ve shot rifle, pistol and shotgun, at ranges from six yards to a hundred yards and everything in between. I’ve plinked, I’ve shot competitively, I’ve done admin, I’ve trained and coached and scored and run matches and run clubs and run associations and done pretty much everything there is to do in this sport. And I’ve learnt that it’s the competition in the olympic disciplines that pushes my buttons. I’ve also learnt that I can live with the idea of it not pushing the buttons of others without any effort whatsoever – so long as they don’t slow down or impede the stuff I want to do, at which point I can’t live with it at all and get very out of joint about it.

So the squad are now in a place that all of us in this sport find ourselves at some point. They have to chose whether they want to push themselves as far as they can in this sport or if they want to push themselves in some other avenue and just plink away in this one.

It’s not an easy choice.

And it’s not meant to be.

Those who would say “oh, this is easy, everyone’s doing fine, no problems here, let’s just have fun” are just blowing smoke up people’s rear ends, and frankly that does more harm than good. There are competitive people in collegiate sports. We see them every day. And we need to give them an avenue to go down in our sport or they go elsewhere. Equally, there has to be room for those who genuinely don’t want that, but do want to have fun.

At any rate, the course for the squad is clear enough. Those that want to shoot just for fun and put their back into their studies or other sports, there really is no stigma there. They’re the majority in the club to begin with, and more to the point, you can compete in this sport until your late seventies – you only get a short time to do well in college, so it may be the sensible thing to do.

But for those that want it, those that feel that burn that keeps pushing them back to the range to train that bit harder, that need to beat their last score, that urge to know that they’ve just put their all into a match and that they couldn’t have done any better – for them, there’ll be a path to go down as well and we’ll be there to help them along it. It won’t be sunshine and roses and smoke-filled colons along the way; but for the ones who want it, they wouldn’t have it any other way. And one day you’ll be reading about them in the newspapers.

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