Borders shooting stars qualify for national pistol championships without leaving home

Shooting stars Isobel and Tom McTaggart are going great guns after firing 4.5mm rifle bullets down their own hallway so accurately at a target 10m away that they have qualified for this year’s British Schools Pistol Championships finals.

By Craig Goldthorp
Friday, 14th January 2022, 10:37 am
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 3:45 pm
Isobel and Tom McTaggart will both be in finals action next month
Isobel and Tom McTaggart will both be in finals action next month

Strict safety rules employed during the coronavirus pandemic meant that competitors including Bedrule pair Isobel, 16 and Tom, 13, both Jedburgh Grammar Campus pupils, had to participate in their qualifiers remotely, but that didn’t hold the mini-marksmen, supervised by mum Kate, back.

Isobel has qualified for the Scottish seniors’ section and Tom has sealed an intermediate-class place as first boy, second overall in Scotland and 35th out of 90 in Britain for the finals in Staffordshire on Tuesday, February 8.

“It was really weird shooting remotely,” Isobel told the Southern Reporter.

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“Obviously, while we were shooting, there were signs up outside the hallway so no one walked in!

“People shoot a lot higher scores when they’re at home because they don’t have the pressurised environment of people next to you or an audience.

“It’s easier to do well and shoot a high score at home than it is at an actual competition, so I felt more comfortable.

“To regulate the event, the organisers sent us special targets that had a special stamp on them and then we sent the targets back to them with the signature of who witnessed you shooting it and the date, and you have to do it within a certain time span.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to get a medal in my final now. I have qualified a couple of times before and I won the intermediate final in 2020.

“Tom has done the qualification before but he’s never previously made it to the final.

“Tom does the shooting a bit more for fun than I do, and he’s looking forward to competing in Staffordshire as well.

"You do a qualification again at the final – with 20 to 30 people in each category – and the top seven go into a shoot-off, so I think Tom’s aim will be to reach that.”

Isobel, a member of Scottish Target Shooting, has been shooting for around four years, and she revealed that being trigger-savvy is a bit of a family tradition, dad Jeremy also being a shooting enthusiast, that being how she become interested in the sport in the first place.

“My dad does shotgun stuff but nothing to a high level, just for a bit of fun,” she explained.

“I’ve put a lot of effort into it over the past four years and I’m on a British pathway, so it’s something that I’d quite like to take further and hopefully get to the Olympics one day.

“That is my ultimate ambition. The earliest I could reach would be the 2028 ones.

“There isn’t a massive amount of money in shooting, so when I’m older, I would have to do a job alongside it.

“I think I would want to do something horse-related, down the bloodstock side, breeding and things like that.”

Isobel said she will be practising her shooting a lot at home between now and February 8.

“I practise for between an hour and 40 minutes to a couple of hours in every session,” she said.

“I train four or five times a week. You have to be dedicated.”