THE Isle of Man Shooting Club will be represented at the Olympics with former club chairman and Stewart Watterson an international jury member at the Games’ target shooting events.
A former Commonwealth Shooting Championship winner and Commonwealth Games medallist, Stewart has become a regular presence at major events worldwide in recent years as an International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) judge.
Castletown resident Watterson explained last week before departing for the ultra modern, temporary shooting venue at Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich: ‘I took the difficult but worthwhile, decision some years ago to stop competing and switch to officiating.
‘That meant starting at the bottom with courses to gain a judge’s licence and then working my way up the ladder to add experience and higher licence categories.’
Since 2006 Stewart has held a category A licence and was rifle jury chairman at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games that year.
‘That was the last senior job I did on a rifle jury’ he added.
‘Since then I seem to have spent all my time working in classification, the jury responsible for everything to do with scores and results.
‘A typical event begins with signing off the official start list and ends with signing off the official result.
‘In between it’s a non-stop job of checking, supervising and resolving any issues, protests or whatever that arise.’
The Olympic shooting events are being staged at a purpose-built, but unfortunately, temporary facilities alongside the Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich.
‘By ‘temporary’ read £40million worth of temporary’ said Stewart.
‘The ranges are simply stunning. We [the ISSF] hosted a World Cup test event at the venue in April and, apart from the fact London was freezing cold at the time, the stars of the sport were over the moon with the quality of the Olympic venue.’
Stewart and his colleagues began work a few days before the Games started by checking and testing the banks of electronic targets installed on the 10- metre, 25-metre and 50-metre ranges, together with the 3,000 seater finals hall.
‘Events like the Olympics don’t use paper targets any more.
‘The Woolwich site has 205 acoustically based electronic targets that provide an instant result for the shot as soon as it is fired.
‘Scoreboards are updated instantly -an excellent advantage for the spectator.
‘This has been an important development for the sport. Everything has to be TV friendly and present a visual spectacle these days.’
The London shooting events have attracted the widest spread of entries for an Olympics:
‘We’ve got 108 countries represented here” added Stewart.
‘The actual numbers of competitors are governed by a complex system of quota places that have to be won over previous years and are fixed at 390.
‘This is less than half of what we had for the test event, but the real difference is not the numbers, it’s the massive focus of attention the Olympics creates.
‘There’s immense pressure on everyone: competitors and officials alike. It’s just different to anything I’ve ever experienced in sport before.’
On the conclusion of the Olympics, Stewart has three weeks back home in Castletown before returning to London and starting all over again for the Paralympics.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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