At High Lodge on 18 June, few people expected to see an Olympian taking on the Sporting targets of the Clay Shooting Classic. But Steve Scott is no ordinary Double Trap shooter.
Having entered his teenage years helping his dad run a shooting ground, from making tea to filling traps and driving the Land Rover across the private land years before he was allowed to earn license, he then did work experience at West Kent Shooting School and focused on Double Trap by watching someone who is much better known his Sporting prowess today, as Steve explained: “Looking back now, my dad had great foresight when he told me to go to WKSS and learn from the great shooters there. George Digweed was my idol and when I was working there at 16 or 17, he was shooting Double Trap. I never knew about the discipline, but he asked me if I wanted to have a go and and I got the bug for it. I thought ‘I’ll give this a go properly’ but I shot about 20 out of 50 and thought it was rubbish. I was telling Jamie Brightman or George about it and they told me to get myself a Trap gun and give it another go. I then shot about 45 out of 50 and thought ‘Ah yes, this is good’. Just by having a bit of extra height on the gun made difference. George then started looking after me and driving me to selection shoots and I just got better and better.”
Even though Steve was close to the greatest shooter of all time for many years, he largely taught himself during those early years, and even reached the Olympics without much focused tuition. He said: “Going to Beijing was a massive eye-opener for me. At the time I was self taught and during my first year internationally, I won gold at the European Championship and was in the gold-medal-winning team. My second event was a World Cup and I also won gold in the team, then I won another gold as part of the team elsewhere. But after Peter [Wilson] won gold at London 2012, I was still self-taught but realised I can only take myself so far without seeking a coach that I believe could better me. I went up to Pete and said ‘can I borrow Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum?’ and he generously did and about two or three months later I went to Al Ain for first World Cup after Olympics with him.”
Working with the Sheikh has seen Steve perform at his highest and most consistent level in his career. He won the Commonwealth Games in 2014, won silver at a World Cup in 2015, won at the Baku European Games, then won gold at the World Cup Final – being the only British male to do so in its history with the ISSF (when George Digweed shot at the World Cup Final, it’s the only competition he has ever come dead last in, such is the difficulty of the event).
While this year Steve has struggled to break into the top six and on to the medal stages, he is consistently no more than one or two targets away from the semi-final, or has been beaten out of the next round by a shoot-off. But he is still ranked in the top five in the world and is capable of putting on a show on the biggest stage. This is why he is not going to the Azerbaijan World Cup (which will be reported on in the next issue), and he took a moment to relax at the Classic Sporting and the World English Sporting Championships. But after a few days off from serious shooting, Steve was back at Nuthampstead shooting the DT targets and focusing on the countdown to Rio. Steve said: “Every Olympian in Brazil got there through hard work and graft, and they are all capable, but in terms of my performance, if I’m able to keep my nerves together I can do well. Then after the Olympics I think I’ll have a break for a few months, but I’ll definitely be sticking at Double Trap. I’ll want to defend my Commonwealth Games in Australia, and I’m going back to the World Cup Final to defend my title there. I’ve told myself I’m not allowed to get a new superbike before Rio. I used to race motocross when I was younger and I’ve had a bike all my life but I know they’re not the safest of machines, so I’ll treat myself after Rio.”
Of course, Steve isn’t the only Double Trap shooter representing Britain, as Tim Kneale will also travel to the Olympic Games. And the two friends are fully aware of each other’s great medal-winning potential. Steve said: “Tim is shooting well at the moment. Obviously he holds world record and that’s something you cannot question. To shoot 148ex-150 in this discipline is unreal. On his day he can take home one of those three medals from Rio. The Double Trap team is a really friendly bunch and if anyone ever wanted to come join us at Nuthampstead, or if they see us at a ground, I hope they will come up and say hello, and perhaps learn more about the discipline.”
This is important to Steve, Tim and the rest of the DT shooters. There is talk that the discipline will be replaced in the ISSF calendar after Rio, but Steve is hopeful that it will definitely be in Tokyo 2020. It would be a shame to lose the event at the Olympic level because it is the discipline in which Britain has boasted the most success, with Olympic gold medals from Richard Faulds and Peter Wilson. Steve is one of Britain’s biggest medal hopes and is fully capable of winning a third for the DT squad – all eyes will be on him today.