Mitchell Brooker-Smith and exam nerves

Mitchell heads to the range to shake off the stress after his first GCSE.

The season is now over, and a month on from taking the junior gold medal at the British Shooting Grand Final, I’ve had a lot to think about, as well as many other commitments to fulfil.

My 2019 season certainly ended on a high at Fauxdegla Shooting Ground, but after that I decided to put the gun away for a while and focus on preparing for my first real GCSE exam.

This first exam was English Language; thankfully that’s a subject I don’t struggle with, but during my preparation I was surprised how much it affected me mentally. I had always looked at other students and wondered why they got so stressed about exams.

Of course I understood they’re important, but students were panicking as if it was the defining point of their lives. I just couldn’t understand it – but my time was coming!

During my preparation I felt reasonably confident, I was predicted C grade at minimum so, in theory, I had nothing to worry about. When the long-awaited day finally came it was an entirely different feeling. Everyone in my year group looked pale, and no-one said much to each other; we were feeling the nerves.

When we were invited into the exam hall everyone remained close, like a flock of sheep. We gently nudged each other, no-one wanting to be the first to go in. I sat down at my desk and the exam officer said we could start. My hand was quivering as I put pen to paper but I was able to snap out of it enough to complete the exam.

After success at Fauxdegla, Mitchell has been concentrating on school work

Thinking about it afterwards, I was amazed how a few pieces of paper could make me feel so nervous. It reminded me of when I first started competitive shooting – when I use to wonder how a small orange disk could have such a psychological effect on me. Still, what’s done is done. I tried my best, and all I can do now is wait for my results.

With the exam completed, along with some extra pieces of coursework, I was able to treat myself by getting back on the range! Normally when the season ends for the Olympic disciplines, people go and shoot another discipline to get a break from the competitive side of the sport.

I’m quite happy staying with Olympic Skeet and shooting a few leisurely rounds. That way I’m keeping my eye in ready for the 2020 season, but I’m still having fun without needing to shoot something else.

Next season is approaching fast and the preparation has already begun. I’ve got some goals in mind for what I would like to achieve in 2020, as well as entering competitions I have never competed in before.

Sadly I won’t be entering the Malaga Grand Prix and the Cyprus Grand Prix as the early months of next year will be quite busy at school. But I still intend to shoot what I can – and win some more silverware whenever possible!

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