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Gunner With A Golden Gun: Sergeant Sam Gowin Targets Olympic Glory

The Royal Artillery soldier won a shooting medal at the last Commonwealth Games.

Sergeant Sam Gowin taking aim.

A soldier who won a pistol shooting medal at the last Commonwealth Games is now aiming for the Olympics.

But it could take Royal Artillery Sergeant Sam Gowin several years to reach Olympic standard.

He's been in training at a special indoor facility at Hanover in Germany.

Army Commonwealth Games shooter Sam Gowin
Sgt Gowin takes aim in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Sgt Gowin has been pistol shooting since he joined the Army in 2007.

Just two years ago, he entered a military programme which develops soldiers' competitive shooting skills.

'Troops to Target' aims to put the Army's leading rifle and pistol experts into the Great Britain squad. 

His rapid fire pistol work won him a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“Those were the biggest nerves I have ever felt in my life.

"I was nervous to the point where I was thinking, am I actually going to do this? But at the end of the day you stick to your process, trust it and shoot through the nerves.”

British Army shooter Sam Gowin (right) Commonwealth Games bronze
Sgt Gowin (on right) wins bronze at Commonwealth Games 2018 (Picture: PA).

There's now talk the man from 16 Regiment Royal Artillery - Troops to Target's greatest success story - could go even further.

Team Manager Mick Brown said, “If Sam works really, really hard we could potentially see him a quota place in the Olympics.

"Whether he's selected for the Olympics or not, even just being selected is an achievement.”

Sgt Gowin (right) takes instruction from his coach, Philip Bernhard.

Olympic selection will depend on performances against the world's best.

Sgt Gowin will soon have the chance when he represents Britain at World Cups in Beijing, Munich and Rio. Germany will be one of the countries to beat.

His coaching team includes a man who has trained German Olympic shooters, Philip Bernhard.

He says his British student has come far in a short time but there is much more to do:

“For the rest of the world the Commonwealth Games is a good event but not the high level.

"The World Cup class and the Olympic class are completely different, and there you have to shoot 583 to 585 to reach the final," he explains. 

"The final means only a chance to get a medal and his level at the moment is 570/575 - but I think he has a chance to reach that.”

Army Commonwealth Games shooter Sam Gowin
Sgt Gowin has been pistol shooting since he joined the Army in 2007.

Sgt Gowin told Forces News he's aware he started this journey "very late," as he has only been shooting rapid fire for nearly two years.

“It's going to be a very, very difficult ladder to climb."

"The world's best shooters are really, really top quality shooters, he added.

"You go to an event which is recognised as a quota place event and the top two people at that event will get through to the Olympics. It's very difficult.

"You could be the best shooter in the world but still mess it up on the day and you won't go.”