Sussex’s 87-year-old sharpshooter shows youngsters the way

HE MIGHT be 87 - but that is not stopping sharp-shooting John Gilberston winning titles with his rifle.

At a point in his life when most of his contemporaries have long since given up sporting activity, he has just won his divisional group lightweight sporting rifle group.

Despite having the odd infirmity, the most debilitating of which for his chosen sport being glaucoma, Gilberstson was able to fend off challenges from shooters less than half his age.

Members of the Mounteney Jephson Memorial Rifle Club, Fittleworth, have sent their congratulations to him on his success - and look forward to him repeating this achievement for many years to come.

Gilberstson’s first chosen sport was pistol shooting, which he undertook for more than 40 years and achieved the status of master in the national rankings.

But in 1997 new legislation which brought in a pistol ban meant he, and many others, had to find a new sport.

After a break he discovered lightweight sporting rifle shooting, and despite never having shot with standing rifle before, he undertook this new challenge at the age of 82.

The sport of LSR is available to almost anyone who has an air rifle or a .22 live round rifle.

Because the rifle, any sights and ammunition are all the equipment required, this particular shooting sport has grown in popularity over the past five years, but at the expense in many clubs of prone rifle shooting.

There is a high degree of skill required - being able to hit a bullseye about the size of a 5p piece from 20 yards (18.3m) awat without any support or other aids takes a great deal of self control.

The shooter’s breathing, heart rate and muscles need to be in unison to create a stable base from which to shoot with accuracy. On this occasion, this was more than many shooters younger than Gilbertson were able to achieve.