Onwards and upwards with Mitchell Brooker-Smith

Mitchell Brooker-Smith is laid low by a bug – but he bounces back to pick up another trophy

Mitchell practising on the Skeet ranges at the NCSC at Bisley

This year has been very kind to me so far. I’ve had a great season without any disruption, either to the events I’ve been able to compete in, or in achieving some successful results. At least, that’s until I had to pull out of the third British Shooting shotgun series due to an illness, which was very disappointing.

I arrived at Doveridge with my grandparents for the official training on 3 August. The sun was beating down on Derbyshire, and it was a pleasant afternoon to prepare for the next couple of days.

At this point I didn’t feel unwell and I was shooting normally. I felt ready to compete for a qualifying position in the British Shooting Grand Final in September.

The next day I woke up feeling the complete opposite. I felt extremely light headed, my stomach was heavy and sickly. I tried to carry on for a while, in the hope it would pass and I would feel well again – but it didn’t happen.

On the range I felt even worse, and I was even struggling to hold my gun without my arms shaking After a chat with my family I decided to forfeit the competition and concentrate on being fully recovered for the Home International in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. 

A week later I was feeling much better. I came to the conclusion that I may have been suffering with exhaustion from the busy few weeks leading up to this. Whatever it was, I had to put it behind me; I needed to keep moving forward and focus on the Home International.

We travelled to Northern Ireland a week later. Our plan was to take a ferry from Holyhead in North Wales to the Republic of Ireland, then drive through the country into Northern Ireland.

When we arrived, we were one of the first of the England team members to check into the hotel, closely followed by my good friends Lee Bowditch and Matthew French, who I spent two days training with before the big event. 

Competition day finally arrived, and I felt more than ready to get out there and shoot. This year’s Home International was an important competition for me as I didn’t feel I had reached my potential the year before.

When my turn finally came, I started well with a 23 ex-25 and felt determined to continue this good performance throughout the day. I was in a squad with some lovely people, including fellow team member and Junior shooter, Edward Medforth, and my friend from team Wales, Mike Mayers. 

I was able to hold my form and shoot a 25-straight and a 24. I wasn’t aware that for half the day I was level with Scotland’s David McNeil for first in Juniors. It went down to the last round. Normally I don’t do the maths until I’ve finished shooting, but this time as I went into the last round I knew I had to shoot a 23 or above to take the Junior High Gun.

That last round dragged on until 7pm and the light was dropping dramatically. We were both at a disadvantage, and it came down to who adapted best to the situation.

In the event I was able to keep it together and finish on 95 ex-100, taking first in Juniors as well as first place in the Junior team event with Edward Medforth.

Congratulations to David McNeil who finished with 93 ex-100, England’s Jeremy Bird for overall High Gun, and Emily Hibbs for Ladies High Gun. I would like to thank Bill and Mark from Dungannon CTC for putting on a welcoming event. Northern Ireland and the Republic are definitely two of my favourite places and I hope to return.

All my attention is now focused on the European Championships in Lonato, Italy. My preparation is going well so far, and I’m feeling really motivated to achieve my dream of winning a medal at a world class event.

Read my column next month to see how I get on.

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