Blyth's Grant Sparling earns silver at shooting event, berth at world championships
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Blyth native Grant Sparling has earned a silver medal in the Precision Rifle Series Rimfire Match Series Finale, a precision shooting event that served as the North American championship for the season.
The event went ahead in Texas late last month and Sparling came up just short, losing by two shots to the eventual winner. Even that finish, he said in an interview with The Citizen, is an improvement.
After finishing in second place at last year’s event, the winner edged Sparling by six or seven shots. This year, the same shooter beat Sparling by just two shots.
As a result, Sparling finished tops in Canada and second in all of North America.
Sparling entered the finale with a perfect record on the season. He competed in three matches in Ontario, winning them all, before taking part in the North American regional match in Pennsylvania, which he also won, punching his ticket to the Texas match.
As a result of his second-place finish in Texas, Sparling has earned a spot at next year’s world championships, due to be held in Italy in August. Sparling says this is the first time there has been a world-wide competition for this specific shooting discipline.
He hopes to compete as a member of Team Canada. However, if his home country chooses not to send a team to the event, Sparling’s dual citizenship also allows him to be part of Team U.S.A., for which he has also qualified.
Sparling was planning to take the 2023 season off in an effort to focus on his education, but being part of the first-ever world championship is a prospect he says he certainly finds intriguing.
Next year, he will be attending the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario to earn his Master of Business Administration (MBA) and has been offered the entrepreneurship fellowship there.
So, while he will be focusing on his education, he does hope to take part in the world championships. He’s undecided how often he’ll compete in the season, but Sparling says he’ll definitely want to keep sharp through competition and practice over the course of the year.
Sparling first began competing in the Precision Rifle Series last year. He had been shooting casually for a number of years, but during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he further committed himself as a personal challenge. However, that combination proved difficult, as many events weren’t able to go ahead.
While he was pleased with his 2021 performance, Sparling said he approached the 2022 season with a different state of mind, working to be more mentally sound and agile because so much of target shooting is mental.
That approach, he said, helped him to better prepare for events, but to also better bounce back from errors or any competition developments that didn’t go his way.
As a result, he said he felt he has improved not just from 2021 to 2022, but over the course of the 2022 season as well, getting better from the beginning of competition to November’s finale in Texas.
Sparling’s parents Steven and Laurie were able to be in Texas to see their son compete last month and Grant said it was great to have them there. His parents have supported him so thoroughly in a number of sporting endeavours, he said, and this was another example of that support.