Wingsuit flying

The UK Armed Forces are famed for their sporting achievements.

From international representatives to Olympic challengers, there always seems to be a serving link somewhere.

However, there are a number of sports you might not associate with military life that still take place – including some ancient sports which have all but disappeared.

Here are five sports that might have passed you by:

BMX Racing

Bicycle Motorcross Racing - to give it its full name - can trace its origins back to the sunlit streets of California and the swinging 1960s. However, it was the 1982 film ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ that shot the sport into the public domain.

It would take almost another decade for the activity to be sanctioned by the world governing body for sports cycling (UCI) and another 18 years for BMX racing to debut at the Olympic Games.

Now it is well established on the cycling scene and within the military.

Cornish Pilot Gig Racing

You probably haven’t heard of Cornish Pilot Gig racing but it has been around since the late 17th century.

Originally a workboat, it was used for taking pilots out to incoming vessels off the Atlantic. The first boat to reach its intended target won – and more importantly, the crew received payment.

These days it is a hotly contested sport with its own world championships held each May, just off the Isles of Scilly.

Unsurprisingly, the Royal Navy are keen competitors.

Bouldering

A sub-discipline of sports rock climbing, bouldering consists of unroped climbing above a mat - normally at heights of 4.5m or less.

Rock climbing has been a sport since the late 1800s but bouldering came to prominence in the 1980s thanks to advancements in technology that allowed the creation of indoor climbing walls and, more crucially, protective crash mats.

Wingsuit Flying

If you’ve seen Go-Pro clips online of wingsuit flying, you will be fully aware of just how high octane the sport is when it comes to adrenaline chasing.

Wingsuit flying is one of the fastest growing disciplines within skydiving, and the Army Parachute Association hosted the first World Cup event on British soil back in 2015.

Competitors are tested over different performance parameters, including best lift, least drag and best glide ratio. This is then combined into a single result.


This photo of the Army Parachute Association is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Tentpegging

Tentpegging is the cavalry sport of removing wooden tent pegs from the ground using a sword or lance while galloping on the back of a horse.

With its origins widely believed to be in East Asia, it is said to have moved into military circles when troops were stationed in India during Victorian times.

It became a sport in the Royal Tournament from 1880 until the series demise in 1999.

Modern-day tentpegging is alive and well with the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery at the fore of competition.

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