Mitchell Brooker-Smith heads out for his first international competition. But will the tempestuous conditions at the Malaga Grand Prix throw him off his game?
In January I competed in the Malaga Grand Prix. It was my first international competition, so I was really keen to start shooting.
My training was going well. I had got over a tough month of poor results, and was feeling ready to compete again. I trained hard, making sure I was confident on every target I would be shooting in the Grand Prix so that there would be no negative vibes while competing.
I’ve learned that one of the worst things you could possibly do when shooting is doubt yourself; you have to be 100 per cent confident that you are going to break every target that comes out of the trap.
When the day finally came, we arrived at Bristol airport in the early hours of Thursday 17 January to embark on our adventure to Malaga. Bringing my gun to the airport felt uncomfortable.
I showed the police all the legal documents to prove the shotgun belonged to me, but I have always felt nervous when talking with the police. Looking back now it was not that bad. Everything felt alien to me, as I had never competed abroad, and it was my first time on a plane.
The plane trip was great. I had always wondered what it was like to travel on a plane, and I’m pleased to say that I loved it! We collected my gun from Malaga airport and headed straight for the hotel. After we got unpacked, we went to the shooting ground to get a feel for what the range was like. Club Tiro de Jarapalo is a great range, and the people who manage it are extremely welcoming.
The next day I went back to the shooting ground for the official training. The weather was kind to us on the Friday. The sun was beating down above us, which provided very comfortable conditions to shoot in. In training I shot 69 ex-75, and had the privilege of shooting with Johan Birklykke, the 2017 European champion, and Des Davies, who was Commonwealth champion in 1998.
As happy as I was with my score in training, that’s not what I was trying to achieve. When training on a new range I like to figure out my hold points, as finding the hold points in training means more broken targets in competition.
Day 1 of the competition came, and I was so ready for it. We arrived at Jarapalo at 9am on Saturday 19. The fog came down on the Spanish mountains, which made it difficult to see at the beginning – that’s why I had a bit of an iffy start on the first day, shooting 20 ex-25. I managed to pick up the pace afterwards, the fog cleared, and I then shot two 23s and a 24.
On the last round of the competition I had a bit of a wobble. The wind had picked up, and started pushing the targets all over the place! I managed to battle through and shoot a 20, but I still wasn’t pleased. 110 ex-125 is a decent score, but I felt I could have done better. I tried my best, and that was the outcome.
Unfortunately, I lost out in the shoot-off for sixth place in the Junior Men’s final. I kept it going for a good while – I was just a bit unlucky towards the end. However, there were many positives to take away from Malaga, so I left with my head held high.
The experience was amazing! I met so many great shooters. I can’t wait to compete at Jarapalo again in the not too distant future.
Mitchell Brooker-Smith is a promising young British shooter. He is 15 years old and comes from Gloucestershire. Having started shooting at the age of 12, he now shoots Olympic Skeet for England.