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Jesus “underdogs” shoot to victory

Jesus College hit the bulls eye in Pistol Cup­pers, as two novices scooped a surprise win. Shocking veterans of the Pistol Club, Joshua Berkley and Jon Carter of Jesus came from no­where to take the silverware, battling through multiple knock-out rounds.

The format for the Cuppers was a pairs double-elimination knock-out tournament. In the absence of a group stage, this was all or nothing shooting, one or two stray pulls condemning a pair to crash out of the contest.

The first shots were fired in an initial timed preliminary round on Thursday 14th May. The purpose was to seed the top 16 pairs for the knock-out rounds. After half an hour, the tour­nament progressed to the elimination stages. Here two pairs would compete against each other to shoot ten pentathlon targets first. In the interest of fairness the organisers designed the tournament with a double-elimination format, so every team had to lose twice before exiting the competition.

The teams reassembled on Sunday 17th May for the first knock-out round where 30 pairs from 10 colleges were loading up and shooting for victory. Many missed the mark and the num­bers were soon trimmed. Berkley and Carter put their success down to attendance at a half hour practice session on the previous Tuesday where the Blues at the club ran over the basics of marksmanship.

Berkley told Cherwell, “We discovered that it’s a very easy sport to take up and also is thor­oughly enjoyable from the outset. We were told by the Blues that we were naturally good at the sport and to expect to go far in the tournament.”

With such prospects, the eventual winners comfortably won the seeding round, qualifying with the fastest time. Many of the entrants had shot multiple times before but seemed unable to overturn the Jesus pair, who raced to the semi-final.

Here, they faced some particularly experi­enced opponents who actually defeated them. Placed in the losing bracket, Berkley and Carter then had three extra rounds to claw back vic­tory before facing the same pair in the final. This time they triumphed, emerging victorious as the underdogs.

Berkley suggested he and Carter’s steep im­provement curve was the secret to their success, “With each round we got stronger and as the underdogs in the final, had the psychological advantage, which I’ve decided is crucial in shoot­ing competitions.”

That was not all however, the Jesus duo clev­erly playing mind games with their opponents by choosing their favourite guns and preferred side. Berkley believes in the final, “This threw our opponents off, and they shot a lot slower than the last time we met. With our extra practice, we then beat them twice to seal victory of the whole tournament, which was not at all what we had in mind when we first entered the competition!”

His partner, Jon Carter, added, it was great fun taking part, though it’s very intense when you’re up against another team and its timed.” He argued a “general aptitude for the sport” and the great coaching of Pistol Club captain Priscilla Fung was the foundation of their victory.

But having taken such a surprise win the pair were keen to encourage other novices. “It’s a thoroughly enjoyable sport,” Berkeley told Cher­well, “which anybody can enjoy first time round. I would highly recommend the tournament to others.”

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