The Goal

The Goal

Saturday, 8 August 2015

A Tale of Shooting and Obsession

In his utterly compelling book Feet in the Clouds* the author and fellrunner Richard Askwith puts down in words the love of his sport and obsession with completing the 24 hour Bob Graham Round**. Driven beyond all reason and sane counsel to run approximately 66 miles up and down 42 peaks, with over 8100 metres of ascent and descent in the Lake District over some of the most rugged terrain in the UK, the books relates the utterly ludicrous lengths to which this otherwise unremarkable man went to achieve his goal.

In parallel with his multiple attempts at completing the challenge, the author relates an abridged history of the sport through which it is possible to chart the evolution of modern training techniques. Early exponents of the sport did not train and their knowledge of performance nutrition was somewhat flawed; however more recent athletes, such as the great Kenny Stewart, applied more scientific principles to their efforts.

Much like fellrunning, even as our sport is in decline the sophistication of training techniques has increased. Aside from time spent on the range shooting live rounds, the concept of training for shooting does not seem to have even existed before the 1980s; shooter training systems came on the scene in the early 1990s; similarly, the idea of even the highest level teams training together before competing is a recent concept.

Much like the author, unless you are supremely talented you are going to need to be somewhat obsessed with training to achieve your goals. Just as he "trained like an Olympian for six unbroken months, seven days a week, often twice a day" you're going to need to put some effort into your shooting if you want to achieve an unreasonable goal; and make no mistake here, wanting to win the Grand Aggregate or a Commonwealth Games medal is an unreasonable goal.

Much like some of the fellrunners described in the book, I'm trying to work out how to use the body of research in sports science and other tools to improve my performance in my sport.

* Subtitled A Tale of Fellrunning and Obsession, hence the title of this post. Available at It really is a compelling read, I promise you.

** The Bob Graham Round involves traversing 42 peaks in the Lake District within 24 hours, starting and finishing at Keswick's Moot Hall in the marketplace. Anyone who completes the round within the time limit under supervision is eligible to join the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club. People who have failed to complete the round include the late Olympic athlete Chris Brasher and renowned explorer Ranulph Fiennes Vid.

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