Balerno and Currie Rifle Club have won their first shoulder-to-shoulder league title since 1997 after defeating Selkirk in their eagerly anticipated play-off match to be crowned champions for 2011/2012.
Controversy had surrounded the fixture as an organisational mix-up restricted the tie from being scheduled at an earlier date and, with that, enforcing an anxious five-month wait for the match to be played despite the last round of league fixtures having been completed in March.
However, the four representatives chosen to compete for the Capital club rose to the occasion and defeated their Borders opponents by 775 points to 768 at a neutral range in Pathhead.
The Lothian Smallbore Shooting Association’s shoulder-to-shoulder league title was brought home by the team consisting of Alasdair Horne, Sinclair Bruce, Ryan Bain and Gordon Buchan.
Club secretary Horne, who recorded a perfect 100 score in his first card, paid tribute to all those who had contributed over the course of the season and anticipates this year’s success could be a sign of things to come.
“I’m really proud actually,” Horne said. “All the way through the season we’ve had different club members shooting in the matches, and young members as well, so that is really encouraging. Selkirk are a really strong team, so we didn’t go in with massive confidence because we have been beaten by them before.
“But on the day, they were not as good as we expected and we didn’t even score our best, as we were all a bit rusty coming off the close season. “Before we went into the match, you could see just everyone sitting ready to go. We were all geared up with adrenalin but that’s the nature of finals.
“The fact that we have won it now means we can do it again. It’s about getting that confidence and showing that nobody is unbeatable. It wasn’t an aim (winning the championship) of the club a few years ago, but it most certainly is now, which is fantastic.”
The club is now seeing an influx of novices keen to test their ability on the range. With such vast numbers now appearing regularly through its headquarters on Curriehill Road, all-weekend sessions have now come into effect to cope with the demand. With the help of Scotland coach Sinclair Bruce and Gavin Walker, who has international experience as a rifle judge, Balerno and Currie is working hard to introduce new people to the sport and get them up and running.
With a greater awareness of the sport generated by live television coverage from this summer’s Olympics, an opportunity for the British public to view target shooting first hand was certainly a rare commodity.
Horne added: “We have got a lot of new people coming along now. We are overwhelmed with the amount of people who are now beginning to show an interest.
“Ten years ago, you would maybe get five or six new people a year. We’ve had five or six people per week and now have 44 people receiving coaching. We’ve asked other clubs how they cope, but they have simply said they don’t have those sort of numbers.
“I think there is less stigma now attached to the sport. People didn’t really want to think about shooting, but I think people have now seen it on telly with the Olympics and feel they would like to give it a go. If you type in shooting and Edinburgh into the internet, you will get Balerno and Currie coming up. We’ve got two ranges, coaching, kit which people can use, and the will to do it, so everything is there.”
Club captain Peter May echoed Horne’s comments and is also enjoying the club’s championship glory, as a member of the nine-person squad which contested the league over 13 gruelling fixtures across Lothian and Borders,
May said: “It’s quite an achievement and the club is going from strength to strength with new members coming in, so that has proved very fruitful.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t available for the decisive match and you have to remember there were a lot of other regular shooters who got us into this position in the first place. We’re looking forward to competing this season and building on the success this year.”