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Gold award for shooting ace

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: June 27, 2013

GOLD MEDAL: Simon Dafforn.

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SIXTY years of service to shooting have been recognised with a special honour for Simon Dafforn.

For his work on and off the range, the Bideford Target Shooting Club chairman has received a rare award from the sport's governing body.

He is only the 33rd person to be given the gold medal by the National Smallbore Rifle Association.

Since he first fired a rifle as a teenager in London, Simon has served as a competitor, captain, range officer, jury member and international judge.

Last summer his involvement culminated with working behind the scenes at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics as a technical officer.

Simon, a retired funeral director from Torrington, said he was surprised and honoured to be presented with the award at Bideford's annual dinner.

"I am very fortunate," he said. "I just do what I enjoy doing. I enjoy getting involved and it's just I have happened to be in the right place at the right time."

Simon believes shooting stands out because of the spirit and sportsmanship shown by its competitors.

"I think it's the most fantastic sport," he said.

"It teaches people a lot of self discipline and camaraderie. It's clean. It's virtually drug free nowadays. Very rarely do you find somebody who is trying to bend the rules."

Having been introduced to the sport by his father as a teenager living in Wimbledon, he went on to represent England and become a short range champion for the Territorial Army.

He only finished competitive shooting last year.

Simon was the smallbore rifle team manager for the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in 1990 and Manchester in 2002. He served at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada as a judge and his biggest honour came last year at London 2012.

"Can you ask for more?" he said. "We won't get that sort of opportunity again. Not in my lifetime anyway.

"It was the pinnacle and I have to say this medal is the next notch."

The presentation was made by his life-long friend Brian Hall-Tomkin, the Bideford vice-president.

The next challenge for Simon and the rest of the volunteers at Bideford is to press on with plans to build a new range. They are working to ensure the future of the club for younger generations.

"Shooting in general is one of the highest participation sports in Great Britain," said Simon.

"Nationally and internationally, it's well thought of. Locally we are in a very nice situation. We are working at building a completely new shooting centre for Bideford. That's the incentive for every one of us, to get it done. You should never forget your basics and your local loyalties."

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