Clay shooting world champion’s hot tips

June 16th, 2010

1 Comment

lesley Goddard

By her own admission, the GB shooting team selectors left Lesley Goddard with a ‘broken heart’ when, after winning a quota place in the team for the Beijing Olympics, the selectors surprisingly offered the place to younger rival, Charlotte Kerwood.

Lesley, who’s now in her early 50s, is clearly still emotional when she talks about that decision but, being the belligerent competitor she is, she fought back. In 2009, she won the English, British and World Universal Trench championships in a two-fingered salute to the GB selectors.
Lincolnshire Sports Partnership Awarded Lesley Goddard Lincolnshire Sport’s Personality of the Year in 2009.
It was the consistency of Lesley’s performance that has kept her at the top of her field for the last 16 years, despite once being told she would never make an international shooter. An individual silver and team medallist at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002, and she was the only English woman to qualify for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games four years later. Now retired from international shooting, Lesley works as a sports psychologist helping top athletes aim high. Adrenamag fired the questions at her in an emotional ‘Adrenalin Junkie’ interview.

clay shotters

Lesley Goddard winning an Olympic Trap, silver team medal at the World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, June 2006. Team members Charlotte Kerwood (left) and Shona Marshall (right)

How did you get into shooting? My ex-husband used to shoot game and I come from a sporting family: my dad played cricket for Lincolnshire. But I really got into shooting when a friend, Joe Wheater who’s a bit of legend in the shooting world, decided to sell his gun shop and set up a shooting school. Just months after taking up the sport in 1990, I took part in selection shoots, achieving 2nd in the English open, and shooting in the England Ladies DTL team, in Ashbourne, Ireland.

Who’s your sporting hero? Steve Redgrave – he’s got the guts and the determination that is needed to succeed in international sport.

What’s the biggest thrill you’ve had in sport? Standing on the podium as world champion. (Lesley answers with a quiver of emotion in her voice, which she apologises for. ‘Sorry it means so much to me, but if it doesn’t you won’t succeed at the top level in this sport.’)

And the biggest set back? Not gaining a place on the GB Olympic team for Beijing. It was my lifetime’s ambition and I feel someone else took that opportunity away when I had earned my place on the team. I feel I was psychologically ready to perform in the Olympics and feel sure I would have been in the top six and probably on the podium. I can’t pretend it still doesn’t hurt.

Are there any advantages or disadvantages to being a woman in sport? Men can sometimes be more focused than women when it comes to shooting. But there’s no reason why a woman can’t be as good a shot as a man. The top women prove this all the time.

What are your five tips to people to improve a person’s shooting? Go to a good coach. This can put you onto the right path and make a massive difference. Shoot with the right gun – your coach will help you with this. It’s like choosing a pair of shoes; you’ll struggle to walk if they are too big. I see so many people shooting with guns where they can’t see the down the barrel.

Start with small cartridges. If you begin shooting with cartridges that are too big, your shoulder is likely to hurt and you won’t come back. Learn how to handle a gun, and then increase the size of the cartridges and the gun.

Enjoy yourself. Don’t get obsessed with the score. And if you do have a bad day, remember that doesn’t make you a bad shot. Everyone has bad days. Even the best.

The gun needs to be held gently, not like a like an iron bar. Don’t be frightened of it and be relaxed but firm – again easier if you have the right-sized gun.

How much does it cost to be a top shooter? In the year before the Olympic games in Beijing I spent about £13,000. It’s a big commitment both financially and emotionally. Very different to recreational shooting.

If someone has never shot before, what would you advise to get the most out of a day’s shooting? Just have a go. There’s no more instant thrill than pulling the trigger and seeing the clay break into pieces. The competition is between you and the clay. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. And the great thing about this sport is you can stand next to a world champion like me – and hit the target just the same.

Tell us about your approach to sports psychology? I work with competitors in a range of sports such as sailing, darts, roller-skating, shooting and motor racing. People don’t normally come to a sports psychologist unless the wheels have come off in some way. So my job is to remind them how good they are. I use hypnosis. When I shot competitively, I put myself in a hypnotic state – to be totally focussed on the target. My philosophy in sport – and life – is people don’t really succeed unless they truly believe in themselves. I like to keep quotes in a book, and I remember writing in my book in 2006, ‘now I truly believe in myself’. It was a breakthrough moment for me.

If you want to get your hands on a gun and start putting Lesley’s tips into practice, click here.

And, if you’re interested in sports psychology, you can contact Lesley via email:

One Comment

  1. Alvin Torris says:

    The YOG (Youth Olympic Games) is certainly among the best activities hosted. It’s just like an exchange programme where by youths interact with people coming from diverse countries and being competitive in a friendly fashion.

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