Acharacle shooter relishes fifth Scottish title

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A clay target shooter from Acharacle has said that his fifth victory at the Scottish Championship is probably his favourite so far.

Despite having not trained for the competition, and suffering from a chronic arthritic condition, John MacDonald took top spot in the Olympic Trap Scottish Championship with a score of 169 after two days of tight competition at the National Shooting Centre in Falkirk.

The former Commonwealth Games competitor has cut back on training and competition in the past three years, although this didn’t stop the 38-year-old from reclaiming the Scottish title.

John said: ‘I had done a lot of shooting and dedicated a lot of time and effort to get to the Commonwealth Games in 2014, so I’ve taken my foot off the gas a bit now. I’m not retired but I’m treating it as just a hobby again. I just turned up to the Scottish Championship with my gun case and won. I think some of the other shooters were a bit miffed.’

He continued: ‘This is probably my favourite win in the Scottish Championships. I was even quite emotional, which isn’t like me.’

Among John’s competitors were professional shooters who receive funding and coaching, training regularly through the week. Having spent nine years working to a similar regime, especially in the run up to the most recent Commonwealth Games, John says he prefers to take a more relaxed approach to his shooting.

John in action in the Olympic Trap competition.

‘I’ve never needed vast amount of training,’ John explained. ‘I’m more of a natural shooter. I prefer just shooting and treating it as a hobby. That’s not to say it was easy, it was very tight. The new National Shooting Centre ground is punishable and the weather conditions were variable, which may have suited me in the end because I work in the hills.’

The victory further cements John’s reputation as one of the best clay target shooters of his generation, especially considering the circumstances of the win. Not only had he come into the competition without training, John suffers from a form of arthritis that makes standing for long periods and shooting over a full day very uncomfortable.

He explained: ‘This year, the circumstances have been that bit tougher as my condition has impeded my shooting. I’ve been struggling a lot with it and, although my performances have improved, I’m shooting with a lot of pain.’

After cutting back on his shooting, John has found a bit more time to help his wife Emma run the family business, Mingarry Park hotel and restaurant near Acharacle, and to prepare for the arrival of his second child, which is due later this year.

Although buoyed by the recent victory, when asked about a return to shooting on a more full-time basis, John said: ‘Professional shooting is alluring because it’s a great lifestyle but things have changed a lot. With another wee one on the way I’ll be taking it easy and just treat it as a hobby. The past nine years I’ve been leaving a lot to my wife Emma in the hotel so I’m looking forward to focusing on that more. Being a professional shooter didn’t really suit me and I don’t want to train every day. If I do anymore shooting, it’ll be on my own terms.’