A Surrey teen has her sight set on a big marksmanship competition in Bisley, England.
Maya Naidu, 17, travels there this week as the “top shot” in Canada among fellow cadets.
The recent Johnston Heights Secondary grad will spend four weeks in Bisley at the U.K. National Rifle Association’s 148th Imperial Meeting.
“It’s a massive event, one of the biggest in the world,” said Maya’s coach, Randy Bach. “Last year, I think there were close to 2,200 competitors.”
Among them this year is a humble Guildford-area girl who plans to study health sciences at SFU this fall.
“To meet her, you’d never know that she’s an extreme, you know, top-of-the-line shooter in this country,” Bach said.
“She’s one of the top shooters I’ve coached, certainly, and I’ve had other cadets over the years go to Bisley in the same program – several of them as a matter of fact,” he added.
To get to Bisley as part of an 18-cadet national rifle team, Maya out-shot her competition at national events held over the past two summers.
She started shooting rifles not long after she entered the cadet program, as a Grade 9 student in the fall of 2013.
“I started off with air-rifle practicing, but I was never the best or felt like I was really good,” Maya recalled. “I wasn’t a great shot immediately or anything like that.”
She joined cadets because she’d heard about it through friends, and her father, Avanash, was an air cadet.
“And I joined shooting because I just thought it’d be a cool thing to do,” Maya added. “I had to warm up to it a little, because it was pretty frustrating in the beginning. It’s not something you just know naturally. I had to learn a lot.”
Soon enough, she greatly improved her breathing, trigger control, alignment and other aspects of marksmanship.
“The big rifles I’ll be shooting in England, I only get to shoot those rifles in the summer, at a place called Connaught Ranges in Ottawa, Ontario, and this will be my third summer there,” Maya said. “I’m going to be there first and then to England, to practice with the big rifles, the full-bore rifles.… It’s known as full-bore marksmanship.”
The all-expenses-paid trip is Maya’s first to Europe.
“I’m super excited,” she enthused. “I’m in England for, like, four weeks, almost a month. It’s three weeks of shooting and one of touring, and also one day where we go over to France to visit Vimy Ridge.”
In Bisley, Bach says Maya should do well.
“She’s a very confident shooter but a quiet person, too – not flashy at all, and she goes about her business,” Bach said. “She’s extremely mentally tough, and that’s probably what makes her such a great shooter. I mean, this is open to both boys and girls in the cadet movement, and she competes head-to-head with them all, boys and girls. It’s not a physical sport, and really 95 per cent of it is a mental sport.”