The historic home of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich Barracks is being vigorously tested this week as a London 2012 Olympic venue as it hosts the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup.
Test event for Olympics
The controversial temporary pod-like ranges built within the barracks' historic grounds will be the site for the first medals of the Olympics. The world cup competition as part of the official Olympic sports testing programme, London Prepares Series, is therefore a vital recce for the Games, and for the military personnel involved in organising the event.
“There are nearly 850 competitors from 97 countries here at this competition, which is more than double the number who will be taking part in the Olympics. So if we can manage this, we know we can do anything,” said the Shooting Competition Manager for the Olympics, Major Peter Underhill.
“This is an actual World Cup Competition taking place, but it is also a test event for the Olympics in this venue.
"For the Olympians, most of whom are taking part in this competition, it is important that they get used to the field of play here and the dynamics within the venue. While for the organising staff this kind of robust test is vital.”
'Iconic Army venue'
Major Underhill, of The RIFLES, has been involved in organising the shooting ranges and events for the last seven years in the run up to the Games. He is one of just four serving Army personnel involved in the process.
“It is a huge event, and there are a lot of challenges to make sure it meets all the technical specifications and standards,” he explains.
“But as an Army Officer it is an honour to have this event within such an iconic Army venue. When you see the façade of the Royal Artillery Barracks, which dates back to the 18th Century, you can see all this history and tradition alongside a modern Olympic sport. The site combines these two vital elements, and for the Army to be a part of that is vital.”
The Artillery Barracks Woolwich venue will be home to 390 Olympians during the Games, competing in 15 shooting events.