SHE has been one of the poster girls of the Army Cadet Force and now she’s helping others to shoot to the top. Downpatrick student Grace Coburn is currently training to be an Officer and Adult Instructor with the ACF … but her ambitions don’t stop there.
Grace has set her sights firmly on sporting success, taking a hobby which she started seven years ago as a junior Cadet to new heights. At 19 Grace is already recognised as one of the country’s top markswomen and she is currently training in a bid to make it to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.
Despite her soft smile and quiet demeanor, Grace has little to prove when it comes to Full Bore Target Rifle and Small Bore Shooting for she can, and does, hold her own with the best of them. She is currently Northern Ireland’s top female shot and has recently returned from major success in the celebrated South African Open Championships, bringing home six medals, including a team first and a second place in the hard-fought ladies’ section of the international contest.
Sergeant Instructor Alan Douglas, Detachment Commander of the Ballykinler Rifles Detachment to which Grace is attached as Adult Instructor, said: “From the first moment Grace lifted a rifle on the training ranges here at Ballykinler, it was clear that she had a prodigious talent. Over the years, she has matched that talent with the sort of hard work and determination that are needed to make it to the top in any sport these days so we have little doubt that we’ll be cheering her on at the Commonwealth Games next year.
“Grace had a glittering Cadet career, taking advantage of every opportunity that the Cadet movement offered to her. She excelled in Cadet shooting competitions here at home, nationally and even internationally and, at 19, is now looking to move from Under 21 categories into mainstream adult competition, a transition she will make seamlessly.
“Grace is a very calm and disciplined person and those qualities are perfect for shooting. It really is a pleasure to watch her shoot, for she remains cool, calm and collected no matter how tough the competition or how grand the occasion. She is able to put her nerves aside which is a great attribute, letting her natural talent and preparation work do the rest.
“We are enormously proud of our ‘amazing Grace’ and not only because she is enjoying such success at her chosen sport. She is also a fantastic role model within the Cadet movement and we’re delighted that, having ‘graduated’ through the ranks she has chosen to return as an Adult Instructor. Her lively sense of fun will be as welcome as her shooting skills and she will certainly inspire local Cadets to see the potential to take shooting to the highest level.”
For the moment Grace is concentrating in the realities of training. Long hours of practice are needed to excel in the sport, but Grace also holds down two part time jobs, cleaning and waitressing to help pay for ammunition, equipment, competition travel and accommodation. Finding potential sponsors to help her prepare to try for Commonwealth glory will be next on her agenda.
For further information on the Army Cadet Force call 02890 815521 or 02890 815223.