“There is a younger generation coming up now. We try to use social media to tell people that it’s a good sport, for example on TikTok and Instagram. That’s why we are attracting more young people now’’, says Martin Sørlie-Rogne (19).
Martin is participating in Shooting Para Sport on behalf of Norway. He was born with a hereditary muscle disease. His mother Heidi Sørlie-Rogne (50) is considered Martin’s biggest inspiration. Heidi never held a gun before the age of 40, but now also practices Shooting Para Sport on a professional level. “A lot of people are older when they start because they have had an accident or become disabled later in life”, Martin says.
At the European Para Championships he will be one of the younger players. In Shooting Para Sport, there is no distinction between juniors and seniors. Consequently, most shooters are quite a bit older than Martin. “I started 10 years ago, when I was 9. A few years ago I started at a more professional level. Before that it was just a hobby and for fun. Now it’s more serious and I want to be a good shooter.”
“Going up against older players is a pretty big challenge. They have been shooting for years and are often very good. It’s also fun because you have to get better yourself and put up a good score. Younger people, however, may have more focus and learn faster.”
Between Aug. 17 and 20, multiple divisions and categories will be shooting at 10m distance in the Rotterdam Ahoy. “It is important to be mentally good, stay calm and not stress”, Martin continued. “I try not to think too much about the score or where I am. We all wear caps so the bright light in the hall can’t get into our eyes.”
Often the athletes train outside in Shooting Para Sport, where they also face wind and train at distances of up to 50m. “Outside the rifle is heavier and the bullet is bigger, but inside it is easier because there is no wind and the target is closer.” They also train muscles to stay stable. “I like to train physically in the gym, but besides that I also like to play video games and do a lot with friends”, Martin says.
While shooting, special jackets are worn at Shooting Para Sport. These vary in thickness and material and support athletes while shooting. “A thicker jacket gives the body more support and more stability. My jacket has an average thickness. The material is not very thick, but very hard.” With his jacket, Martin also supports his shoulder so it doesn’t hurt.
When we ask him about his experience on EPC2023 so far, Martin responds enthusiastically. “It’s very cool and very big. There are so many sports I can watch. For example Wheelchair Basketball was very cool to see, I’ve never seen that in Norway. They are so fast and super good!”
If he hadn’t done Shooting Para Sport, he would have loved to get into Wheelchair Basketball. For now, however, his focus is entirely on shooting: “I want to get a good score and for that you have to be technically good. I want to leave here with the feeling that I did well on a technical level”, Martin concludes.