Okay, so we've been rather low-key about this till today, waiting for it all to finalise, but this morning at 1130, Frank Brophy, a target shooter from Wexford, picked up his licence for a Toz-35 olympic target shooting pistol.
This is the first such licence granted in over 30 years in the Republic (though they've always been legal in the North) and it means that for the first time in 32 years we can train a team for the Olympics, hold all-ireland national championships in pistol shooting and so on.
The Toz-35, for those who don't know, is a Russian-made single-shot .22 calibre pistol, specifically designed to compete in the Olympic 50m Free Pistol event. It's about 44cm long, 16cm tall and 12cm wide, and weighs about 1.2 kilos. It's been enormously successful since its release - you walk along the firing line at this year's Olympic Games in Athens and up to half of the firing line will be using Toz-35s of one flavour or another. At the recent Athens World Cup, 26 out of 62 competitors used the Toz for 50m Free Pistol, and the only reason that there wasn't more is that the Toz isn't manufactured any more and they're becoming difficult to get. Here's what they look like:
The licence was initially refused, as per usual, but Frank appealed the decision (which meant going straight to the High Court, as there's no other appeals process for licencing, since your local superintendent is the sole authority for licencing according to the Firearms Acts).
The refusal was quashed, with the consent of both parties, and the Superintendent has now issued Frank his licence.
Hopefully, air pistol can't be far behind, and this will mean a healthy and actively competing olympic pistol community by this time next year, and who knows? Maybe we'll see an Irish target shooter on the firing line for a pistol event in the Olympics in Bejing!
More details are up on www.targetshootingireland.org for those interested...