It has been becoming more and more evident to me what an amazing feat it was for me to win an Olympic Quota place for London, 3 years ago this very month. And in an event that is very difficult to even train in my own country. But sometimes the harder a challenge is, the more rewarding and worth while it is! This year no GB lady pistol shooter qualified for the European Championships, close isn't quite good enough. This competition was where I won the first Olympic quota place a GB lady pistol shooter has ever done.
Now as I re-focus on my air pistol discipline, all roads for me lead to qualifying for the Air European Champs and final Olympic Quota place opportunities in March 2016. I've been seeking help from a psychologist who is really helping and I'm positive looking forwards.
National Paralympic Day has also been a focal point for me for this month, as I supported all the shooting clubs and grounds in the south of England who wanted to deliver an open day for people of all abilities over 25/26th July.
Training hard as ever but not quite hitting the scores. That sums up this month, as I came 2nd in our final trials for the European Champs. In order to be selected by British Shooting we need to attain a certain standard at specific competitions. No GB lady pistol shooter sadly qualified for the Euro's.
Aside from training I've been working hard to promote the sport in the south of England, taking shooting taster sessions to various county's Schools Games and Disability events this month. I want to demonstrate by example hardwork, dedication and commitment to achieving dreams. Always striving to do your best.
May 2015 culminated for me at the Channel Islands Open Pistol Competition, where I won three Silver Medals! There was still plenty of room for competition improvement, which has continued to fuel my enthusiasm and determination for perfection.
I stayed out in Jersey after the competition for a few extra days training, in order to make good use of the great shooting facilities. This was hugely beneficial due to the quality coaching and range facilities that the mainland UK doesn't have. This was slightly cut short as a result of the poor weather and ferry conditions. Whilst out in Jersey, I was asked to appear on BBC Radio Jersey, which was a great privilege. Jersey's sporting enthusiasm is ramping up, as the bi-annual Island Games prepare to descend on the island for the first time in 18yrs at the end of June.
The Channel Islands Open competition was a preparation event for the Games.
What a busy month has passed competing, training and working. Fun busy times. The opportunity to train Sport Pistol has been fantastic, and really makes me understand why I love this sport of shooting.
With selection for the European Championships getting ever closer and the opportunities for two GB qualification scores to be attained at two different competitions, time is of the essence. With very few competition opportunities there's no room for error which really puts the pressure on. Especially when all you want to do at the beginning of the season is develop your skills, and after this comes match tactics.
Our first domestic competition of the season was cancelled in March due to the range not functioning, (really not helpful!) so April saw my first two competitions at Bisley. Closely followed by another in Hannover Germany.
At this point (2 months into the season) my skills are getting honed in the right direction but there's now need for match tactics to come into play. At the end of the day, you only win on the day of competition-not at your training ground.
With focus on my main event, Sport Pistol, training is on schedule. GB Team selection has changed by British Shooting to needing two qualifying scores at different competitions to be eligible for selection to World Cups and the European Championships. These competitions are all before June/July.
Having done two training camps, and Friday / Saturday training to prepare for our first Trials matches at the weekend, you can understand my disappointment when these were cancelled due to the range breaking!
Trying to remain positive I look towards Hannover at the end of April, where the range will certainly work to German precision and I'll have an opportunity to gain one of the two qualifying scores needed by British Shooting.
It's at times like this I really appreciate the support of Helpful Holidays, when even my country is making life difficult for me to represent it!
I was very proud to be asked to attend the Devon Winter Schools Games recently, where I encouraged young people to work hard to achieve their dreams and raise their aspirations. People can't deny my dedication and commitment to training surely!?
My focus is turning to Sport Pistol, as the spring / summer time fast approaches. The British Squad have just received great news that the Tunnel Target Sports Center near Charmouth have been reissued with their licence for Section 5 pistols. This means I can train in Dorset with my Sport Pistol, rather than only at Bisley. This is fantastic news, as only with training do you improve and it was the Home Office didn't renew the Tunnel's Section 5 authority after the Olympics.
It's still tricky to shoot either at Bisley or the Tunnel as you need the right people present, but it's a start!
I'm looking forward to my first Sport Pistol competition this season at the end of March. This will be at Bisley.
(This picture was taken at the Aquatic Center in London, where I was there representing British Shooting at an Inspiring Women into Sport and Sports Jobs. An initiative supported/run by Clare Balding. An inspiring venue that brought back some fantastic memories of London 2012).
Doing it on the day, when it counts - that's what it's all about. Training is all about improving your physical ability and mentally delivering this ability when it matters. The British Pistol Club Championships were a prime example of my solid recent performance, finishing in 2nd Place on both days. Whereas the British Championships, not quite so much! But it's what you learn and how you move on. Trying too hard in competition is easily done, and doesn't help!!
The winter Air Pistol season is all good preparation for my preferred Sport Pistol event. Training has started with this and I'm really looking forward to what the season has in store.
October showed my hard work training over the summer is paying off. The Welsh Championships were held in Cardiff this month, where I shot the best I have for a while. I made a couple of mistakes which brought my score down and I was still just 2 points from the GB qualifying score needed for 2015.
My next big competition is in Luxembourg just before Christmas, which is also a GB qualifying competition. In preparation for this I'll be competing at Bisley a few times as good match practice.
I had the great pleasure last week of returning to Buda Farm in Chagford to visit the members of the Mid Devon pony club tetrathlon team, in their shooting training session. This was where I first learnt to shoot with Patrick and Pip Bugg. Therefore returning to help Patrick coach the talented local young athletes was such fun. I look forward to returning in the Christmas period to see their developments.
Training is stepping up a notch as I head into the winter (air pistol) domestic competition season. Assistance from my coach is helping me small step by small step improve my skills. I'm now starting to reap the rewards from the Physio sessions I started in the summer. Continued specific exercises are strengthening my body to increase my balance and therefore stability, to hold the pistol as still as possible.
I'm putting in the hard work and enjoying the benefits of improvement. Now as the winter continues I need to get competition tough. There are no prizes at home, but evidence of your ability that brings confidence.
Aside and supporting my training I have a new part time job with British Shooting, as the South Development Activator. A role where I can inspire and support other individuals/clubs/schools etc in all disciplines of shooting (rifle, pistol & shotgun). Working for the the same sport that I compete in is a great move, which comes with their support and my increased motivation (if that is possible!) to achieve.
The photo is a day I spent with Land Rover Experience, coaching after I had done my own training that day!
August has been a month where my training focus has been physical. Seeking a course of physio assistance, gym work and the great Dartmoor outdoors, with technical training as well. This time for me is similar to football pre-season, when it's ideal to address physical things before your focus turns to mainly technical & psychological aspects. September brings air and sport pistol trials matches for GB selection next year. So it's important to get off on the right foot towards an important 2015 pre Olympic year.