ELEY inspiration - Jonathan Hammond

With much excitement and anticipation, the NCAA Rifle Championships begin today at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks’ E.F. Horton Rifle Range and Patty Center, in Fairbanks, Alaska. A total of 48 competitors will be competing in the Championships, with 40 competitors coming from the top eight teams selected. This includes the No. 1-ranked team - West Virginia University rifle team. GB shooter Jonathan Hammond is Head Coach for West Virginia rifle team, so we asked him what inspired him to get into shooting in the first place... ELEY shooter Johnathan Hammond I first started in the sport of target shooting at a small school in Crieff, Scotland, called Ardvreck School.  While many sports were offered such as rugby, hockey, cricket etc., rifle shooting had caught the attention of everyone at the school due to the dedication of Tim Verlander.  Mr V., as he was known, had started the shooting program long before I arrived in 1988 and is still involved today!  With around 150 students at the school, everyone wanted to try the activity of target shooting at least once and at any one time there would often be 8 teams of eight fielded for competition.  So this meant more than half of the school participated at any one time.   While I enjoyed all sports especially rugby and then athletics in the summer, I was intrigued by target shooting.  Like most, I wanted to try it as everyone else at the school did!  However, after I started I think I quickly became addicted to the challenge of trying to get better and beat my previous score.  I think it is a sport very well suited for the competitive nature, in the same way golf is, that you always want to go back next time to do better.  Mr V. ran an excellent program in that everything was exceptionally organized and he was a great motivator for young kids.  He knew all the basics, made it fun and exposed us to as much competition as possible even at an early age.  Initially I was not even close to being the best, so I wasn’t a ‘natural’, I was ok but that was it.  However, after a couple years I steadily improved and I think really enjoyed the challenge of trying to get better.   By the time I left Ardvreck aged 13, I had competed for the county junior and senior teams, I had represented Scottish and British schools team in my age group and had won the Scottish Junior (U18) Championship (all in prone!).  This gave me the competition experience, confidence and definitely the motivation and desire to continue this sport through my high school years, college and beyond.  While I have had many coaches over the years, I wouldn’t have got the start and grown to love the sport, without the assistance of Tim Verlander and Ardvreck School.  The sport has taken me to so many amazing countries all over the world, 2 Olympic Games, my job and career in the USA and most importantly to meeting my wife!  Hopefully there are many more wonderful experiences to come through this amazing sport we all love.​   Jonathan has represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the Olympics as well as now leading the West Virginia Rifle Team to success. Many thanks to Jonathan for talking to us on what got him into shooting, and good luck to West Virginia Rifle Team at the NCAA Rifle Championships!