SHOOTING: Alexander’s family affair at Games

Commonwealth Games-bound Jack Alexander, with dad Gary who will be Northern Ireland’s team manager

Commonwealth Games-bound Jack Alexander, with dad Gary who will be Northern Ireland’s team manager

First published in Sport

WHEN Gary Alexander first introduced his son Jack to shooting, with an air rifle and small homemade targets in the back garden of their Broad Hinton home, he couldn’t have known it might one day have cost him a place at the Commonwealth Games, writes Christopher Panks.

Both father and son were in the running for the Northern Irish full bore rifle shooting squad, but the selectors have plumped for youth over experience for July’s Games in Glasgow.

Jack, now 21, is likely to be the youngest competitor in the entire contest and takes one of only two available spaces in the Northern Irish squad.

“I was so chuffed when I found out,” he said, “it’s the biggest competition of my career, by some distance and I’m delighted to be going.

“I think that going and competing in an event as big as the Commonwealth Games is going to be fantastic. I’m looking forward to the whole experience.

“My dad and me have good competition between us, we always have. There were probably six or seven in contention for selection, including me and dad.”

Gary, 53, himself an international class shooter and coach, has come close before: “I still think that I’m the best shooter in the family,” he joked.

“The selectors have made a mistake. I was fourth in the selection for this Games. I was third for the Games in Delhi and fourth again for the Games before that.

“I’ve been trying very hard to get into the top two, but I’ve just missed out.”

Gary won’t miss out completely though, as he has been appointed team manager for the trip north of the border.

“It’ll be great to have that experience around me,” says Jack. “It’s good that Dad’s been appointed team manager. I’ve always had him there as a coach, so this won’t be any different.

The sport involves shooting 7.62mm, around the size of an AA battery, calibre rounds at a static black circle on a white background from distances varying from 300 to 1000 yards.

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