When I was a keen, competitive horsewoman I was a great follower of form amongst the different classes; so it’s no wonder I’m enthusiastic about some of the blistering talent who are our Olympic hopefuls for next year and as you too may be as curious, this month I have profiled another female shooter who’s one to watch out for.
One discipline that has always eluded and challenged me, it may be for you too, is Olympic Skeet. What is that last peg all about – you need to be as quick as lightening to nail that target!
On my quest to find out who has been shooting it well enough to be in the running for a place for 2012 I ran into Sian Bruce from Dundee, Scotland, and here is a little bit of what I managed to find out about this viper-like teenager!
Name – Sian Bruce
Age – 18
Disciplne – Olympic Skeet
How long have you been shooting? 10 years. I was introduced to shooting by my dad; I shot Sporting for a while and had some lessons with Dennis at Auchterhouse in Scotland. I started shooting Olympic Skeet at 14 after some friends invited me to have a go. I only really went along because I didn’t want to be left on my own!
When did you realise you had a talent?
I suppose after a few months by which time I’d shot my first selection shoot well so decided to stick at it.
Who has influenced your shooting career most?
The Chinese Olympic Skeet shooter Shan Zhang – her 200-straight was awesome, she is a legend. Everyone is really nice but I have a lot of respect for Shan – especially as she beat all the men to Olympic gold in Barcelona, in 1992!
What has helped you get to the level you are at now?
Umm, I would say the support from my friends and family and a lot of practice, which I try to do in any free time I have, up to two or three times a week.
My mum and dad have helped me so much and have been instrumental in getting me to shoots and Scotland and its sporting organisations have offered me great support with my shooting.
Also, I’m sponsored by Krieghoff, I shoot a 28” K20 – a 20-bore. Krieghoff has been really supportive and was brilliant when my gun broke recently; they had a replacement with by the next morning, so thanks to them and Alan Rhone.
I don’t actually have a cartridge sponsor – but I prefer Hull 9s and Gamebore 24g 9s. I am also recognised by and get help from Sport Scotland; it helps me pay for flights and entries abroad.
Mastering the technique in OS takes determination and practice. How much determination and how much practice?
A lot of both! I think the standard has got better and better so you have to get better and better too.
When will you know whether you’ll go to the London games or not?
Elena Allen is Britain’s number one at the moment and Pinky Le Grelle is just as good. I need to get out there winning to be in with a chance of performing at the 2012 Games.
If I do get to go, although realistically I think it will be Elena, I would be very nervous, but the build up is good experience and I’m sure there will be other opportunities ahead of me.
How will you prepare yourself for the unknown nearer the time?
Even if I don’t get to compete at the games it is likely I could be the reserve and if something did happen and I was called on to take part I know I would be terribly excited.
As for the preparation in case of that, well I don’t like to practise too much before an event.
Lots of women find being watched off-putting, how will you cope with the TV cameras from around the world watching your every shot?
Okay I think. I shot alright in Russia at the European finals with TV cameras pointing at me, so I kind of know what to expect and I’m not really bothered much – well except when they are right in my face.
What do your non-shooting friends think about the possibility of you taking part at the Olympic Games?
They think it’s really good and they all want tickets to come and watch me, even though half of them have no idea about shooting and aren’t really that interested they are still keen to support me, which is really nice!
I find that shooting takes up a lot of time and puts a strain on friendships. Through the Institute of Sport I use the gym three times a week and what with competing and travelling abroad and all the practice and training, it has been difficult, especially with all my school work recently, to be able to see much of my friends at all, but they do understand.
How will you deal with these distractions at the Olympics?
Well that’s where the distractions might help and keep my mind off other competitors and what they are scoring and then I know I can blot it all out when I’m on my peg ready to shoot.
So do you think women are as capable as men in the sport?
Oh yes definitely; the trouble is men shoot more in competitions; their score is out of 125. We only get to shoot 75 so the men have better all round scores.
What would you say is your strength?
I can blank everything out and just concentrate on what I’m doing.
What is your weakness?
I’m probably too nosey, well easily distracted – if someone was cheering or shouting on the next range I would probably want to know what about and why!
If you could give any advice to other shooters hoping to follow in your footsteps what would it be?
Don’t give up! Shooting is one of those sports where you can have an absolutely awful day and then it’ll be okay the next day!
It goes without saying that fellow shooters will be wishing you luck if you make it to the Olympics next year – do you have a lucky charm or do you think luck is more about the conditions?
I do like wearing my charm bracelet, but living in Scotland I’ve had to shoot in some pretty bad weather conditions, so I would probably be hoping that it was blowing a gale when I had to shoot!
An Olympic medal is an achievement beyond most people’s dreams, imagine that ribbon and medal being placed over your head now – how do you feel?
I can’t describe the feelings it stirs up but I won’t really know for sure ‘till it happens.
Do you have any other goals apart from the Olympic Games?
Last year I won the Europeans as a Junior, while I’m still a Junior – the cut off is 21 – I would like to win another European and a World title.
So watch this space and we look forward to following Sian’s developing form over the coming year and wish her all the best with her goals in Olympic Skeet.