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Date
24 May 2016
Tags
RIO 2016 , IOC News , Shooting , BARTEKOVA, Danka

Danka Barteková gives the lowdown on skeet shooting technique


A bronze medallist at London 2012, an IOC Athletes’ Commission member and the chair of the Lausanne 2020 Winter YOG Coordination Commission, Slovakian skeet shooter Danka Barteková will be gunning for glory again at Rio 2016. Ahead of her return to the Olympic stage, she offers a revealing insight into the technical requirements of her sport. 

Crowned European women’s skeet champion in 2008 and 2010, a year in which she also won world bronze, Slovakia’s Danka Barteková tuned up for London 2012 by winning the ISSF World Cup final in Lonato (ITA) in May that year. 

She carried that form over in the qualifying round of what was her second Olympics after Beijing 2008, placing second with a score of 70 to advance to the final, where she accrued a further 20 points to tie for third with Russia’s Marina Belikova. In the shoot-off for the bronze, Barteková held her nerve to prevail 4-3 and earn a place on the podium. “It was a great experience, and the ceremony, when I got the medal – nothing is like that,” she recalls.

After being elected by her peers to the IOC Athletes’ Commission at London 2012, Barteková then took a seat on the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games Coordination Commission before, in October 2015, IOC President Thomas Bach appointed her the chair of the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games Coordination Commission, the Slovakian becoming the youngest-ever person to hold such a position at the IOC.

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 In the meantime, she continued to excel on the international skeet shooting scene, picking up another world bronze in autumn 2015 in Granada (ESP) and earning a place at Rio 2016 in the process.

Throughout her career, Barteková has worked hard on the skills that have made her the shooter she is today, and she offers a revealing look at the technical skills involved in her sport. “When you shoot you have to stand on your legs and then you have to move a little,” she explains. “It’s very small movements, but you feel the tension. Then you use your back because you are rotating. And of course you use both your hands because you hold the weapon.

It was a great experience, and the ceremony, when I got the medal – nothing is like that. Danka Barteková Slovakia
“The muscle memory technique and reaction are a huge part of our performance because you have to react immediately,” she adds. “You have to have a really good technique, but the muscles remember what you have to do. You have about half a second to hit the target since it appears, so it’s a combination of the three of them. Eyes are quite important for shooters. They must focus on the target and you need to need to have very good peripheral vision because you have to be oriented in the space of the shooting range. 

“The best position for us before shooting is when we make sure the weapon is in a perfect position in relation to your eyes. You have to see the sights and, of course, you cannot see the barrel. So we mount as precisely as possible in a couple of tenths of a second, and you have to make sure before you call for a target that you are actually prepared for the position.” 

“[Breathing] is very important. It’s a vital part of the routine because once you breathe in and breathe out you can feel a little more relaxed, and that’s what you really need before you call for a target. It’s very important that you breathe slowly when you call for a target, and I always call when I breathe out. 

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“Once you call for a target you have up to three seconds before it appears. And once it appears, you shoot it in half a second. You have 500 milliseconds until you hit the target, so you have to move, you have to mount and you have to shoot. It’s really, really quick, when you consider that the target flies at 80km/h.”

“As the competition goes on, the whole body gets tired, but the muscles which get most tense are the back, because we do rotation, and the hands, because they lift the weapon. It doesn’t appear that heavy but it’s four and a half kilos and when you have a competition and you dry fire you actually lift it around 200 times, so it’s really, really tiring for the muscles. 

“I can do 250 shots when I’m training or maybe 300 shot and I still feel fine because of muscle memory and because the hands are used to these movements and this weight.

“Shooting is not a sport where you compete with the others. It’s a sport where you compete with yourself because you want to strive for the best performance. Actually, that’s the result that counts. It’s your result that counts at the end, not the result of your opponents.” 

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