4 Jan 2016 – The government’s latest sports strategy document doesn’t once mention shooting, despite the Great Britain Palma Team’s latest victory and other shooting sports successes.
Available on the Parliament website (PDF), the paper, titled Sporting future: a new strategy for an active nation, sets out the government’s priorities for sports over the coming years.
Not once in the 84-page document are the words “shooting”, “shoot”, “rifle”, “pistol” or “shotgun” mentioned.
The document itself focuses heavily on mass-market sports chosen for their broad appeal to spectators – mainly football – as well as Olympic sports and, to a lesser extent, other sports that concentrate on physical recreation. Both areas tend to rule out the vast majority of shooting disciplines.
Also mentioned are the ancillary benefits of mass-market sports, namely increased economic activity through TV channel subscriptions and stadium ticket sales, and helping UK diplomatic objectives by projecting soft power abroad.
It seems to UK Shooting News’ author that, despite the number of shotguns and firearms covered by FACs and SGCs being at a record high, fullbore disciplines may need to evolve spectator and TV-friendly variants to secure a higher public profile.
The clay pigeon world managed this successfully and Peter Wilson’s Olympic victory was watched by hundreds of thousands. Airgun and .22″ precision target rifle are recognised Olympic disciplines and the elite minority being groomed for Olympic glory has begun the long struggle to secure a higher profile for their sections of the shooting sports, signing young shooters up to commercial sponsorship and PR deals with fashion brands and the like.
Fullbore, in the meantime, is a comparative unknown outside our little world. Although fullbore TR is a Commonwealth Games discipline, the BBC infamously tried to ignore it altogether until in 2014 a group of enterprising shooters set up the Barry Buddon Broadcasting Corporation, a Facebook page reporting live results.
The only spectator-friendly fullbore discipline that comes to mind is Civilian Service Rifle, in both its historic and modern variants. You have physical activity (the rundowns), individual skill (a given) and, if you used falling plates or other reactive targets, a readily understood goal for each competitor or team.
Perhaps the NRA could build a temporary tiered spectator stand at the rear of Century ready for this year’s Imperial CSR matches?