Edinburgh University Rifle Club: why we’re the best in the UK

Edinburgh University is home to one of the UK’s most successful target shooting clubs. The club offers a dedicated training programme that takes new members from complete novices to internationally successful athletes. We asked three members about their experiences and the opportunities offered by target shooting at university.

Alexandra Taylor
Edinburgh University Rifle Club (EURC) Secretary, 2018-19

EURC is a fantastic club to be part of. We are smaller than most clubs, and that means members get to know each other well. The club is extremely successful and wins almost all the competitions we enter. Getting involved is very easy, as we run taster sessions throughout the academic year. Students can start the training programme whenever they want and progress at their own speed. EURC members coach each other, with experienced shooters offering more support as necessary. As one of last year’s novices, I am forever grateful to everyone who coached me through the training programme.

Shooting is a sport people can start and enjoy at any age with success. Although, beginning early allows for more ingrained basic technique. It is a very social sport, meaning that you can make good friends as a young person. A particular highlight of the season is the Scottish Student Sport (SSS) GP Series. Five Scottish Universities participate: Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Robert Gordon. This means we meet competing students from other universities and get to see other cities. An absolute highlight is the SSS Outdoor Championship held in Aberdeen in April, followed by the SSS Rifle Ball, which includes a ceilidh, a traditional gathering with dancing, music and great company.

Tom Diggle
BUCS Outdoor Champion 2017

I grew up on a working farm and learnt to shoot for pest control, then began shooting prone competitively at school. At the age of 16 I joined the Scotland under 21 team, and the progressed to the Scottish Academy at the age of 20. After joining EURC, I diversified into 3P shooting, as well as 10m air rifle. This led my first international cap for Scotland in the Commonwealth Shooting Federation (European Division) Championship.

Shooting at the University of Edinburgh has taught me an appreciation of the organisation which happens behind the scenes of any competition, and the amount of time and effort necessary. Time management skills are essential, as I learnt as Captain last year. This year I’m on the committee as Equipment Officer. Shooting with EURC has allowed me to meet a lot of different people through SSS and British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), and I really enjoy being part of the club – not least because of our brilliant achievements. In 2017/2018 we were SSS GP Series Winners, Indoor Champions and Outdoor Champions, and the BUCS Outdoor Champions and Indoors Runners-Up!

Holly Rees-Lay
3 gold and 2 silver medals from BUCS Outdoor 2018

Being the daughter of two rifle shooters, and having spent a substantial amount of the first nine years of my life on various rifle ranges around the UK, it seemed only natural when my mum decided I was old enough to shoot at 9 years old, and set me up on a benchrest at our local club. Spurred on by a desire to one day surpass my parents, I kept training and joined the GB Junior Squad (now Talent Squad) at 13. Since then, I have won medals domestically and internationally, at junior and senior level. I was lucky to compete in several places around the world, with my final international match being the 10m Air Rifle event at the World University Games in South Korea in 2015.

Then I made the move to biathlon and decided to stop target rifle shooting, having decided it wasn’t feasible or affordable to do both. I contacted EURC as I needed somewhere to store my rifle, but was talked into shooting some postal leagues, and then officially joining the team. Travelling around Scotland for SSS and also to England for BUCS is always a fantastic weekend, made even better by meeting people from all over. Being part of a club that competes both for enjoyment and with the goal of winning is a great motivator, lots of fun, and a great way to de-stress from training and competing in biathlon. Additionally, it helps that EURC is the best team in the country!