Scotland’s best chance of winning a shooting gold at the Commonwealth Games came down to the very last shot of the very last event of the tournament at Barry Buddon.
Coming from behind in the most exciting final of the entire six days of shooting, Jen McIntosh needed to score 0.7 points better than her opponent, the favourite, Jasmine Ser of Singapore, to win gold.
As the Scots in the audience at the 50m rifle three positions event willed her to victory, McIntosh “bottled it” – her words – and shot a 7.9, while Ser held her nerve.
“I knew she had a poor shot but I can’t think about it,” Ser revealed. She waited for the wind to die down, and calmly shot a 9.8 for victory.
McIntosh’s silver meant she became the new holder of the Scottish record for most Commonwealth medals, replacing her mother Shirley, also a shooter.
“I didn’t really go in with much in the way of expectations,” said McIntosh, who won bronze on Monday. “It was just a case of going out and performing and I am absolutely delighted.”
Overtaking her mum’s record was “pretty special” said McIntosh. “I’m kind of smug about that one, I’m not going to lie.
“It was 20 years ago that she won her medals, so I think it was time that the record was broken.”
Losing out so narrowly was an agonising way to end the tournament for Team Scotland’s shooting regiment, whose haul of two silvers and two bronzes was well down on Delhi 2010 where they won nine medals, including four golds.
Earlier in the day, Neil Stirton and Jon Hammond came fourth and fifth respectively in the 50m rifle three positions, while Ian Shaw and Angus McLeod came ninth and tenth in the full-bore rifle, and John Reid and John MacDonald also finished down the field in the men’s trap shooting.
The lack of success at Glasgow 2014 was perhaps one of the reasons why Sir Jackie Stewart, on hand to award the medals in the trap, called for the establishment of a national shooting centre, with the temporary nature of the excellent Barry Buddon facilities described by him as “a shame”.
Stewart, who shot for Scotland and Great Britain – he was reserve for the 1960 Olympics in Rome – said: “I am rather disappointed that this was not created as a permanent facility.
“I think it would have been a lot better for Scotland if, for the Commonwealth Games, it had been decided that a facility would be put into place which would have been there for future youth to be developed.
“If we had done that I think we would have seen far more new young shooters coming along, both men and women, boys and girls.
“You have to have something to crack it off with. This would have been a wonderful opportunity and in fact I went to the government about it when it was announced that we were going to have the Games, and I had hoped that it would be retained as a permanent facility. It is a shame that it is not.”
Stewart is worried that there will be no legacy from the shooting event: “It’s a sport that’s been going on a long time, it’s a sport that we have been good at, and it’s a sport that has its roots in Scotland. There will, I hope, be a permanent shooting facility, a national shooting ground, in Scotland. I hear there’s talk of that, and I hope that comes true. Then you will develop many more young shots who could, of course, go on to win gold medals in world championships for their country.
“I believe there are more good shooters from more slightly north than south, but probably a more central site would be good just to service the whole country. But wherever it would be put up, please make a good job of it, and then people will come from all over the world.”
Scotland’s shooters backed his call, with Neil Stirton saying: “It’s a shame that this facility is going to be taken down as it would be fantastic if we could keep it as a training venue.
“We could also bring other competitions here and host world-class events. That’s the only way that you improve.
“I lived in the States for a while at the Olympic training centre in Colorado Springs.
“Out there, everything is under one roof. We don’t have the dedicated facility. I believe there have been talks within sportscotland and the government to get one and I’m very hopeful that will come off.”
Jonathan Hammond, who is a shooting coach at the University of West Virginia, added: “I’ve been based in the US for 12 years but it would be great if they could have a world-class facility here. Scottish shooting needs it. We’ve been waiting for it for a long time and it quite possibly could have influenced my decision to go elsewhere. There wasn’t the resources, or the facilities or the set-up here so I went to the States. I haven’t looked back since.”