‘Target is the size of a full stop’ - Seonaid McIntosh explains rifle shooting at the Olympics

Team GB rifle shooter Seonaid McIntosh has said she is “super excited” to compete in Tokyo this summer, following in the footsteps of her sister who competed in the sport at the previous two Olympics.

Seonaid McIntosh at her shooting range in Alloa. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Seonaid McIntosh at her shooting range in Alloa. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The 25-year-old from Edinburgh is the current 50m prone rifle world champion and will be in the hunt for medals at her first Olympics, competing in the women’s 3×50 rifle and 10m air rifle events at shooting range in Aska.

Seonaid McIntosh is the daughter of former British rifle shooter and head coach Donald McIntosh and the younger sister of Jennifer who won three Commonwealth Games medals at Delhi in 2010 including two golds and competed at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

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It was after London 2012 that Seonaid first developed an interest in rifle shooting, asking her dad – whom she says is her best friend as well as her coach – to teach her.

Tokyo-bound Seonaid McIntosh is following in the footsteps of her sister Jen who competed at the previous two Olympics. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Eight years on, she will be following in her sister’s footsteps and representing Great Britain in Tokyo, one year later than planned due to the pandemic.

“It’s so cool but in some ways it’s really strange because Jen’s already been to two and I’ve grown up with it,” Seonaid said.

“It’s been such a huge part of my life for my entire life and I think it’s really strange now, thinking that this is my first one.

“I kind of feel in some ways I’ve already been to some but I obviously haven’t. It’s just from experiences I’ve heard from my sister.

Seonaid McIntosh alongside her dad and coach, Donald. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

“This being my first one and getting to go – I’m super excited to actually go and experience it for myself.”

Explaining how the rifle shooting at the Olympic works, Seonaid said the 10m event is aiming at the centre of a target “and the thing I’m trying to hit is the size of a full stop”.

Meanwhile, the 3×50 event involves aiming for the centre of a target the size of a five pence piece from 50m away with bigger bullets “that make a bigger bang” while in three different positions: crouched, prone and standing.

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Describing her route into the sport, she said: “It’s a bit of a family business for me, my parents both shot internationally and my big sister’s a double Olympian already, so yeah, a family business.

“I actually really didn’t want to do it when I was little, it was my sister’s thing and I just wasn’t really interested and had other stuff that I was interested in.

“But after she’d been to the Olympics in London, I went down and I was actually really fortunate that was in London so I could go and watch with my mom and getting to see that and see what the international type shooting was like.

“I was then far more interested and so asked dad at that point ‘can I please start?’ and went on from there.”

Just two years after picking up the sport, Seonaid competed at the Commonwealth Games in home country when the event was hosted in Scotland.

Dad Donald revealed Seonaid picked up rifle shooting “remarkably quickly” and said: “Within the first few weeks, what we saw on the range was just incredible.

“I remember showing one of my teammates from my Commonwealth Games days a paper target that had come back and even he was astounded, so yeah, it was really, really quick.”

Asked how he rated her chances of success, Donald added: “They’re as good as anybody’s.

“The thing with shooting, like a lot of the slower-paced sports is that there’s quite a lot of good people and you run the event two days in a row and you’ll get totally different results so it all depends what happens on the day.

“She obviously finished 2019 very very strongly and then didn’t have a competition for 14 or 15 months.

“We’re just back from European Championships and it wasn’t the smoothest but we’ve got a month left to just fine tune things and go out there and see what happens.”

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