Laser pistols are a sure-fire success

December 21 2016

PUPILS at Winterbourne International Academy have been trying out Olympic laser pistol and fencing classes.

PUPILS at Winterbourne International Academy have been trying out Olympic laser pistol and fencing classes.

The school is one of just three in Bristol to be offering the after-school club, thanks to a new venture by Pentathlon GB and sports charity Wesport.

Together they have funded the £20k project to give youngsters the chance to use Olympic-standard pistols and swords.

Since October, 16 pupils of all ages at Winterbourne have been meeting weekly under the tuition of Olympic modern pentathlon coach Bernie Moss plus other local coaches. The first term focussed on laser pistol, and épée fencing will be covered in the coming term.

Rachel Wreyford from Pentathlon GB said schools traditionally offer clubs for team sports, but not many options for children who prefer individual sports.

She said: “These two disciplines are fantastic for building self-confidence, and this translates into all areas of academic life.

“Students can see themselves improve each week, and learn that if they stick to the process they will be successful. It’s particularly helpful for older children who are going into exams.”

Pentathlon GB, which trains elite athletes from the national training centre in Bath, hopes to offer the club to more schools in the future.

Following a successful interschool battle for the three schools already participating, Rachel plans to arrange more of these in 2017.

She said: “It’s not about becoming an Olympic athlete, although we do run a talent programme and would love it if someone from the club ended up being put forward for that.

“It’s about giving it a go, and keeping trying different things until you find a sport you really enjoy.”

Parent Shaun Murdock, from Downend, said his sons Oliver and Ben had both joined the club.

He said: “I think they were both interested in trying out fencing, but they’ve also enjoyed shooting the modern laser pistols.

“As they get better they increase their distance from the target so they can see how they’re improving each week. They’ve also held a mini competition with another school.

“A lot of kids might think it’s not for them or not know what to expect, but everyone who’s joined seems to be enjoying it.”

Rob Phillips, head of marketing and communications at the school, said: “As an academy we try to offer a range of different extra-curricular events to appeal to the different tastes and skills of our students. We even have water polo and magic clubs.”