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Romford member disappointed to miss final

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James Huckle came within half a dozen points of a shoot-off place at the men’s 50m rifle three position event at the Royal Artillery Barracks today.

And the Romford Rifle & Pistol Club member admitted to some disappointment in not achieving his Olympic goal.

Commonwealth silver medallist Huckle, 21, dropped just eight points in the opening prone element of the competition and recorded a season’s best in the secondary standing element.

But he let further points slip away in the final stages of the kneeling element to finish with an overall total of 1,162, just short of his British record 1,168.

He said: “The 3P is my strongest event, I enjoy it the most, and I was looking to make the final. I think that is most people’s goal.

“So I’m disappointed, but it was a tough field. I had the world record holder to my right and beat him by a point.”

Slovenia’s Rajmond Debevec was the world record holder in question, while Italy’s Niccolo Campriani topped the pile with a new Olympic record of 1,180.

Competitors were given 45 minutes to fire 40 shots from a lying position, but had to contend with a difficult crosswind, which left red, white and blue ribbons fluttering on the range.

After half a dozen sighting shots, Huckle – a black belt in judo – began his campaign with a nine, but then reeled off seven successive 10s to polite ripples of applause.

One of the youngest shooters in the field – which also included the 49-year-old Debevec – Huckle produced a perfect set of ten 10s in the second phase of the prone.

The three-position discipline requires extreme powers of concentration and no shortage of physical strength either in a competition which ran for three and a half hours.

After 1948 Olympian Jim Chandler was introduced to the crowd during the first break, Huckle and his fellow competitors rearranged their apparatus, dispensing with their shooting mats and preparing to stand for 75 minutes.

After more sighting shots – which included a six – Huckle recorded four sets of 96 in a consistent display, taking time to stretch and refocus now and then.

The bullseye measures only 10.4mm in diameter and with only the top eight progressing to the final, there was little room for error.

Huckle had lifted himself into 15th place before scoring only an eight with his penultimate shot.

It took almost four minutes for him to fire his last cartridge, but the wait was worthwhile as he signed off with a maximum.

Despite having an hour to complete the kneeling stage of the competition, the shooters appeared to set off at a faster pace.

Huckle followed an opening round of 96 with an improved 98, but was beginning to feel the strain midway through the third set and had to get to his feet to stretch out once more.

Making sure to use all the time available to him, Huckle could only manage nine 10s from his final 16 shots and had an air of disappointment about him as he turned to face the crowd.

He added: “I tried my best and put my all in. A PB would’ve got me into the final, but it was tricky.

“You couldn’t fire too many without the wind being an issue, but I like a challenge and enjoy that. An aiming match is not as exciting.

“The scores were probably lower because of it and towards the end I tailed off a bit, but you expect that in a long event.

“But I held it together pretty well in the standing and shot a season’s best.”

Having also competed in the 10m air rifle and 50m rifle prone events last week, Huckle declared himself happy overall with his Olympic debut.

But he is now planning on taking a break from shooting – he has helped out at his parents aircraft placard making company, Biggles Labelling Ltd, in the past – before returning to competition in the new year.

He added: “I had high expectations coming into the Olympics and was pushing for high scores and I think I was above average.

“Most people at their first Games shoot average scores, but I was above average.

“I’ve had steady shoots and with the fans watching as well, it has been incredible.

“I’ve got to speak to management first but I’d like to have six months without competition.

“I’ll look to do some light work to keep things ticking over, then hit it hard again.”

James Huckle, 50m rifle three position

Prone (392): 9-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-9-10 (98); 10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10 (100); 10-10-9-10-10-9-9-10-10-10 (97); 10-9-9-9-10-10-10-10-10-10 (97).

Standing (384): 9-10-10-9-10-9-9-10-10-10 (96); 9-9-10-9-10-10-10-10-10-9 (96); 10-10-9-9-10-10-9-10-9-10 (96); 10-10-10-9-10-9-10-10-8-10 (96).

Kneeling (386): 10-10-10-9-10-10-9-10-9-9 (96); 10-9-10-10-10-10-10-9-10-10 (98); 10-10-9-10-9-9-10-10-10-10 (97); 10-10-9-9-9-10-10-9-10-9 (95).

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