Target Sprint: Getting Ready
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- Last updated: 04/03/2020
Target Sprint started in Germany in 2013, through the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF). A standard format for UK/National events is for the competitor to run 400m, then shoot five, knock down targets, run another 400 m, then shoot five more, then a final 400m to a finish line. The shooting takes place at 10 metres from the standing position, and it’s all done with target air rifles producing 6ft/ lbs, fitted with dioptre sights The rifle is waiting in a rack at the firing point, so safety isn’t an issue, but with the target disc measuring 49.5mm for Nationals, and 35mm for International events, and the heart pounding after a fast sprint, it soon becomes clear that the task is anything but easy!
So, how do you get into the exciting world of Target Sprint, and just what’s involved in training for this increasingly popular discipline? Well, I caught up with top competitor Steph Cooper, to try and gain an insight into her highly competitive world.
Hi Steph. I know you should never ask, but how old are you, and when did you first start Target Sprint?
I’ve just turned 34, and I first shot the current format in July 2018.
Where are you based?
I shoot for Razzers Runners in Northchurch, & Altringham Pistol & Rifle Club in Altringham.
So what attracted you to the sport?
I went to Seoul on holiday a couple of years back, tried pistol shooting while I was there, and just loved it. I met a friend whose son happened to shoot Target Sprint, and I got talked into giving it a go. It’s all on the Manchester Facebook Group under North West Target Sprint, and I like the way you can be a quick runner, or a great shot, but to do well, you have to master both.
So, do you enter in a Ladies Class; is that how it works?
I shoot in the Senior Women’s class, but it’s all split according to age as follows:
Team- mixed gender/ same gender (team of 3)
How often do you practise?
I try and shoot twice a week at the moment, and practise Target Sprint itself once a month at Ashton-under-Lyne.
Sounds pretty dedicated. Tell us how this fits around work, and give us an insight into your approach overall?
Well, to be honest there’s a running joke, that by day, I am a business relationship manager for a high street bank, and in my spare time I am honing the skills of a traditional bank robber! The training schedule goes something like this:
Even though the two key elements are sprinting and shooting, there are three bits we train for: Shooting, Running and Transition. In the North West, we have one day a month in the Winter where we train together; mainly shooting related. But we also use this time to work on core strength and a bit of cross country for fitness, where precision work is key. Come the Summer, and it gets a lot more physical. On these days we train at East Cheshire Harriers, under the guidance of Doug Pepper (shooting) and Joanne Brown (sprinting and fitness).
Usually, the first part of the day is spent practising our shooting position, footwork etc. We practice on the knock down targets, perhaps a little speed shooting against the clock. This aspect really does vary though. I can remember one time Doug took the sights off, which made life interesting, but like he said, anything can happen in competition at least we will be prepared, despite how unlikely it would be. We then move onto transition training after this.
Transition training involves a warm-up initially and then we will do a sprint into the shooting area (varying distances) and either take one shot and run back or shoot until all targets are down and run back. These are all timed, as this is a crucial bit, being able to run in, take the correct position, control your breathing and shoot accurately. I’m not what you would call a classic sprinter, so I need an advantage somewhere!
After transitional work, it’s time for trackbased sprinting. This can be stride work, technique drills, intervals such as 30sec sprints, 30sec walks or perhaps 100metre sprint, 25 metre recovery etc. Another favourite is pyramid sprints (run 50 metres, walk back, run 100m, walk back, 200metre, walk back all the way up to 400 metres and then all the way back down to 50.
At the end of a typical training session, we have a run through of an event, so that we can put into practice what we have learnt and to see how our times and split timings compare with our last event. This time is also used to look at what we will do between now and the next session.
As we only get a day a month together, a lot of my training is done on my own, at my local gym three to four times a week, working on general strength. Stuff like squats, bench presses, shoulder work etc, although I do my core exercises every day before breakfast. I run three times a week, once with my local club Razzers Runners, a longer run at the weekend and I always do intervals or hills in an effort to increase my stride length on a midweek run; as I have tight hamstrings, I also try to fit in yoga.
I currently shoot two to three times a week at Altrincham RPC, where I practice position, speed and precision/shot development. Although Target Sprint introduced me to shooting, since taking it up and having some success, I have been spotted as having potential as a precision shooter. Since November, I have been coached by Paul Horbury, who has really developed my precision shooting potential further and I shall be competing in this sport too. Obviously, this additional training and coaching has made me a much better shooter and I am hopeful for another PB competing in Target Sprint next year!
Thanks Steph, and the very best of luck for next season.
For more information on this exciting new sport, check out the websites at www. targetsprint.com www.britishshooting.org.uk