The Scottish Qualifier took place at Bo’ness Recreation Centre on Sunday 28th October. There was a wide age range of competitors from Primary 6 to Secondary 6 and competitors came from all over Scotland; Inverness, Aberdeen, Jedburgh, Lockerbie... and we also had guests from Wales, Newcastle and the Isle of Man. The competition is split into three age classes with each class shooting a qualification round of 20 shots in 20 minutes. The competitors with the top eight scores then go through to the class final which is a knockout style competition, consisting of 2 rounds of five shots and then an ongoing series of 2 shots. After each of the two shots series the competitor with the lowest cumulative score is knocked out.
The first to compete were those in the Junior category (P6,P7 & S1). It was great to see representatives for a number of primary schools, - Albyn, Neilston, Kettle and Kirkpatrick Fleming. Some of the first timers showed some nerves, but all performed well. The top three in qualification were Kathryn Holden from the Isle of Man, Hazel King (Neilston Primary) and Finn Bryce (Albyn). In the Olympic style final Kathryn’s experience paid off as she held her nerve and took home the gold medal, 23 points ahead of Hazel in Silver. Finn maintained his third position from qualification to take Bronze, a fine performance for his first time at this event. The team from Lockerbie; Cameron Nairn (P7), Euan Dodd (S1) and Jake McKill (S1) took home the gold in the team event.
In the intermediate category (S2 & S3) we saw a number of members of the British Shooting emerging talent squad battling it out. The qualification event was won by Joshua Holden (Ballakermeen High School), second was Isobel MacTaggart (Jedburgh Grammar) and third was Anya Penderis (Dollar Academy). The final soon got under way with the top athletes chopping and changing positions in a tightly fought and nerve wracking battle for the top three spots. Isobel showed her nerves of steel and consistently shot well prevailing over the other competitors to win by 6 clear points. The contest for Silver and Bronze positions was closely fought between Nicola Coggle and Elspeth Wardman, with Nicola easing ahead to take silver. Great to see the excellent camaraderie and sportsmanship between the competitors in the age group.
The last event of the day was the senior competition (S4, 5 & 6), with two teams; RGS Newcastle and Forres Academy, seeking to qualify for the National finals which will be held at Stoke Mandeville early in 2019. In the qualifying round there was some very good shooting with three competitors shooting over 170/200 - Conall Evans and Lucy Evans (both Forres Academy), and Emilia Faulkner (Hutchison Grammar). The final was very tense with competitors dropping and rising to make an exciting, classic final. Carolyn Dickson (RGS Newcastle) took the bronze medal position leaving Conall and Emilia to fight it out for the top two spots. At this point both were tied on equal scores, so it all came down to the final shot. With clapping and noise levels rising, as is now customary in high end finals, the two athletes rose to the occasion. After theses final two shots both Conall and Emilia were still tied on a score of 212, which then led to a head to head round of one single shot. The judges took a wee bit of time to announce the result as the targets had to be re-checked for the highest scoring shot. Conall won the gold by a whisker, and Emilia settled for a silver, losing out by millimetres.
In the senior team event, Forres Academy (Conall and Lucy joined by Peter Cannard) took gold ahead of the RGS Newcastle team (Carolyn Dickson, Charlotte Currie and Lauren Robson), qualifying the team for the UK final in January.
Many thanks to the organisers and support team who helped to pull the day together and make it such a success. A good day was had by all – next year I hope that we will see greater participation in the event and also a warmer sports hall!
Report & Photos by Tim Liddon