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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


Amazing Grace

05 November 2013

2013 has been a fabulous year of achievement for Downpatrick’s favourite female hotshot, Grace Coburn, who has recently crowned her successes by achieving the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Army Cadet Force.

Grace was introduced to the sport of shooting through membership of the Down High School Army Cadet Force Detachment and now, as an Adult Instructor, passes on her skills to Cadets from across the County from her base in Ballykinler. As Second Lieutenant, she is now eligible to command a Cadet Detachment.

Grace says, “Being a Cadet has put so much into my life that I really wanted to make a return and volunteering as an Adult Instructor has given me the opportunity to do that while continuing to work on my shooting.”

Working on her shooting has seen Grace collect a dazzling total of eleven medals in the South African Open Championships (a trip part funded by the Army Cadet Force Association) and was followed by an outstanding performance in the high profile Channel Islands Shooting Tournament when Grace was top shot in competition against the prestigious London and Middlesex Rifle Association team from Bisley – and didn’t drop a single point. Her luck and skill held in the competition in Guernsey where she remained top team scorer, dropping just one point… when she forgot to put on her glasses!

Two days after her trip to Jersey and Guernsey, Grace was on the move again – this time taking part in the Irish Open where she was one of the youngest competitors and one of only three women competing. She managed to finish with a sixth place ranking in the top ten shots. She also won the Abercorn Cup and the Royal Ulster Rifles Cup.

Still on form for the hotly contested British Open Target Rifle Championships in Bisley, Grace shot well enough to move upwards in a class of shooting – but there was still better news ahead for the talented Downpatrick sportswoman. For the first time the Commonwealth Shooting Federation held and under 25 category and Grace was proud to be chosen to represent her country as an individual and alongside Jack Anderson (winner of the Irish Open) in the pairs. She says, “Individuals and Pairs were both very tough but I was so thrilled to be representing my country that I just went for it!”

“In the pairs, Jack and I fought very hard but, with no previous training together, we felt challenged in comparison to other teams, although we tried to maintain a steady hold and kept calm. The approach must have worked because we managed to gain a bronze medal each within the pairs match and, when we compared our final score from the Under 25s section to that of the Seniors we realised we had beaten them by one point.”

“As an individual competing, I was up against the top competitors from England, Scotland, Wales, Canada and Jersey which was as tough as it gets! The first day consisted of six shoots ranging from 300, 500 and 600m and at the end of the day I was ranked second after only dropping one point. The following day consisted of long range shooting from 900 – 1000m where I managed to maintain my position throughout the day to become a silver medallist!”

She says, “I realise I’m still young and learning in my sporting career, but I am gaining in experience and getting better all the time - providing I don’t drop silly point, that is. Although I felt a bit overwhelmed when I found myself competing in the Commonwealth Shooting Federation Under 25s, the experience has built my confidence. A bronze and silver was a fantastic result considering I was the youngest competitor there and also the highest ranked female. In comparison to the adult shooters I don’t seem to doing too badly as David Calvert, the Commonwealth medallist, beat me by just one point overall.”

“If the Cadet Movement has shown me anything, it has taught me that you can get back what you are prepared to put into something.  I’ve had a fantastic summer of competition but am ready to work still harder to get onto the next rung of the ladder, competing at still higher levels. Who knows what I can achieve if I stick with it and keep getting the sort of encouragement which has supported me this far? I’m also hopeful that all my experiences will help me to spot and nurture and shooting talent within the Cadets – so, if any youngster out there, thinks they might have the talent and the discipline, then I hope they will consider joining the cadets. We are always looking for new recruits.” Grace is pictured with trophies earned in competition in the Channel Islands where she competed as part of the National Rifle Association Shooting Team.