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Prestonpans breathe new live into our sport

12 March 2013

Rifle shooting is the skill of projecting a missile at a target, an extension of ancient man throwing his stone at his intended meal. Over the centuries it developed into warfare and from warfare as always developed as a sport, which is what we have now.

Rifle shooting is the safest sport in the world, having the fewest recorded accidents in any sport. In all the years of Olympic history there has never been a shooting accident recorded in an Olympic Games. It is the most heavily legislated sport, yet is a sport almost anyone can take part in.

Over the years since 1996 the sport in East Lothian went into a slight decline with many clubs closing or amalgamating but recently has seen rejuvenation. Prestonpans Rifle Club is the only smallbore rifle club in East Lothian that the public have access to. It was founded in 1967 by a group of like minded people who were trying to promote their sport in their local area and has been on its present site ever since.

Over the years many members have come and gone, leaving their mark having mentored and guided others who now hold senior positions in the management of the club.

Like other clubs, membership was becoming elderly, and membership was dropping, Prestonpans in 2006 was down to 11 senior members, and no juniors, the loss of two more members would mean the club would have to close. The members decided to take action and went around the local libraries, shops and businesses, dropping off and having flyers displayed, this resulted with a sudden influx of interest, where both sexes were attending to try the sport, the membership of the club reached a point where they were able to have two senior teams in various local and national club competitions. An effort was also made to attract juniors into the club, by contacting schools and other associations involved with young people, this resulted in 11 juniors, making Prestonpans Rifle Club the strongest local club for junior shooters in the area. The club junior section was also supported locally by the Rotary Club of Tranent who part financed their competitions, also with a Cup and plaque, these are fervently shot for and well coveted by the youngsters.

The club itself had fallen into some disrepair due to much needed maintenance, so a weekend was put aside and almost every member turned up with paint and paint brushes, those with trades, joiners etc had the club looking like new over a weekend, An excellent show of camaraderie and a want to keep their club and sport going.

This led to the club approaching the Scottish Smallbore Rifle Association with a view to training some members as Range Conducting Officers and Club Instructors. Two adult members and two junior members went on the RCO and CI course in June 2012 which was run by SSRA Development Officer Kevin Holland. Although the two juniors were under 18 years old both are committed to the sport and very keen and both passed the course with flying colours, those two juniors are now on a par and exceeding the abilities of the skills of their peers, and senior members. This has been with the aid of the SSRA, Scottish Junior Coach Ian Thomson, who has kindly coached and mentored these two juniors to be the excellent sportsmen they now are. They are now invaluable to the club as every week they attend and give tuition to the other juniors, two very dedicated and very responsible young adolescents, a testimony that this discipline breeds care, responsibility and leadership, skills that will be put to use in other areas of their life. Both have since been chosen to shoot for Scotlandís Schools. The club then decided that as their equipment was very dated that we would apply for a Lottery Grant using the Awards For All scheme. In the application we detailed what equipment was required and sent of the application.

The application went for approval and was endorsed by Jim McIntosh at the SSRA, resulting in a grant in excess of £5,000 allowing the club to buy much needed mats, scopes, stands, jackets and rifles that can be altered to suit a junior

Prestonpans rifle club is now looking forward to continually offering a sport to the local community, a sport which all can take part in. Anyone interested in joining or trying the sport should make contact with Prestonpans Rifle Club through the website or through the webmasters of the SSRA or the LSSA.

Angus Paterson, Chair of and for Prestonpans Rifle Club, East Lothian.




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