Shooting gold medallist prepared in the Cotswolds
IAN COLEY’s biggest problem when his protégé, the new Double Trap Shooting Olympic champion Peter Wilson comes to stay is finding a bed long enough for the 6ft 5in shotgun ace, writes Danny Hall.
Coley, Team GB’s shooting coach since 2007, ‘discovered’ Wilson six years ago and has nurtured the young man’s career ever since.
After Wilson sank to his knees in celebration at winning the Olympic title at the age of 25, the first person he embraced was Coley.
An international marksman himself since the 1970s, Coley set up his shooting school at Andoversford in 1987 and bought out his business partners three years ago.
Coley is a well known figure in the area as his parents ran the Highwayman Inn on the A419 at Elkstone and an early job was as a gamekeeper at Coombe End Estate opposite the pub.
It is to Andoversford that Wilson came to practise in the build-up to the Games.
“My school is one of only five or six in the country that has Olympic facilities in Double Trap,” said Coley. “Peter has the Southern Counties Shooting Ground six miles away from his Dorset home and I sometimes go down there to coach him, while in the run-up to the Games he would come up here for a couple of days every fortnight.
“Like all top sportsman he has his personal coach – Sheikh Ahmed al Maktoum, a former Olympic champion – as well as myself. We liaise about what Peter is doing. It works very smoothly.
“Sometimes Peter stays with us and finding a bed to fit his 6ft 5in frame can be a problem.”
Wilson got a taste for shooting on his father’s Dorset farm, but when he went to Millfield School – seat of learning for former Olympic champions like Mary Rand and Duncan Goodhew – his key sports were squash and cricket.
That all stopped when he injured a shoulder in a snowboarding accident. He used to shoot every Wednesday at Millfield but his life changed after he met Coley at the National Shooting Centre in Bisley six years ago.
Coley, who had trained Richard Faulds to an Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000, recognised the youngster’s raw talent.
“He was used to shooting sporting clays and I encouraged him to try the Double Trap,” said Coley.
“He was exceedingly quick, which is very important, and I invited him back the following weekend to a selection session.
“He was reluctant because he didn’t think he was good enough but I persuaded him and he finished sixth that day which was astonishing given he was a complete rookie.”
From that point, Wilson came under Coley’s wing and earlier this year he established the world record in Arizona with a score of 198 and then, with ten points less, his Olympic title in Woolwich.
“There were a combination of reasons why 188 was good enough to win in London,” said Coley. “Nerves play a part, of course, and there were varying light conditions which are so important. It was also quite windy, especially in the morning.”
Will his protégé ever score the perfect 200?
“Peter will do it one day because everything he has told me he would do, he has done,” said Coley.
“A shooter’s reactions don’t go until they reach their 40s so, hopefully, he has a long time left at the top of this sport. I am already looking forward to Rio.”