Inspiring young shooters to succeed

ELEY’s Martyn Buttery has managed the Customer Test Range at our UK factory for over 10 years. He is also a top coach on the GB Talent Squad. We asked Martyn to describe his experiences as a coach and how he helps develop talented young shooters.

“I have found it easy yet challenging at times. It all depends on the individuals that I am working with. It’s easier to build relationships with some athletes than others because of own personal traits. This is nothing to do with favouritism, but how athletes express themselves. For example, by asking questions and having an understanding of what help they need with their shooting. As a coach I provide trust and encourage my students to grow as individuals, giving them the confidence and initiative to take control.

I choose to build plans for athletes to help with progression. This involves fitness as shooting demands stamina, focus, and concentration. Shooting also requires the elimination of nerves using breathing techniques, visualisation and meditation. Lastly, I also prepare individuals in pressure situations to simulate a final. However if the plan has not been followed, consequences in development will show. I encourage my students to work together as a team to try and find solutions, manage expectations and to follow advice. All of this will lead to easier and faster improvement. Younger shooters tend to want to jump into the deep end straight away. However from my experience this can be quite hard for them, as success does not happen overnight.

As a coach, my job is to be positive and encouraging when athletes come from the firing point unhappy with their scores. I go through it with them and investigate to find out why. Bad scores can be a combination of many factors, such as positioning and nerves. My job involves making students recognise that a positive can be identified after every match.

Investment in coaching has already started begun. Many coaches require a level certificate, however there are many shooters out there with a wealth of experience who would be a fantastic coach. I think that a push needs to be focused on getting people through the qualifications needed for the positions, and make available more opportunities for training. Currently GB Talent requires five coaches and a head coach, however you can also make a difference and an impact at your local club.

How to apply for the GB Talent Squad

To apply, a suggestion needs to be put forward by a coach. This will be recommended by England Shooting, Scottish Target Shooting, the Welsh Target Shooting Federation, or the Northern Ireland Target Sports Association, or straight from a regional squad. A shooter will come for a two day trial assessment to gauge their performance, usually in September at the Aldersley National Shooting Centre.

The Talent squad is the first step on the British Shooting pathway, and the coaches on the squad are always looking for new talent. Working with athletes on the squad is such a great pleasure, seeing them develop and improve is enormously satisfying.

I feel target shooting is such a great sport for young people. It gets them out and provides an atmosphere to learn responsibility and safety. Shooting at a club has a great social side, meeting people from different age groups and getting involved in club open days and events. Therefore to keep the sport alive we shooters need to create a modern family friendly environment in clubs to attract new people.”