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Shooting’s wasted Olympic funds

I will know precisely who is to blame when £45million is effectively poured into the sand at the feet of our sport and the Olympics deliver nothing for shooting in the UK. It is indescribably painful to watch the sport you love lose out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I will at least know that I did everything I could have done for my sport.

I am in the fortunate position of owning a prime piece of land inside the M25, literally on the south bank of the Thames at Dartford. I run my own clayshooting club on it and from 2005 onwards I have placed it at the disposal of British Shooting as an alternative legacy shooting venue, so that our sport might benefit from the 2012 Olympics.

British Shooting or, more specifically, the National Smallbore Rifle Association (NSRA), has spent the past four years desperately trying to drag the 2012 shooting venue to Bisley, despite repeated and insistent rejections from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) on the grounds of distance, and at the same time rejecting all other possible alternatives. Bisley is much further away from the Olympic Village than LOCOG wants, and while it has a venue at Woolwich, it doesn’t need to compromise. We can only speculate about the reasons for the NSRA’s intransigence.

My land at Dartford offers both British Shooting and LOCOG exactly what they are both searching for. A safe, open space, close to the Olympic Village, highly accessible to thousands of visitors, cost efficient and a permanentlegacy for the sport and the local community. The trouble is that because it is so perfect, Bisley sees it as a threat to the survival of Bisley.

The land is available in a 50-year trust to British Shooting for it to run and manage in the interests of the sport. This is specifically to ensure that noone can accuse me of trying to profit from public funds. If direct reinvestment in Bisley using Olympic money is their goal,and it is unavailable to them, you’d have thought British Shooting would leap at the chance to achieve the legacy at Dartford in the first instance and reinvest money indirectly through increased participation and big European and international competitions.

Sadly, the NSRA is so devoid of both political and business sense that neither will now happen. The Woolwich planning application is in and we are as little as 12 weeks away from the sport of shooting having to watch upwards of £45million, the largest sum ever spent on shooting in the UK in one go, deliver a one-off competition and not one iota of enduring legacy for the thousands of sporting enthusiasts around the country. The sport has been let down.

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