Mitchell Brooker-Smith takes positive lessons from a frustrating Junior World Cup deep in the German forest
Arriving home from the Junior World Cup in Suhl, I have much to reflect on. The competition was filled with highs and lows, but it was a great learning experience I will never forget.
My grandparents, my mum and I drove to Germany. We took a ferry over to Dunkirk and had a long drive through Europe. Surprisingly, the drive didn’t feel boring or exhausting. It was a peaceful experience observing the sceneries of northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. It took us 7 hours from Dunkirk to reach our hotel in Suhl, Germany, overflowing with pine trees.
The next day, we dropped my gun off. The shooting ground was like a huge square cut out of a forest that makes way for a shooting ground. It had everything there – shotgun facilities, rifle, pistol and even target sprint! We took a look around.
It was nice to see so many different people from different nations brought together by one event. I found the British team shading themselves from the weather in a marquee.
Another day passed and we were getting ready for the official training. The squads were decided by making one nation’s team into one squad – all six British boys were put together. We were all limited to two training rounds, so we didn’t get to experience what three of the five ranges felt like. All we could do is have confidence and take each target as it came on the day.
I felt nervous when I first woke up on competition day – that was to be expected for my first major event. I just had to be brave and do what I normally do.
When we arrived at the shooting range, there was a long wait until my first round of the day, but I kept myself occupied by practising coping strategies to relax me. I started strong, shooting a 25-straight followed by a 24 and a 23, ending on 72 ex-75.
On day two, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a single gust of wind – perfect weather for breaking targets. I started strong with a 23, keeping me in a good position going into the last round.
When it came to the last round, however, stepping out into the range deep in the forest felt claustrophobic and compact. I shot a 21 on my last round, one target away from earning a place in the final! I was disappointed for a bit – to come so close does hurt, but now I know what to do in a situation like that next time.
I won’t let the background faze me again. At the end of the competition I finished 14th (on countback) on a score of 116 ex-125. While writing this, I would like to congratulate teammates David McNeil for making the final and Olly Harrison on winning bronze.
I also have some exciting news – in September 2019 I shall be representing Great Britain again at the European Championships in Lonato, Italy. I feel confident I will bring a medal back for our country.
I look forward to keeping you up to date with my progress leading up to this event and keeping you informed of all the other competitions I have lined up!