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Q&A with Alex McConnell (Form VI)

Alex was one of 18 British cadets in the 'Athelings'

You’ve enjoyed a very action-packed and successful summer; can you describe what you were doing?

This summer I was selected to be a member of the British Cadet Rifle Team, nicknamed the “Athelings” (essentially the GB U18 rifle team). The team comprised of 18 cadets from all over the country—Dollar, in fact, sent two pupils: me and Former Pupil (2017) James Barlow. As a team, we travelled to Connaught Range in Ottawa, Canada, to partake in various team competitions and as individuals in two competitions. One of these was the NCFC, the National Cadet Full-Bore Championships, the Canadian cadet version of the UK Schools’ Week that Dollar cadets compete in every summer at Bisley. And then we also competed in the DCRA (Dominion of Canada Rifle Association Meeting—the main Canadian civilian full-bore meeting, their version of our NRA Imperial Meeting event). We would spend two of the weeks competing, and the other two touring the country.

Describe your achievements there?

As an individual, I achieved the highest aggregate score out of all UK cadets during the NCFC, and won the Clem Trebly 500-yard Competition. As a team, the Athelings won the overall Rex Goddard Competition (first stage being shot in England, the second here). I was also shooting in UK team for the Michel Faraday Competition. In addition, I was a member of the U25 GB team that won the U25 long-range match against the Canadian U25 team.

Alex was the top British cadet in the NCFC

How did you first get started in shooting?

I first started the sport of shooting as a recruit in Form II on the small-bore range. The next year, in Form III, I progressed onto full-bore, and was selected for the Dollar Bisley team. That year would also be my first taste of uncoached shooting, as I was lucky enough to be allowed to shoot the NRA Imperial Meeting that year as well. Over the next year my skills progressed further, and I was selected for various team matches, including, during my second year at Bisley, shooting for the Scotland team for a match. I also competed in Blair Athol in the start of Form V, earning my second Scotland Cap.

Who have been your main influences in the sport of shooting?

My main influences in the sport would have to be the teachers that run the sport here at Dollar; they are some of the very best in the whole shooting community. Without the help and advice of Mrs Barlow, Mrs Adamson and, of course, Mr Stewart, I wouldn’t have progressed nearly as far as I have. Special mention also goes to my brother, Ewan, 2009 Atheling, and FP. He is the main reason I wanted to start the sport in the first place.

The 'Athelings' in Ottawa, Canada

Would you recommend other young shooters to apply for this tour?

This tour was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, and I would recommend it to any Dollar shooter. For anyone thinking about taking up the sport of shooting, especially those in Form II: don’t hesitate; do it. And stick at it. The doors it can open, both in terms of tours and in terms of the friends you will make, offer invaluable opportunities, and it will teach you tremendous life skills along the way.